When you apply for a job, the process usually works like this: Recruiters screen resumes, conduct phone interviews and present the top candidates to the hiring manager.
But even if you do everything right when you respond to a job posting, don’t assume you’ve got the best shot. A survey of large employers by recruiting advisors CareerXroads showed that referrals accounted for a whopping 28 percent of successful candidates in 2011. So it’s obvious that networking is a hugely effective way to find work. In fact, researching the market, targeting specific employers and networking increases your chances of success by 15 to 25 percent.
On top of that, having an insider recommend you or forward your resume to the hiring manager helps you circumvent the keyword-matching software that Human Resources uses to select resumes from the applicant database.
So how do you break through?
- Create and post a grammatically correct, keyword-rich resume and use search agents to find suitable employers and positions.
- Coordinate your resume with your online profiles and refresh them weekly.
- Customize your resume and cover letter for each position and company you apply to.
- Use a professional sounding email address and voicemail greeting.
- Search yourself on the Internet and scrub inappropriate content from social media sites.
- Build your brand by blogging and joining professional organizations. Some 86 percent of employers in a Microsoft survey said that having a positive online presence influences a candidate’s reputation.
- Follow-up. Candidates who follow up have a much greater chance than people who don’t. It only takes a few emails and phone calls.