If a new job is on your list of resolutions, which is #4 on most everyone’s list, right after weight loss, improved finances, and increased exercise, then it’s time to take a new approach to your search. There is no doubt that there are jobs available. If you haven’t been selected for interviews maybe it is time to take a quick look what you’re putting out there.
Your Top 4 Must-Do’s for 2016
Most businesses use ATS (Applicant Tracking System) software. Most of it is really good at pulling out useful information. It recognizes keywords in relationship to each other (which is why putting a list of keywords in your resume does not help—that can actually cause your resume to be kicked out of the system as “abuse”). Properly set up it can recognize industry-specific jargon or vernacular; it can recognize educational institutions, or even degrees earned or granted.
Amazingly, I have seen resumes for high quality programmers that never once used the word “programmer.” They may have created, designed, or initiated systems to drive high level processes, but never once designated themselves as being “programmers”. That plays havoc with the sorting algorithms for ATS software.
Your resume should not be generic. It should be customized for each job you’re applying for, and more specifically, it should incorporate the language of any advertisement related to the position. Those are the words they used. Those are the words they seek in responses. Give them what they want.
Your Cover Letter
Again, this should not be generic. Get the name of the person who is responsible for filling the position. Letters addressed to “To Whom It May Concern” do not concern anybody. If you put a name on it then it becomes that person’s responsibility to deal with it. It only takes a few online inquiries to find the right name to put on your cover letter.
Review your letter, too. It should not be “all about you.” It should tell the story of how your skills will help the company; how it will make the company more money, or increase the efficiency of a process. They don’t care whether your mom needs surgery or if you’re putting your brother through college. Tell them why the company will benefit by hiring you.
Ideally you’ll have a good general set of skills, but so do a lot of other people. Stand out by telling them your three best skills. If you have online certifications for particular skills, let that be known, too.
People get hired because they are the solution to an employer’s problem. Understand most of the pain-points of the employer you’re considering. If they’re having a problem with “X” and you’ve had a lot of experience with “X,” tell them that and, stipulating incomplete knowledge, try suggesting a solution. It may be the wrong solution, but it gives you a chance to show insight and perhaps elicit interest. People with problems love people that offer solutions. You’ll stand out from the crowd.
In 2014 17% of new hires were based on employee referrals; 2015 saw that number rise to 26%. This trend is likely to continue—LinkedIn’s 2016 Global Recruiting Trends
Your Referral Friends
If you have found a company (or four) that you’re particularly interested in, track them on LinkedIn. Join groups related to the company; work on getting some LinkedIn connections within the company. Follow the discussions, ask questions, and if you’re capable, contribute answers. You’ll build credibility in the community.
Then when it comes time to apply for a position within the company, you can consult with your “friends” and see if they can give you a particular name to address your inquiry to. More importantly, you might get one of your newfound friends to recommend you for the position. More and more jobs are being offered based on internal references. Getting to know someone on the inside is often the key to success.
If you are working part-time, or are under-employed, there are plenty of organizations that will happily accept you as a volunteer no matter how sophisticated your skills are. It’s a great way to fill in time gaps in your resume and it garners respect from employers that you make the effort to keep yourself busy and productive.
Many companies don’t begin posting open positions until several weeks into the New Year. Even companies that are in the middle of a candidate search often put hiring on hold for a little while—Katharine Paljug
If you’re working but need to fill in some skill gaps, look online for training you can do at your own pace, or see what evening or weekend courses are available at your local college. Lots of courses start now to capture the people with resolutions to uphold.
With all your documents tuned-up, a new dedication to networking, and ambitions to fill in any gaps, you’re all set for the New Year. Make 2016 great!
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