By Dr. John Sullivan, globally renowned as a strategist in the field of human resources and talent management
Most individuals use a conservative job search approach. Almost everyone relies on job boards and submitted resumes to get them an interview. However, it's important to realize that because of high unemployment rates, there are extremely high levels of competition for most jobs. This competitive market means that the traditional conservative resume submission approach can have a success rate of less than 1%. As a result, I recommend that you consider using bolder and more aggressive approaches for getting your resume seen and read. The basic premise of this approach is to utilize additional "channels" in order to get your resume read. It's important to note that you don't have to use these aggressive approaches everytime, you can use them only on jobs were the competition is extremely high or where traditional methods haven't produced results.
Bold approaches for getting your resume seen and read
If you're having difficulty getting your resume seen or read by recruiters and hiring managers, consider using one or more of these bold approaches.
· Become an employee referral – employee referrals are the #1 source of hires, so getting a top employee to refer you will almost guarantee that your resume will be read. Ask your references, LinkedIn contacts, extended family and mentors that work at desirable firms to make you a referral. Use social media to contact employees at your target firms and then build a relationship over time, so that they eventually feel comfortable about making you a referral.
· Become a keyword expert – after employee referrals, the next best way to get your resume noticed by a recruiter is to score near the top of the computerized resume rankings (based on keywords) for your job. This is because most resumes at larger firms are initially scanned by software packages that rank or rate resumes for individual jobs based on the number of keywords that are included in each resume. As a result, it is wise to make a complete list of the keywords that appear in both this position description and the position description for the job immediately above it. Then include in your resume as many of these keywords as you can honestly justify. Keyword categories usually include skills, experiences, common problems, tools and approaches used, company names, this company’s values and key functional and industry buzzwords.
· Send your resume directly to the hiring manager – in many cases, recruiters simply don't know the difference between a good and a great candidate. As a result, it is wise to assume that the recruiter assigned to your target position either screened your resume out or accidentally missed it. To increase your odds, it can be a good idea to also send a copy of your resume directly to the hiring manager. Additionally, you might also send them to key team members in the hope that one of them will decide to "champion" your selection. If you want to be the first resume read, send your resume to the hiring manager during the time period when the job is exclusively posted internally. During this internal applicants only time period you are more likely to get noticed because the manager would not have seen any external resumes yet.
· Send your resume directly to the assigned recruiter - if you can identify which recruiter is assigned to your target job, it's often a good idea to send them a copy of your resume directly. This serves as a backup in the cases where your resume didn't score high enough on the computerized resume keyword ranking list to even be seen by the recruiter. Sending your resume to a recruiter that is located at the site where the job actually is (as opposed to the recruiters at corporate headquarters) might result in the "local" recruiter "championing" bringing you in for an interview.
· Apply often - the same resume that is ignored one week may be read the next, either by accident or due to the fact that a job suddenly opened up in that area. There is no penalty for over-applying and you might even get points for being persistent.
If your current approach isn't working, it only makes sense to try something new and more aggressive. Although circumventing traditional HR resume submission channels does involve some risks, they are minimal compared to the many benefits.
© Dr. John Sullivan 7/20/12