Consider these 12 tips before pressing “submit:”
1) Search job boards and the websites of employers that appeal to you. Print out the job postings that you’re interested in pursuing before you apply.
2) Use a highlighter to mark the keywords and industry language used to describe the requirements and responsibilities.
3) Compare those words and phrases to the language that appears in your current resume.
4) Figure out how and where to add the most relevant keywords to your resume, assuming you have the specific knowledge, skills and experience. Applicant tracking systems will search for keyword matches – the more matches, the better, which often determines if a recruiter opts to view your resume.
5) Once you’re confident that your resume reflects a strong match, go ahead and submit that targeted resume online.
6) If the system requests a cover letter, write a short one that expresses why you’re a strong match and why you’d like to join the organization. This is a chance to tout your research on the role.
7) Never submit a generic, one-size-fits-all resume or cover letter. If you really want the position, you’ll customize all documents for each job.
8) Once you apply, get to work to find an internal referral to make a personal introduction. Here’s how:
9) Follow up with a call or email to the recruiter responsible for filling the position. Never say, “Did you get my resume?” Instead be ready to reiterate your strong qualifications and interest in the role. You’ll have just a brief moment to sell yourself, so rehearse before making the call or sending the email.
10) Don’t know the name of the right person? Cold-call the company and ask an operator to put you through. If that doesn’t work, Google the term “recruiter” or “HR director” along with the name of your employer of choice. The results may reveal the name you’re trying to find. LinkedIn is another resource to find the correct name.
11) Stay top of mind. Every recruiter is different, which makes this a challenge. Some say you’re welcome to follow up weekly. Others say every other week is enough. And then there are some who’ll tell you to never call. Find the right balance so you’re politely persistent without crossing over to a pest.
12) Ask directly for advice on how and when to follow up. A simple question, “What’s the best way to keep in touch?” will give you the details you need to stay ahead of the pack.