Considering that more than 90% of recruiters use LinkedIn as their primary search tool, this is not an understatement. If you’re a professional, you need to not only be on LinkedIn, you need to be using it to your full advantage. Don’t believe me? Think about it this way: If tomorrow morning, a recruiter logs onto LinkedIn looking for someone in your geography, with expertise in what you do, and you’re not there? Guess who they’re going to find and contact? Yes, that person’s name is “not you.”
Don’t get me wrong—you absolutely must come across as polished, articulate, and professional throughout your job search. However, many people translate this into: Must. Be. Boring. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Realize that few people get hired because they had perfect white space on their cover letters, memorized all of the “correct” interview questions or used incredibly safe, common phraseology (i.e., clichés) throughout their resumes. All of this correctness is going to make you look staged and non-genuine. Instead, give yourself permission to be both polished and endearing. Memorable, likable candidates are almost always the ones who go the distance.
Yes, your new resume is lovely. Your LinkedIn profile, breathtaking. However, if they don’t position you as a direct match for a particular role that you’re gunning for, don’t be afraid to modify wording, switch around key terms, and swap bullet points in and out. Your resume is not a tattoo, nor is your LinkedIn profile. Treat them as living, breathing documents throughout your job search (and career).
You want that job search to last and last? Well, then continue to rely solely on submitting online applications. You want to accelerate this bad boy? Don’t stop once you apply online for that position. Start finding and then endearing yourself to people working at that company of interest. Schedule informational interviews with would-be peers. Approach an internal recruiter and ask a few questions. Get on the radar of the very people who might influence you getting an interview. (More on that here.)
When you apply for a job via an online application process, it’s very likely that your resume will first be screened by an applicant tracking system and then (assuming you make this first cut) move onto human eyeballs. The first human eyeballs that review your resume are often those of a lower level HR person or recruiter, who may or may not understand all of the nuances of that job for which you’re applying. Thus, it behooves you to make it very simple for both the computer and the human to quickly connect their “Here’s what we’re looking for” to your “Here’s what you can walk through our doors and deliver.”
Accept defeat graciously. You’re not going to get every job you apply for, and that means learning to accept defeat gracefully. If you aren’t hired, don’t take it personally and certainly don’t burn any bridges. Keep your emotions in check and maintain your professionalism. You never know what the future might hold and just because one job with a company doesn’t work out, doesn’t mean there might not be future opportunities there. Make sure you accept the rejection with grace and wrap up any conversations on a hopeful and positive note. It’s also a great idea to follow up a rejection with a thank-you note…yes…a second one! Not only will this distinguish you from other rejected candidates but it will ensure that they see you in a positive note…and will hopefully keep you in mind for future possibilities.
It’s easy to get inside if you already have someone on the inside helping you out! Although we said don’t contact the company once your interview is over and your thank you card has been mailed off, but that doesn’t mean your networking should stop. Now is the time to reach out to your connections and resources within the company. If you have anyone in your network who might be able to positively influence the hiring process, ask them to put in a good word for you with the hiring manager.
Make yourself desirable to an employer by leaving them alone! The fastest way to lose a potential job is to become annoying or appear overeager or manic. Once you’ve sent your thank you note, consider your contact with the company done for the time being. If you’ve wrapped up your interview with the appropriate questions, you should have the company’s hiring time line in your knowledge bank and will know when they should be reaching back out to you. Only contact the employer once that date has passed. If you contact the company prior to that date, you can come off as desperate, or worse, annoying.
Make an even better second impression by sending a thank you note to your interviewer. This is essential. For every interview you go on, expect to send a thank you note. Try to send it within the first 24 hours of your interview and no later than 48. A handwritten card is the preferred way to say thank you and should be short, sweet, and personalized. A good rule of thumb is to keep it to just three paragraphs. Your first paragraph should be a brief thank you for their time and a reiteration of your interest in the job. Your second paragraph should be used to discuss your strengths and how you would benefit the company if hired. Your third paragraph is your wind up. Include answers to any questions you might have gotten in the interview that you weren’t able to answer, or wanted to expand on. Make sure to sign it clearly (so they know who it’s from!) For a more in-depth look at sending thank-you emails and notes, see our article.
Make sure you follow up before you even leave the interview. At the end of your interview, make sure to reinforce the idea that you’re interested in the job. Wrap up with a phrase like “I’m really looking forward to an opportunity to be a part of such a dynamic company and I really hope you select me.” Follow up that statement with a few questions about the next steps you should expect. Not only are you gathering what could be valuable prep information, it’s showing them that you’re eager to continue on and do whatever it takes to get to the subsequent round. If the interviewer is vague, it’s a great opportunity to ask them what they’re vague about and help clarify any questions they might have that weren’t answered in the interview. Now is also the time to get a clear idea of the time table they have. When will selected applicants be asked back for subsequent interviews or to meet other people? Do they have a specific date in mind that they’d like to have the position filled by? Asking questions like these reinforce the idea that you’re enthusiastic about the job…and it lets you know what their schedule is so you’re not blindly waiting.