Let’s face it; they call it the black hole for a reason. According to Wikipedia, a black hole is a region of space from which nothing, not even light, can escape. So if your résumé goes into this dark and dismal place, will you ever get called for an interview? Probably not. Unless you take a few proactive steps, you will be among the many who get no response and scratch their heads wondering why.
Below are some tips and tricks to help you gain more traction from your online résumé submissions; but prior to delving in, I would like to mention that applying online for jobs should only be a small fraction of your job search efforts.
In fact, the US Department of Labor estimates that online jobs comprise a paltry 10-15% of the opportunities available to job seekers. Use area networking and volunteerism, trade publications, and social media avenues to identify opportunities you won’t find online.
- Before you apply for a position online, look at the job description carefully to determine if your background represents a true match. If you have most everything then it is likely a good fit, but keep in mind if there is a “must have” and you don’t have it, you are probably wasting valuable time.
- Make sure your résumé is perfect. Optimize keywords in the core competency section and throughout your document to reflect experience pertaining to the role. Also be sure not to put your contact information in the header/footer of a word doc; some applicant tracking systems cannot read this information. DON’T forget a cover letter. It is okay to paste it in the email message. A well-written note can make or break you when busy recruiters are screening through résumés.
- Follow up. While it can sometimes be nearly impossible to identify the exact name of a specific hiring manager or HR recruiter from a posting, this is the best thing you can do; and there are research tools to help. Our firm recently began providing a value added research service to meet this need in response to candidate requests.
- If you can’t get a name, you can contact corporate headquarters and explain that you recently sent a résumé and want to ensure it was received. At this point, you will often be directed to an HR voicemail and can then get a name, or at least bring attention to yourself. This is particularly effective in a situation where you are an ideal fit. If you make a quick pitch by phone, you can effectively “cut in line”! If they won’t put you through, call back and just ask for the HR fax number. Then you can also fax your résumé.
- Another trick is to call before or after hours. Many times you can follow the voice recording and identify departmental listings that if selected, will put you into a person’s voicemail. Calling at odd times may even yield a direct call with a hiring manager.
There are times when an ad is blind and you won’t know who the firm is. In this situation, there is not too much you can do other than be sure your résumé and cover letter are stellar. Submit yourself as a prospective candidate with the knowledge that you have done your absolute best to capture attention and garner as much interest as possible.