It’s no secret that half of the available job openings are never advertised. In addition to promoting internal staff, companies often create new vacancies or fill existing ones when and if they know their target candidate is on the market. The harsh truth is – the HRs will probably skip going through hundreds or thousands of resumes submitted by total strangers if they already know someone who fits the bill.
So it’s no wonder that even qualified professionals struggle with getting hired. That is, unless they invest some time and effort into developing their network. With 225+ million of professionals registered on LinkedIn, you’d be a fool not to tap into that gold mine to identify and link up with some connections that might prove to be useful for advancing your career. And while the tactics for catching up with old colleagues and business associates seem quite straightforward, the art of reaching out to strangers is complicated for many. So what are the secrets to becoming a LinkedIn networking expert?
Today’s advice will be geared first and foremost towards new graduates and those working hard to obtain that status. Armed with college degrees, they often find themselves frustrated as to which career path to pursue, despite being full of enthusiasm and passion to join the workforce. (We know what we’re talking about as we’ve seen our fair share of Business Administration grads struggling with making a choice between manufacturing, sales, marketing, IT, e-commerce and whatnot.)
Now, wouldn’t you agree that expecting to hit the bull’s eye if you don’t even have a target is just plain silly. That same is true when it comes to job search – if you don’t know what you want to do and what you’re great at doing, you’ll be doomed to working in unfulfilling positions all your life. So take a minute to identify your preferred niche before you begin writing your resume. Here are a few tips:
- Make a list of all industries that seem appealing to you. Then inventory your personal strengths. (Are you a great communicator? Can you strike a deal? Excellent at planning and organizing? Expert in microbiology?) After that search job boards for positions that
a) are in your desired sector,
b) require your level of education/knowledge, and
c) make use of your special skills.
Tailor your resume and cover letter accordingly.
- If you’re choosing between several different career paths, try interning or job shadowing professionals that have already achieved something in each of your target positions to get a better understanding of whether or not you are a good fit for the desired role.
- Have you been dreaming about working at a certain company? Then do some research to know more about their culture, hiring process, network with their employees, etc. If the new information does not change your initial intent, and there are no suitable roles for you at the moment, it might be a good idea to take a job you’re overqualified for/not that interested in, but only if it offers potential growth. That way you’ll get your foot in the door, learn about the company from the inside, set or adjust your career goals, and map out the next steps for moving towards them.
The Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a piece of sophisticated software used by many large companies to collect, sort, screen, rank and track candidates that respond to their vacancies. If you’re shooting for a role in an organization with a couple hundred employees, chances are, they are using some sort of an ATS to sift through the resumes and cherry pick the best matches. Only these select few are then assessed by a Hiring Manager. So if you’ve spent days, weeks, or months sending out resumes to no avail, here is the harsh truth: no matter how well-qualified you are for the position in question, your application might have been cut by the ATS.
That, however, is no reason to get discouraged. Though all recruiting systems are different, there are ways to make your resume more ATS-friendly, thus, dramatically increasing your chances of getting invited to the interview. Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind!
Getting noticed by a potential employer is very similar to getting your website to show up on the first pages of Google search results. Your key to success lies in making your application documents relevant and easy to find. That way, when an HR looks for a professional in your field by browsing LinkedIn, employment websites, or even their company’s internal applicant database, your name shows up on top of the list. How do you accomplish that?
First and foremost, pack your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile with buzzwords. Read your target job description carefully and incorporate the main concepts and phrases into your application documents. This strategy also applies to situations where you respond to job ads via any kind of automated system on the potential employer’s or recruiter’s website rather than by sending a good old email. And do try to include both abbreviations and full versions of key concepts, as you never know whether an HR will be typing in “SMM” or “Social Media Manager” in the search field.
If you are posting your resume on an employment website, such as Monster.com, and are targeting several job titles, create a customized version of your profile to match each alternative. That will dramatically improve your chances of being noticed amidst hundreds of your competitors.
And finally, take care not to go overboard with optimization and make sure you can back up each and every one of the claims you make on your resume.
Not so long ago I’ve shared with you a list of phrases that have the power to seriously sabotage your job hunt if used in a resume or cover letter. If you’ve already weeded these out of your employment documents, it’s time to move to the next level and add some meat to your job application. It’s no secret that a great writer creates compelling stories, carefully choosing each word so that their piece conveys information in a way that would evoke a certain response in a reader. Thus, an effective resume prompts the Hiring Manager to call the applicant for an interview.
Sadly, more often than not, HR’s end up going through piles of resumes crowded with unimaginative phrases that have been repeated so often that they have started to lose their meaning. Yes, I’m talking about endless lists of duties all starting with “managed” and “communicated”. The best way to turn your application into a piece of engaging writing that the recruiter will actually read is by adding some variety to your vocabulary. So here are some of the most overused verbs along with great alternatives that you should take advantage of:
– coordinated — gives an impression that you’ve successfully juggled a number of tasks
– oversaw/supervised — both imply that you have been directing both processes and people
Check out more helpful alternatives to overused verbs!
While it is important not to undersell yourself on your resume, going overboard and mentioning every single thing you’ve accomplished since high school is also not a good idea. The truth is, saying you’re a genius (or implying it) is not the same as demonstrating your confidence and competence. Such tactics won’t help you get hired – they’ll just give the recruiter an impression that you are a pretentious individual who won’t be a good fit for their corporate culture.
Lying is also a no-no. And yes, exaggerating does equal not telling the truth, so it’s another pitfall to avoid. If you’re tempted to make things look better than they actually are, remember: even if you do land the job you so desperately want, it will soon become clear what you can and what you cannot do.
Stick to the tried and true “Honesty is the best policy”. Combined with a healthy amount of confidence, this approach will make your resume, cover letter or LinkedIn profile extremely compelling.