From the outset… it must be understood that THE best way to land a new job is through networking, and networking is most effective over the phone and face-to-face.
However, for many people, the thought of actually taking the initiative to call someone they don’t know is overwhelming and often is just not going to happen. For those people, contact online and by email is much more palatable and realistic. Here are some pointers to make the process as effective as possible.
~ Create an effective resume and tailor it for each position. If your resume doesn’t easily show how you are an obvious fit for a particular position, you will not likely be considered. It’s critical that you tailor your resume for each position you pursue in order to highlight your relevant experience and skills for that role. You can get additional help here.
~ You still have to connect with real people! In this market, it’s not realistic to expect success by simply submitting a resume online and waiting for a call. The competition is too steep, and even if you’re a perfect fit for a particular job it’s very difficult for them to find you. The only way to get noticed is by taking extra steps by contacting people.
Submit your resume through the online posting, however, additionally send an email to the best contacts you can find at the organization through LinkedIn, JigSaw, and Google. You can find additional help in finding contacts here. Your email should include a SHORT introduction of why you are a unique fit for the role, and have your resume attached. Send a similar email to multiple people in the organization.
~ Follow up matters. Submitting, and emailing the resume is not enough. A professional follow up sets you ahead of the vast majority of other candidates. A few days after presenting the resume, send another email with a BRIEF message of your interest and one or two compelling reasons you are a strong fit for the role. Attach another copy of your resume so they have it handy and make sure your contact information is prevalent in your email. Ask if there is anyone else in the organization they recommend you connect with. Send a similar note to each of the people you emailed originally.
~ Persistence Pays! Following up on a regular basis… professionally, pays dividends. Most candidates simply submit their resumes and wait. Candidates that get called are the ones that show extra initiative and stay in the forefront. Creating a marketing plan of follow ups, adding a little more information each time, helps to set you apart from the crowd. Each note should be very brief, professional, and show your value to the organization. Additionally, send a hand written Thank You note thanking them for their continued consideration and your sincere interest in the role. This should be done with multiple people in the organization. Although it would help for each of them to be related to the role you are pursuing, it’s not necessary. Even someone in Accounting can pass along positive information to someone in Engineering. Be sure all your contact information is included in each email.
~ Create a network list and update your network monthly. Most people want to help, but if they don’t know you are looking or don’t know if you’re still available they can’t. Create a list of EVERYONE you know… friends, family, former co-workers, neighbors, other parents at your kids sports teams, etc. Send them an email letting them know you are looking for a new position. Let them know BRIEFLY what you do. And let them each know that you would be grateful for any additional contact they might provide of people they think might be worthwhile for you to connect to.
Then send out a monthly email to everyone on your list and everyone you’ve contacted since the last time with an update of your search. Let them know of companies you’ve pursued, interviews you may have had, leads you’ve been chasing down, and great contacts you may have made. Let them know you are still looking for the right opportunity and would continue to welcome any new contacts or leads that may have come to mind.
Often you may connect with someone, and they come across a contact or opportunity weeks later, but think you are probably not looking any more by that time. This is a way to show that you are active and still interested. Send them regularly.
~ Keep records. Be sure to keep careful records of what information you sent to whom and when. You don’t want to duplicate the same note to the same person, and you want to be able to refer to what you’ve sent when you do get a call from someone. Few things can mess up your good work more quickly than if they ask you about something you sent and you have no idea what they’re talking about. Keep track of all your activity!
The process can often be accelerated and more effective by making phone calls and actually talking to people. However, if that is more than you feel you can handle, an effective online / email / snail-mail campaign can be effective as well. Whatever you do, don’t just apply and wait. Your job search will become MUCH longer than necessary.