On the surface, it would seem that getting a job today should be easier than it’s ever been before. After all, we have the internet, job boards and a direct online application process for virtually every large employer.
Somehow it doesn’t always – or even usually – work out quite as seamlessly as we might think. Maybe that’s not even a surprise. What the internet mostly does is mechanize the job application process. That mostly benefits employers, but not so much job applicants.
Employers can amass hundreds or thousands of applicants for a single job posting, and all they need to do is to sift through the applications to find a few worth interviewing. But as a job applicant, if you’re not among the few who make it past the screening process, your chances of landing a job are probably worse than they’ve ever been.
Here are a few strategies that might help you get past that problem.
Match keywords with your resume or job application
Remember how we just said the internet mechanizes the job application process for employers, and that they sift through the applications to find a few who they’ll interview? They do this by using keywords to identify the best candidates.
Anytime you apply for a job, either with your resume or with a complete employment application, you will need to embed the right keywords. If you can have enough of the right keywords in your application or resume, you will have a better chance of at least getting to the interview stage.
Study the requirements carefully for each job, and take note of any words that either relate specifically to the job, or are repeated. Those are likely keywords, and you should add them to your application or resume for each position you apply for.
While keywords will help, there are some problems with the process. First, you can never be certain you have the right keywords; the employer may be looking for words that are not stated in the job description. Second, packing a resume with keywords is no longer a new idea; a lot of people are doing it, so it isn’t a guarantee of success. Third, the sheer volume of applicants for a single job might still make it highly unlikely that you’ll be the one to get the job.
Find out who the actual decision maker is
One of the reasons it’s so hard to get a job through the internet is heavy competition. In order to increase your chance of success, you will need to be able to orchestrate an end run around the traffic.
One very big way to do that is to identify the actual decision maker, and make direct contact. This will set you head and shoulders above the competition. While others are going through the formal screening process, you’ll be busy talking to the prime person in the organization you need to make contact with.
You can find out who the decision maker is simply by calling the company and asking to speak with the person who is in charge of the department you are likely to work in. Once you identify that person, you can begin a process of gradually making contact.
Related: Are You Using Linked In?
Send your resume by “snail mail”
Job hunters usually neglect this step because they think it’s too “low tech” and will fail to impress an employer. But that makes it the perfect approach! By sending your resume “old school”, you’ll be more likely to get it noticed. Not many job seekers do this anymore, which means the competition will be much lighter.
If you can send your resume directly to the decision maker, you will improve your chances of getting noticed even more.
Send a letter, not a resume
Employers, and even decision makers, can be swamped with resumes. A better way to get noticed could come from not using one. Use a letter instead.
The letter could suggest a novel way to deal with a problem the company is facing, or a better way to handle a specific function. If your suggestion is deemed reasonable, it could be the start of an ongoing dialogue that will eventually lead to an offer of employment.
Network without asking for a job
Most of us understand the concept of using networking to help get a job. But an even better way might be to begin to network with decision makers as peers rather than as someone who can give you a job.
The idea is to network by “talking shop”. If you approach it on that basis, it is both more constructive and less threatening. Everyone wants to exchange ideas with others who work in their business or career field, but far fewer want to help anyone get a job. After all, employers have only so many jobs available anyway.
By networking with potential employers you approach them through the back door where no one else is entering. You can build relationships that will ultimately lead to the job you seek.
When you go on a job hunt, approach it from out-of-the-box and you will increase your chances of success.
Have you ever used any of these techniques to find a job?
(Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)