You spent four years in college. Maintained a great GPA. Worked on some interesting projects. Won some awards. Now, its time to get a job. You create a resume. You listen to the resume experts and make a shiny one-page resume. You create multiple versions and cover letters to target different employers. You go out to all those job boards and apply. Dozens of jobs.
And you wait… And nothing happens.
Sound familiar? I bet it does. I know it does.
When a company has an opening, the hiring manager first looks at internal candidates – people he knows within the company that might be a good fit. Then, he looks at referrals from his team/organization. Then, referrals from his own professional and alumni network. If he still can’t find any candidate, then he’ll open it up to the job boards. So really, most of the good jobs never even make it to a job board.
But say you do find a “needle in a haystack” post that you actually want to apply for. On most job boards, your application is automatically added to an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). The ATS extracts data from your resume and adds you to a database that employers can then search. As a result, you never wind up in front of the right people – you wind up in a resume black hole.
Recruiters search the ATS for good candidates all day, but in most cases, they don’t have the time or patience to look beyond 1-2 pages of results (essentially, the first 20 applicants). Getting noticed then becomes a matter of luck.
If you do get noticed and make it to an interview, you’ll find yourself facing a tough battle against the interviewers. Why? Because for them, you’re just a “bunch of skills and relevant experience”. You know you’re much more than that – but they don’t.
Even if you do manage to get through the interview, you’re up against other candidates who did just as well as you did at standing out within the ATS. So after all of your hard work, your chances? They’re still just a matter of luck.
There has to be a better way – and there is. Here are five things that you can do differently in order to significantly improve your chances of getting hired:
Paper is out, and digital media is in. Don’t just write a resume – create a brand page that reflects who you are and what you love to do. Show, don’t tell – add photos of your accomplishments, certificates and awards. Create a personal statement that gets down to what’s in your DNA. collegefeed’s “Personal Career Assistant” can help.
Get Your Networking On
Prepare a list of email addresses of everyone that knows you and that can help you – your professors, your friends, your alumni network, the people you’ve worked with or have had good interactions with and even the people you’ve met at career fairs. Now isn’t the time to be shy.
Leverage Your Connections
Do some research on how each of the individuals you’ve identified can help. Go back to the job postings you were originally interested in and get the names of the companies that posted the listings. Now, look your email list and see if there’s anybody who can connect you to those companies. A personal recommendation is always going to trump an electronic application, so make a strategy: To reach this company, I could try going through these three individuals…
Get in Touch
Send simple, concise emails to each individual you’ve identified that includes how they know you, what you’re up to, and what you’re asking of them (typically, a referral or a forward to someone that could help). People don’t have time to read large cover letters – keep it short and simple.
Don’t Be a Stranger
If you don’t hear back, follow up. Persist, but don’t irritate. People are busy and they want to help – but even the most generous of souls are going to be irritated by daily emails and demands for assistance.
At the end of the day, remember that companies don’t hire people – people do. If you’re using “old school” tactics to get your resume noticed, you’re bound to be disappointed. Leverage both modern technology and your personal network to claim the job of your dreams – even in this tough employment market.