It’s a fact: the best jobs attract loads of competition. So it pays to do whatever you can to stand out as a persistent, creative candidate, one that any sane employer would love to hire.
But how can you do that, in this impersonal age of email, chat rooms and mega job sites?
Easy. Just do what has worked for others.
Here are 3 mini case studies from job hunters who got hired by creatively persisting and going after the positions they really wanted.
How can you emulate them?
1) Follow up creatively and get them talking
“I remember one job seeker trying to transition from geologist into a position as a copywriter in an advertising agency,” recalls Elizabeth Laukka, National Recruiter for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage in Minneapolis.
“He sent me a resume and work portfolio, then a few days later sent a follow-up note with a stone attached, that read: ‘I am tired of being taken for granite in my current industry,’” says Laukka.
Now, you may or may not love puns, but you have to love what happened next …
“His persistence stood out from a creativity standpoint. But more than that, he took the trouble to find out the name of the hiring manager and sent him the same excellent resume, portfolio and follow-up rock,” says Laukka.
So, not only did this candidate show creativity by sending stones in the mail, he started a conversation at the agency by mailing his materials to two people: the HR person and the hiring manager. This got them both talking to each other.
Did it work?
“We offered him the job,” says Laukka.
2) Prove your enthusiasm by showing up, and showing up, and …
Enthusiasm is a wonderful kind of wild card that can trump potential negatives in the minds of employers. And it can get you hired.
Here’s proof …
“I was hiring manager at a retail business, looking for a ‘mature’ individual for a customer service position,” says Los Angeles-based job search expert David Portney (http://www.confidencenow.com/secret.htm).
“A lot of applicants came in, but none really fit. Among them was a young man named Michael. He was dressed to impress, had a charming and polite demeanor, but he didn’t match my ‘mature’ requirement, so I turned him away,” says Portney.
But Michael didn’t take “No” for an answer.
“A couple of days later, Michael came back, and politely asked: ‘Have you filled the position yet?’ I told him that I appreciated his follow-up, but that he did not fit the position. He thanked me for my time and left,” says Portney.
This didn’t stop Michael.
He came back a few days later … and was again turned away. So Michael came back a third time. Mildly exasperated, Portney started to show him the door, but Michael dropped a bomb.
“He looked me in the eye and said, ‘I realize I’m not the ideal candidate. But I want to tell you this — I think this store is fantastic and I’d be very proud to work here. If you give me the opportunity to prove myself, I’ll be one of the best, most reliable employees you’ve ever had,” says Portney.
”I was so impressed that I hired him on the spot. And he proved to be a hard-working employee who delivered stellar customer service that was great for business! He even worked his way into a managerial position,” says Portney
(How many times have YOU stopped at the first “No”? Michael didn’t. And he got hired. Food for thought.)
3) Prove your skills by following up
If you’re applying for a job in which follow-up is important, such as sales, your persistence after submitting your resume can lead to more interviews.
So says Dale Gustafson, Manager for Bloomington, Minn.-based Management Recruiters International.
“For individuals applying for a sales job, tracking down the hiring authority and calling them can be effective. Because any good sales person should excel at finding and cold calling decision makers. So if I am recruiting on a sales position and I get a call from someone who has submitted a resume, I will take the call,” says Gustafson.
Does it work?
“I have submitted sales candidates to clients that I otherwise would not have, because they called me following up on their resume. Of course, the candidate must say more than, ‘What’s happening with my resume?’ I expect a polished sales presentation about why they feel this may be the right position for them,” says Gustafson.
So there you have it. Three success stories you can learn from to find your next job faster.
Now, go out and make your own luck!
Three weeks ago I surveyed 159 job seekers by email to get their answers to this question: “What one thing could I do to make your job search easier?”
I received a ton of responses, with so many questions and problems that it would take 10 or 20 articles to answer them all.
But time is short and attention spans are shorter.
So, I picked two common job search problems to answer here. Ready?
Problem #1. “How can I find a job when I don’t have any experience in my field? I have an associate’s degree in business administration.”
