A surprising number of job seekers think the key to getting hired is submitting a resume to as many job openings as possible. They may have no real qualifications for the job, and don't really know anything about the employer, but they apply anyway. And if there are multiple openings at one company? They apply to all of them! Quantity, not quality, baby!
This is what I like to call resume promiscuity, and like that other kind of promiscuity, it's pretty ineffective if your goal is a meaningful, long-term gig.
In fact, sending copies of your generic resume to 100 places is far less likely to get you an interview than sending 5 or 10 targeted resumes to employers you really want to work for (with job openings you're actually qualified to fill).
But that means you have to invest some time and effort before you apply. If you take these five steps (which, fortunately, most of your competition won't), you'll greatly increase your chance of getting called for an interview:
- When you find an opening on a job board, do not just hit the APPLY button and send the resume you uploaded six months ago. Save the posting. Print it out.
- Make note of the parts of the job description that caught your eye, and the ones that align well with your experience or education. Also, highlight the key requirements and any submission instructions. Those are the things you'll emphasize in your resume and cover letter. (Here's a super-easy way to organize the information.)
- Visit the employer's web site. Get a feel for what they do, how they communicate, what values they put forth, and what's been happening in their industry.
- Look at the About Us page on their site. It may give you insights into the management team and the size and structure of the business.
- Look for a page or link with the word Careers, Employment, or Jobs in the title. See if your desired job is posted there. (When you're ready, you may even be able to apply directly from the employer's site, rather than from the job board.)
Then, customize your resume and cover letter to address the things that are important to that employer. You don’t have to start from scratch every time. Create one resume and cover letter, then edit and save multiple versions, each dedicated to a specific opportunity.
Take your time, do your homework, and be sure each resume and cover letter you send reflects your enthusiasm for the exact job and the exact employer.
You'll wind up with a superior resume presentation that shows you’re a serious, self-respecting candidate who's not just looking for a quick hire from whoever will have you.
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