Build the Business of Your Dreams
By Andy Parkinson, on Tuesday, October 14th, 2008
The recent financial turmoil has created a situation where unemployment could be a problem for quite some time. The good news for the unemployed is that there are tangible things that you can do to increase your chances of getting noticed for the jobs that are available.
Sure, jobs are going away, but jobs are also always being created. Increasing unemployment numbers just mean there are more of the former. Hires are still happening everyday. Plus, jobs are being recycled at companies all over the country. For example:
Oftentimes these are all people who (should) have been providing a vital function to the organization they worked for and that organization will look to fill the void that they left behind.
I recently ran a job ad for a “recycled” position and received hundreds of resumes, literally. I’ve never seen anything like it. Some applicants were so over-qualified it bordered on ridiculousness, yet when we called they were grateful just to hear back from someone.
This post is not about how to write a great resume, there are plenty of resources out there for that. What I hope to do today is to give you insights into the mind of someone who has been responsible for making hiring decisions in this job market. My goal is to help you get you in front of as many potential employers as possible. Here goes:
Don’t just post your resume on Monster.com and expect opportunities to find you. Now is the time to make your own opportunities.
Craig’s List is where we post our job ads. I always check out the competition to see what they are paying for similar job descriptions just to ensure we’re slightly above competitive. I was amazed at the level of activity. Pages and pages of new jobs were added in each category every day.
And it’s no wonder why these listings were on Craig’s List. Depending on where you live, employers pay no more than a meager $25 per category to post their jobs on Craig’s List. In contrast, postings on Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com, etc. can cost into the hundreds each. My prediction is that the more hiring managers are forced to make their budgets go further, the more jobs will end up going to Craig’s List.
We received a good chunk of resumes that used texting/IM speak in the email. “u”, “ur”, “l8r”, “lol”, “luv”, etc. Most of these applicants also share a keyboard with broken shift keys. Nothing was capitalized. Their emails usually would say something like:
“i am very interested in ur job posting. plz revu my resume. i hope 2 hear from u soon. lol.”
I’ve seen this from people applying for positions ranging from receptionist to web developer. I’ve opened the resumes of a few of these out of curiosity and saw they could actually write proper English, which was great. The problem is when employers are going through 80 resumes a day for a single job posting, they don’t need much of a reason to throw a resume in the no pile.
Quite often people tend to ignore key details when they submit their resumes. For example, the job might be a part-time bookkeeper for a software company, but an email/cover letter that is submitted begins with:
Dear Hiring Manager,
I am a recent accounting graduate looking for an full-time, entry-level position in the Entertainment Industry……..
Maybe he didn’t really want the job, but he just wasted some time getting closer to what he did want. Or maybe he did, he was just being flexible given his present circumstances. Either way that email shows he’s willing to waste his time and mine. Also, make sure you at least meet the minimum stated qualifications. Ignoring those is another good way to waste time right now.
You’ll want to be ready and waiting to receive calls from potential employers for at least a week after you submit your last resume. Hiring departments are overloaded with applicants and it takes a while to weed through all of them.
If you cannot answer your phone, make sure you re-record your unprofessional voicemail greeting, especially if it sucks. I’ve called a few prospective applicants where voicemail greetings left a bad taste in my mouth. The most painful example I’ve endured was about a minute of of Destiny’s Child “Survivor” with the would-be applicant chiming in on the chorus.
This is the most important thing you can do. Whenever I call an applicant, the first thing I ask is “So what do you know about the company?” The answer usually determines how the rest of the call goes.
Sometimes I get “I don’t really know beyond what you mentioned in the ad. I think you crank large amounts of widgets right?” Which is a solid C response. Once I got “You know, I really don’t know… I submitted my resume to, like, 500 places.” Yeah. That’s an F. In either case you can do better.
At this stage you don’t need to show your employer you know everything about them, just enough to show that you are pro-active and interested. At a minimum I’d recommend doing the following:
If you get a callback, quickly find your notes for the company that is giving you a call. Acknowledge that you remember their ad and you’re pulling out a file with information you had collected. Be ready to answer questions about the company. If you don’t really know what the company does, say so. For example:
“I checked out your website and it sounds like you are doing something with cranking and widgets, which sounds very interesting. I also see the management team has a lot of experience so it sounds like an exciting opportunity. I’d love to understand more about what you’re doing and how I can help you.”
I’d be very satisfied with that response. It shows an applicant at least tried and is interested in learning more. At this stage that is more than enough.
I was going through this list with my girlfriend the other day. Her response to pretty much all of them was a simple “Duh!” Fine. I agree. They seem obvious. One would hope they are obvious, but out of 211 responses I’d say less than 15 passed all of these.
At the very least, please don’t make these basic mistakes. The fact is the average employer can be selective right now. Follow these tips and you’ll be able to increase the odds of getting your foot in the door. The rest is up to you!
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