- They must know you exist
- They must hear you
- You must connect
They must know you exist
Submitting a resume or online application (along with hundreds of other people) isn’t enough for someone to know you exist.
In order for them to know that YOU exist, a real person must read it – not just a computer program scanning your application for key words and prestigious universities.
How do you get a person to read something?
You must either have an exceptional resume and application (think top 5% of all applications they receive), OR deliver something interesting and valuable to a real person.
Use your network to get a phone number, an email address, or an appointment; and when you get someone’s attention, be prepared with a creative pitch that demonstrates the value you can contribute to their organization or cause.
You can also let people know you exist by developing a portfolio and reputation for excellent work. You can start this wherever you are right now – you don’t need an invitation or a call from a recruiter. Volunteer to lead a special project in your current job or your community, publish something about the work you do, or speak to a group on a topic you have expertise in.
They must hear you
Once they know you exist, they must be willing to take time to hear what you have to say.
People will take the time to hear you when your job search is smarter, not louder. Louder is more resumes sent out, more online job applications completed — Smarter is taking the time to produce more thoughtful, more creative applications.
Even if you have a real person’s email address, sending a resume will not necessarily result in them hearing you. A phone call is better; an in person meeting is best.
Once you have their attention, make your case, present your point of view, and showcase your expertise and your passion.
Spend some time learning what would be of interest to the recipient of your application, and treat this communication like a proposal that demonstrates your genuine interest in them, and showcases you and your expertise.
A short, compelling proposal demonstrating why they should consider hiring you does two things that a resume and cover letter do not: 1) It demonstrates initiative and creativity on your part; 2) It provides the potential employer with an idea that might be of value to their business.
Employers will always have time to hear someone who offers them value.
You must connect
A boring resume or awkward phone conversation will not make a meaningful connection.
The connection will come when you demonstrate that you understand something about them, and that you have value to offer.
To connect with a hiring manager or decision maker, do this homework:
- Know what problem they are trying to solve: For example, they might want to sell more stuff to more customers.
- Clearly explain how you can solve it: Demonstrate that you have the skills, experience, connections, ideas, etc.
- Convey that you already understand something about the organization or industry: Assure them that you will not cost them unnecessary time and money and that you fit with their culture.
Do some homework to learn as much as possible before you make your pitch to them.
At the end of the day, you must think like the employer. What if you were on the inside trying to get work done and you had a position to fill, hundreds of applicants, and no time? Make it easy on them.
Stop sending out hundreds of resumes to every job posting you find. Spend more time on those few that really interest you, and deliver a customized, personalized application proposal that reflects you and the value you offer.
Be heard. Connect. Get the job.
Thanks to Dr. Rex Foster for the guest blog post. His thoughtful voice always lends clarity and new perspective to familiar ideas. Dr. Foster has been a refugee mentor and LIRS Director of Evaluation and now serves as Director of Performance Management at Catholic Charities, Baltimore.