Increase odds in your favor on job search
It's Working employment column
A friend of mine called, depressed about her slow-moving job search.
"The holidays took my mind off things for a while," she said, "but now I'm back to the grind, and I'll tell you, I'm not very motivated. Sometimes I think that sending out resumes is like putting quarters in a slot machine. Maybe it's just a waste of time."
Is it a waste of time to send out resumes in response to posted job ads? Since you sometimes don't hear back from the employers you contact to pursue your job search, is anyone even reading your resume?
The answer to this question is a solid "maybe."
It's true that distressingly often, resumes don't get read. No one looks at them because, in many cases, the resume screener only reads as many resumes as he or she needs to in order to schedule one batch of interviews. If a hiring manager asks an HR person to set up four face-to-face interviews, the HR person may not review more resumes than it takes to find four likely candidates. If there are 100 resumes in the pile, and the screener has to read 20 of them in order to find four decent candidates, the other 80 resumes may never get so much as a glance.
But your job search doesn't have to involve so much daily gambling. You can improve the odds that your resume gets looked over, by sending it not just to the HR address specified in the job ad, but also to a manager in the department that's doing the hiring. You can find that person's name by searching sites such as LinkedIn.com (you'll have to sign up to search the database, but membership is free) or ZoomInfo.com. Once you've got a name, a title and a street address -- easily found on the employer's own site -- you can mail off your resume to a person who won't likely have a pile of a hundred resumes on
his desk already. That should up the odds that a human being at the hiring company reads your resume at least once.
There is another way to increase your odds of having your resume reviewed, and that's by writing a pithy, relevant cover letter. Boilerplate "Dear Sir or Madam" cover letters are so 2007 -- and a complete waste of time. Each cover letter should talk about the specific job you're applying for, and should talk more about the employers and its recent accomplishments (once again, easily found on the company's site) than about your own skills. You can use a sentence or two in your cover letter to show how your background matches the posted job opening.
Don't gamble on your job search. Make every resume and cover letter count!
Liz Ryan is a former Fortune 500 VP, a 25-year HR veteran and an expert on careers and the new millennium workplace. An award-winning entrepreneur and workplace adviser, Ryan is author of "Happy About Online Networking" and founder of the global online community www.AskLizRyan.com. E-mail Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org.