Solution: This is the classic Catch-22 — the Excedrin Headache #1 of employment problems. You need experience to prove to employers that you can do the job. But how can you get experience if nobody will hire you?
One way to cut through this knotty problem is to stop waiting for somebody to give you experience and, instead, go get it on your own. You will then be more attractive to employers.
How do you go about getting experience in your field?
Here are two ways:
1) Broaden your definition of “experience.”
If you have used your relevant skills and education in any capacity at all, consider including that under the rubric of experience. After all, paid work, part-time work and volunteer work are all work.
If you seek an entry-level job as a project manager, for example, and you have managed projects at a local charity or school, consider counting that as experience on your resume. Just be sure to “do the thinking for the reader” and include on your resume the specific results of what happened when you led those projects to successful completion. How much time or money did you save or earn as a result? Specifically?!?
2) Get part-time experience doing what you want to do full time.
Lots of temporary employment agencies and Web sites offer contract positions you can do to polish your skills for employers. Check the Yellow Pages or post your resume on sites like NetTemps.com, Guru.com, Elance.com, or RentACoder.com. Who knows? If you sparkle in a temporary assignment, it could turn into a full-time position — it happens all the time.
Final tip: When it comes to “giving yourself experience,” consider the Wright Brothers. Orville and Wilbur did their first work as a hobby, without pay. And we all know how that turned out …
Problem #2: “Can you describe a sure-fire way to get past gatekeepers and right to hiring managers?”
Solution: While there’s no foolproof way to do this short of knocking on doors and asking for interviews, email can help you get past gatekeepers — if you use it creatively.
Here’s a way to connect with a hiring authority directly by email — even if you don’t know their email address — courtesy of executive recruiter Harry Joiner (www.marketingheadhunter.com).
Visit the Whois Search web site (www.networksolutions.com/en_US/whois) and type in the URL of the company you want to work for. When looking at the results, note the format of the email address of the firm’s Administrative Contact. Then, send an email to your contact using that format.
Example: If the Webmaster’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org and the hiring manager’s name is Steve Johnson, send an email to email@example.com.
If you need help finding the names of company officers, scour their Web site first, looking for a site map or other listing of managers’ names. Next, try searching Hoovers.com or Jigsaw.com (if you can’t afford a subscription to these two sites, call your local library and ask if you can gain access via their computers).
Advanced tip: Joiner suggests that, if you really want to increase your response rate, call your recipient and say, “Hi, ____. This is Joe Brown and I wanted to make sure you got an email that I sent you this morning. Do you have a minute to talk? Etc.”
Studies have shown that a followup call after sending a direct mail or email piece can double or triple your response rate. Try it and see.
Now, go out and make your own luck!
8 Rules for an Extraordinary LinkedIn Profile
There are certain unwritten rules that if you adhere to will increase your chance of getting the attention you deserve.
Presumably the reader has a job you’re interested in, because the word or series of words they used in their Key Word Search found your resume. So Search Engine Optimization (SEO) worked – now show how your experience fits their requirements. Don’t assume people can or will “read between the lines” – they don’t have time. It’s not their job and they don’t care about you – yet. You have 6-30 seconds to convince a reader that your resume warrants a complete read, an investment on their end of 5-6 minutes. A recent poll I conducted among fellow recruiters revealed most spend less than 2 seconds on a LinkedIn Profile before moving on the next. Most, in fact, never get past the Tag Line let alone your carefully worded “Summary” and, frankly, human resource managers are no better. No one has time to waste waiting for a Job Seeker to get to the point… so the first rule of writing a LinkedIn Profile Summary is to construct it with the reader’s needs in mind so they can get the information they need fast. A little advance planning is called for.
Target your Reader
You need to understand who your “reader” is because – different people read LinkedIn Profiles looking for different things.
- Recruiters look for “hot” marketable skills because they want to make money marketing you. If your skill set is not in high demand, they won’t call unless you are an exact fit for a job order they have.
