Last week, I wrote about my conversations with two recruitment professionals. These people help process thousands of applications to thousands of jobs every year. If you want to get through the recruiter to the next step in the hiring process, your résumé is the first thing that needs to be perfect. That was last week. This week is everything else you need to know.
- Your cover letter is the place to let your personality shine. You can submit a traditional cover letter, but it won’t help you out a whole lot. You cover letter can help you stand out from the crowd, so make it unique and memorable.
- Don’t submit applications for every job listed at the company. “The employer is then confused about, ‘what are they most interested in?’” Linder says. “Hiring managers don’t want to battle each other about who is going to get this particular candidate.” If there are a small number (two or three) of similar positions, you might apply to more than one. However, if you do, use the same résumé. Put aside the traditional advice of customizing your résumé for each position. In this case, with a single company, consistency is more important. You don’t want to give anyone any doubt about your honesty. Even if you think you can get around the system by applying with a different email address (which is how most systems track your application), it’s not going to earn you any points when (not if) a recruiter notices a duplicate.
- Hunt says that though people don’t like to answer questions about their previous salary or salary expectations, it helps save time for both the recruiter and the applicant. For example, if the budget for a job is $60k, and the applicant is expecting $75k, then the recruiter may move on to more promising prospects rather than putting the applicant through a grueling interview process only to find out that they can’t work for so little money. However, some recruiters may call and ask if the salary expectation is a deal breaker. On the other end of the spectrum, if your last position paid $40k and the minimum salary for the position you’re applying for is $50k, a smart, honest company won’t lowball you and go below the minimum. It’s just bad practice.
- People with leadership and volunteer experience, who can show that they’re proactive, flexible and willing to go the extra mile and work outside their job description, are the people who are going to stand out. If you have relevant job experience in addition, then you have a huge advantage.
- “It’s really important to be responsive to companies when they send out requests for additional information,” Linder says. After you submit your application, every time your phone rings it could be a recruiter, so you want to be professional at all times. Linder also says, “If you do receive an email or a phone call or a request from the employer, respond as fast as you possibly can.” If you receive a call, send a thank you email within a business day. Those personal touches mean a lot.
- After you submit your application (though this is good advice even before you apply), use the time to get really familiar with the company. If you are contacted by a recruiter, you have a limited amount of time to make a good impression. You should also prepare questions about the job or the company to prove that you’re excited to work there.
- Also after you apply, if you can find contact information for a hiring manager or someone who works with the company, it’s not a bad idea to send them a brief message indicating your interest in the company, any details that might make you stand out, and that you would love the chance to work with him or her. You don’t want to be annoying–i.e. sending a message or calling every other day–but sending a personal message may make you stand out.
The takeaway here is that these companies get thousands of applicants, and they don’t have time to analyze your résumé and read your cover letter to place you in an appropriate position. Linden says, “Large companies, because they get such massive candidate applications, you really do have to be an astute candidate to be noticed.” It’s up to you to show that you’re Company XYZ material. Good luck!