I had the good fortune to sit down with a friend of mine recently, and he was not feeling so well in his job search. He let me know that he is not getting as many interviews as he wants, so we had a discussion, and it was a good one indeed. Through the discussion, we discovered several things about his job search that were working, but one of the first things we decided was that we needed to change a few things around anyway. It made me think of things that I could share with others that also make sense to change at the beginning to see immediate results. If we cannot get to the interview stage, we will never get to the new job stage.
When we are job seeking, it is difficult to always feel good, to feel like we are making headway – usually we measure how many interviews we are getting to measure our success. There are times when it feels as if nothing is working, because we are sending out several resumes with no interview responses. Sometimes, when it feels like things are not working, that is the time to take a moment and reflect on what is working, what is not, and what to change. Rather than look at things whether they are good or bad, it makes more sense to look at your efforts, and ask yourself, “am I getting results I want?” In this case, the results are interviews. Rather than look at good or bad, because this means either you are doing something right or wrong, look at the results you are getting.
- Is your resume getting enough returns? Your resume should be generating at least two interviews of every 10 that you send out. If it is not doing that, you need a different resume. You do not need a “better” resume; you need one that gets different results. You should be writing a new resumes for every single job and that you apply to, and if you are not now is the time to start. You need to describe your features and benefits to a potential employer, so that they can understand why they need to talk to you and what you can do for the business. I wrote an article over here about doing research on the company before you reach a resume; there is also a free tool you can download.
- Are you sending a cover letter with your resume? Many recruiters are now saying that a cover letter is obsolete, but I have to disagree. A cover letter is another place where you can insert keywords, can describe your features and benefits, or you can have one more chance to grab the reader’s interest. The cover letter is wrapping on the gift of the resume. There are several types of cover letters, including a broadcast letter, a prospecting letter, and a letter of interest. Here it is a link to my answers on this very question from www.quora.com.
- If you do not want to send a cover letter, you can add an entirely separate page at the end of your resume. If you are applying to a company that does online applications, you can have a separate page that highlights key words and skills that you bring to the table. There is really no name for this document, but what it does is help the applicant tracking system to find your resume because it notices key words. One way to find a keywords base to look for several different job applications and run them through a word cloud. A free online program to do this is www.to cloud.com. You highlight the text from a few job ads, and paste them into one document. You then run this document through the word club, and look for the most common words. These are some of the words you can use on this last page.
- Are you sending a thank you letter? This is an often forgotten about activity, but it can be the difference between a job offer and another disappointment. I would suggest going to your local dollar store and buying a pack of 10 think you cards for a dollar. This way you can insert some specific thoughts and your thank you card after you have touched the employer through any type of communication. Another way to touch the employer is to insert your business card with a thank you card, so they have another way to communicate with you.
- Does your resume begin to target the specific features and benefits that you bring to the position? Think of a car, it has features that offer you benefits. The feature of the car is that it gets good gas mileage; the benefit to you is decreased expenses. A feature you bring to the employer may be your organizational skills, which benefits the employer by saving them money or increasing their efficiency. Not every employer wants the same thing out of every employee, so make sure that you ask questions. I wrote a blog posting over here about not only asking the right questions, but also promoting them in the way that makes the most sense.
Your marketing tools are the first time that you get to touch an employer, so if they are not attractive to the employer it does not go any further. Seek feedback, and look for results from your actions. If you are not getting the results you want, you need different actions. How many resumes have you sent out to get one interview? If you are not getting one interview from five resumes, try some of these tips. Have you done something lately to help increase your interview captures? Leave a comment below, and we can all perhaps try something a little different, and increase our interview ratios.