- Human Resource manages look for an exact skill fit with a job first, then your stability, then your personality type. So If you’ve rocketed through the ranks of your current firm I suggest you bundle ALL your job titles under one post. Multiple posts in the same firm often make you look like a job hopper when people re skimming your profile.
- Hiring managers look for skill sets first, then how flexible you are and finally your ability to learn on the job.
Your resume should not contain one more word than it needs – to make your point. Ok? It’s supposed to create interest not bore them to death. Be a tease! Use Box.Net and Slide Share to attach your guerrilla resume and any Power Points you think may add “Value” to your candidacy. Look at the way Wayne Eells summarizes his experience and philosophy below.
Highlight your Strengths
The reader can get the gist of your experience quickly. You can elaborate at the interview. Whichever strengths (accomplishments) are the most relevant to your reader – they go first. Always lead with your best foot forward.
Highlight your contact details. Make it easy for people to get in touch with you.
Try writing Feature/Benefit style. Use ###, %%%, and $$$ to emphasize your accomplishments. One million dollars is less likely to be noticed than $1,000,000. Numbers and symbols jump off the page. Make sure your endorsements are relevant to the accomplishments/skills/experience you want to be found for. Or do what Wayne did and tell people how they can benefit from contacting you.
Sentences, that is. Short sentences are less effort to write and easier to read. We live in a PowerPoint world. They also give the reader a sense of action and energy.
Give it POP!!!
Power verbs like those below give your resume “pop” that crisp Joe Friday delivery of “just the facts ma’a’m – just the facts”. They’re high energy and factual, making you appear to be a “driver”! Just rewriting your LinkedIn Profile alone with these words will increase your chances of being interviewed by 50%. Here are 35 of the hundreds of possibilities:
Accelerated Accomplished Achieved Activated Addressed Admitted Aided Allowed Amended Analyzed Apportioned Approved Arranged Assessed Attained Augmented Balanced Brainstormed Calculated Certified Collaborated Committed Compiled Conceptualized Consented Contracted Convinced Coordinated Correlated Created Increased Initiated Invented Led Negotiated Started…. I’m’ sure you get the idea.
Connect the DOTS for them
Make it easy for the reader to see your fit – to their job.
Before you write your LinkedIn Profile, research newspapers, job boards and internet ads for positions that are similar to the ones you’ll be seeking and want to be FOUND for. Ensure that the latest “buzzwords” are prevalent. Common key words and phrases like “JAVA” or “Audit Trail” or “channel management” or “DWDM” should map to the bullets in your resume. Scientists and senior executives should prepare an appendix of publications and papers as well. Technical people need a separate Technical Summary page for easy identification of your skills – these go in your Box.net or Slide Share presentation modules.
On one of the on-line forums I frequent, a candidate asked the question “when is enough enough?
He had been through a protracted interview process with one company for months and couldn’t find out if they where going to make an offer or not and was asking the group when to call it quits. My response is below.
So when is enough enough? 96 hours. If you haven’t heard back from them within 96 hours with a complete description of the next steps… sorry to say, you’re not the star candidate.
One phone call is all it takes to a recruiter asking where you stand.
If they don’t call back assume they’re tied up in a deal or dead because all recruiters live and die on a daily basis by their production. You’re the product they have to move. No movement = no money = no job.
If a recruiter is dancing with you then you can assume you’re the “B” candidate which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Technical skills count for a lot but no where near as much as chemistry does. And as the world continues to shrink and companies become more competitive expect every hire to become critical. As that happens the chemistry piece outweighs skills. Some recruiters know this – most do not.
How do you win?
Make it clear in the interview process that you have your own agenda and schedule to meet. In an unspoken way you need to telegraph the fact that you’re in demand. The easiest way of doing that is ask deep penetrating questions that get at the business issues of the company. And don’t wait until the end of the interview for your chance to do so. Ask them up front and then make a decision to stay and finish the interview or go.
When you take control of your life and your career and you’ll get the respect you want.