Applying online is easy. Just upload your resume, push a few buttons and wait for the calls to come in right? Wrong. Here are three things to think about while you are searching:
1. Every job board will ask you to upload your resume generally for anyone to see. Don’t do it - it is bound to attract the wrong kind of attention.
- The companies who are looking in those resume pools are likely going to offer you the kind of job you don’t want: making cold calls, handing out surveys in malls on the weekend or performing “disruption marketing” by passing out free samples on the street. (Although starting your career that way will likely impress future employers because it is hard and honest work. It is just not a lot of fun.)
- The recruiters who are looking in those resume pools are not the kind of recruiters you want to attract. There are two business models for recruiters:
(1) retained search consultants who are given a retainer upfront to work with a company to fill a specific role, and
(2) contingency search consultants who search the same job boards you do and serve up as many candidates as possible in the hopes of getting a fee if one of them actually gets the job.
Retained search consultants work with the companies directly to identify the backgrounds and personalities will make someone a good candidate for a specific role. Contingency search consultants are playing a numbers game where the more candidates they can send on an interview the higher chance they have of getting a fee, and are generally not as well informed about the job or the characteristics the hiring manager is seeking in an applicant. It is generally contingency recruiters who troll the resume pools (if they call, you should always ask if they are working on retainer or contingency).
Contingency search consultants have been known to take resumes out of these pools and forward to a company pretending to represent you. If this is the case, you immediately become a more expensive (and less desirable) candidate because you come with an associated fee. It is possible one of these recruiters could land you something, but it’s a long shot.
2. Many company websites will encourage you to send in your resume so they can keep you in mind until something becomes available. Expect to get out of it what you put into it.
Generally, this doesn’t work. The kind of job you want has dozens of candidates applying proactively and specifically, and no one will have time to search through a general pool of people who might or might not have a job yet. However, it is an opportunity to make a positive impression on a company that may get remembered.
Make sure you submit your resume with a thoughtful cover letter. This letter should include:
(1) a date;
(2) a specific reason as to why you are interested in the organization. Cite work they have done that you admire, clients you would love to get to know or products that you adore;
(3) how you can add value based on the skills you already have;
(4) why you are very enthusiastic about their industry, possibly citing an experience in school or an internship. Again, be as specific as possible.
This will take a lot longer to do, but it will substantially increase your chances of getting a call. For every company where you do this, be sure to follow them on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. If your resume and cover letter get noticed, they may check to see if you are sincere.
3. Do everything you can to get your resume forwarded to the hiring manager or the HR department from inside the company.
- Hit up your parents, your friends, your friends parents, your siblings, your siblings friends, etc. to see if any of them know someone at the organization.
- Troll LinkedIn to see if you might be networked to someone who is networked to the organization.
- Scour your alumni database to see if there are any grads at your alma mater that work for or are otherwise affiliated with the company.
- In short, be shameless.
Here’s what to do if you are lucky enough to hit pay dirt with any of these options:
- Get the relevant contact’s email address. If you can only get a name, you can usually figure out the organization’s email convention by perusing the “contact us” section of their site.
- Put the name of your contact or school in the header so it doesn’t go to a spam file (you’ll need to ask permission from the person who gave you the contact to use their name)
- Attach the file that you submitted generally (resume and cover letter) and name the file YourName_PositionTitle (if there is one) or YourName_Date
- Write an email that leads with how you know the contact (or mentions your shared love of your alma mater)
- State that you’ve applied and have attached your application
- Ask the contact to forward internally to the appropriate person
- Ask if you may follow up with them for a potential informational interview.
In short, make it as easy as possible for them to help you by making the email one that they can forward exactly as it is. Again, this doesn’t always work and you won’t always get a response, but it will increase your chances.
Lastly, be sure to keep a record of everywhere you have applied, the date, a file of the documents you sent in and, if applicable, the contact you found there. I guarantee you’ll want to reference it at some point.