Whether you’re just starting out or looking to take your career to the next level, you’ll need to search for a job. There are so many websites with job boards, it can be a daunting process to check all of them and apply for positions that in which you are interested and qualified. Additionally, submitting cover letters and resumes through standard application forms can make you feel very disconnected from the company and the hiring manager. So what’s the smartest way to search for a job? I spoke with Jessica Hernandez, President and CEO of Great Resumes Fast, via e-mail after reading a few of her contributing articles on Careerealism.com, for advice on job searching the right way.
Don’t rely on job boards.
Although they are a great place to start, there are so many open positions in your field that don’t get posted to online job boards.
“It’s a big misconception,” says Hernandez. “Start by tapping into the hidden job market… cold calling decision makers, mailing out copies of your resume and cover letter to target companies, network, use social media.”
Another tip she has, and I completely agree, is to schedule informational interviews with companies in which you are interested. If you have always admired the travel editor at the New York Times, send her an e-mail and ask to meet for coffee to ask how she landed that position and the steps you can take to eventually en up in a similar spot.
Do explain why you want the job right away.
Your cover letter is the first thing potential employers see. If you can’t hook them with why you want to work for them and why you believe you’re a great fit for the position within the first 30 seconds of them reading, you’ll end up in the “no” stack.
Hernandez suggests getting to the point. “Why do you want to work for them, what’s the common connection or interest there, share that and also explain why they should choose you,” she says. Additionally, don’t be too boring. You need to make a statement with your cover letter while getting to the point fast.
Need help being creative? Here’s “6 Unconventional Ways to Start Your Cover Letter” from Glassdoor.
Don’t forget about your LinkedIn.
We often spend so much time on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in our free time, and job boards and e-mail during the search, that LinkedIn can sometimes be pushed to the way side. Instead, incorporate it into your job search by utilizing its job boards, networking with past coworkers, bosses, mentors or classmates, and by offering as much information about your experience as you can.
“[LinkedIn is] a professional networking platform, but so much more now that you can follow employers, apply to positions, research decision makers and create an SEO-optimized profile that allows employers and recruiters to actually find you first,” says Hernandez. So, skip sharing that cute puppy video and work on keeping your LinkedIn up-to-date.
Do tailor your cover letter and resume to the position for which you are applying.
This should be a no brainer, but the process of sending out organic cover letter after organic cover letter with no response can be exhausting. However, it’s worth the extra effort.
“Hiring managers are reading hundreds of resumes…by addressing the specific needs and requirements of the position within your cover letter and making this information prominent on your resume, you are giving the employer exactly what they’re asking for,” says Hernandez. “And, believe it or not, very few people actually do that.”
Hernandez explained in her e-mail that she recently posted a job online and of the 20 people who applied, only two were really qualified, and only one bothered to read through the entire ad and supply the documents that she had requested. So, in other words, read the entire job posting and explain why you are a good fit both on your resume and your cover letter – don’t waste your time or the hiring manager’s time by not doing this.
Don’t forget to follow up and do send a thank you note.
Anytime I have ever had an interview for an internship or a job, I have always sent a handwritten thank you note in the mail the next day. And almost every time, it has helped me land a second interview or the position. One time, the editorial assistant who was in charge of internship program even kept my thank you note on her desk! If you have terrible handwriting or think I’m too old-fashioned, at least send a thank you e-mail, because no matter what, following up is a must.
“Following up with a potential employer is probably one of the most successful ways to secure an interview and the job,” says Hernandez. “The majority of applicants will never follow up. Even fewer will send a thank you note or thank you e-mail after the interview. Expressing gratitude and appreciation for the time someone invested into speaking with you about a position they have is never outdated and always wise. It speaks volumes about your interest in the position and when you’re the only person who does so, it makes you look much better than the competition.”
One way to remember to do this is by pre-writing the thank you note before the interview even takes place. Write out the envelope and put the stamp on it. Address the card and sign it, but leave room for a few nice words in between, which can be tailored to what was said during the interview. Then, when you get home, pop it in the mail. It’s really that easy – and SO worth it.
— Hilarey Wojtowicz