8 Ways to Get Noticed During a Job Search
Let's assume you are perfectly qualified for a job you find on Craigslist or LinkedIn, saw in the classifieds (really?), or learned about from a friend. You have the skills. You have the experience. Great. Unfortunately, unless it's a very specialized job, many, many other candidates will be perfectly qualified, too. Or maybe just a bit more qualified.
So how do you get the job?
You have to separate yourself from the pack. These eight tips might help.
1. Don't Mention You're Responding to an Ad or Listing
If you respond to an ad for a job opening, don't mention that. It's like saying, "I'm interested in your company because I need a job." Instead, try "I am introducing myself to your human resources department because I am skilled in X,Y or Z and believe I can contribute to your company." It's not the most scintillating sentence ever written, but it turns the situation around. You are not seeking them. They are seeking you.
2. Introduce Yourself When They Aren't Looking
What if you saw an ad for a job where you knew there was a fair amount of turnover. To add to this, let's assume you are not desperate and unemployed. Wouldn't it make sense, then, to allow the ad to run its course and send a letter a few weeks later to make it appear your interest in the company was genuine and not an opportunistic spur of the moment decision made because there was an enticing ad that sparked your interest? The point here is to get yourself noticed when they aren't looking — and when there aren't a hundred other candidates seeking their attention all at once.
3. Get Right to the Point
"I have five years experience doing X,Y, and Z and believe I am a very strong candidate for the job of …." Put your best foot forward immediately. With emails, skip the formalities of a business letter that put what is now redundant information at the top such as the company's address and the date. The email already registers the date. Think of scrolling as your enemy. Emails come pouring in like a swarm of cicadas and human resources staff open their 120th letter of the day and it begins, "I saw your ad in the ..." Who wants to read that? Of course you saw the ad. Get to the point.
4. Make a Personal Connection
"A former employee at your company, Bob Usta-Work-For-You, suggested I write." This is not always possible, but when you can manage it, this is powerful. Companies trust employees and former employees more than they do perfect strangers, such as yourself. In two recent inquiries for myself, to make the point further, I said, "So-and-So, suggested I call you," when So-and-So was someone they didn't even know. And it worked! In each case they said, "Who was that you said suggested you call?" And I reeled off the name and credentials of the person — and suddenly I had an impressive sounding person suggesting I call. They could have said, "Well I don't know them, and I'm not impressed," but they didn't.
5. Ask for Advice Before the Interview
If they say yes and you get that preliminary interview, then you should always ask for help preparing for the job. This does three things. It helps you prepare for the job. It displays initiative. And it gives you an excuse to call (or write) and say thanks once you've completed the suggested tips. What you want is to keep reminding the hiring supervisor that you exist. "Thanks for the suggested reading material (or whatever it was). I found the book/website/whatever and read the chapters you suggested. It was helpful." Now, suddenly, you've gone from being a genuinely interested candidate to someone who takes suggestions well and gets things done.
6. Find Out How You Can Help
Similarly, you should listen for hints that the person doing the preliminary interview is having trouble with something. It could be something incidental, not even connected to work. A week later, you might read an article about that concern. Shoot that interviewer a quick email with a link. Now you've promoted yourself to someone who listens well and is helpful, traits that employers are certainly seeking.
7. Hand Deliver Your Resume
Sometimes you have to manufacture reasons to be noticed. One trick I used to use is to not mail in a resume (or whatever it might be), but deliver it by hand. This is obviously not possible when the company is far away, but if it is close, stopping by to drop off something gives you one more chance to display your professional persona. To make the point, don't drop off a resume in cut-off shorts unless you have a particular reason to show off that side of your personality.
8. Find Out Who the Hiring Manager Is
Avoid the human resources department unless it is spelled out that there is no other choice. The reason is obvious: Human resources departments don't hire, they screen out unqualified applicants. They then send resumes and cover letters of qualified applicants to department supervisors, who pick the people to hire. Those supervisors then call the human resources department and say, "Call up So and So. That's who I want you to hire." It follows then, that when you call for a preliminary interview, ask for "Someone in the department who can really give me the lowdown on the work the company does."
What's gotten you noticed for the job? Let us know in comments!