Written by Paul Bailey
Is your job hunt stalled because employers don’t respond to your inquiries? It’s time to rethink your communications strategy. Are you sending generic letters and resumes? Do you emphasize your skills and achievements? There’s a better way to gain an employer’s attention — and it’s easier than you may think.
Consider this — most recruiters rely on social media to check candidate profiles. Why not take a page from their playbook, and leverage social surveillance in your job search? It’s only fair. And it’s entirely free. All it takes is a little bit of digging.
Here’s how you can find helpful information and use it to ace every step of the job application process:
Start By Looking And Listening On Social Channels
Let’s say you find an ad for an attractive job. Your first step is to look at the company’s digital footprint — its primary website, as well as its blog, and presence on LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter and Facebook. At each location search for the following:
• Hiring manager or recruiter name. Review their Linkedin profiles. Do you have anything in common, professionally? Be sure to check their interests and interview pet peeves on Facebook or Twitter.
• Company background. Familiarize yourself with the organization’s target demographics, recent news, and products/services.
• Someone who’s working in the position for which you’re applying. That person has the job you’re targeting for a good reason, so check what you have in common. If they have qualifications or technical knowledge you don’t, and those are related to the job, that’s a clue. Study those differences.
• Challenges the company and its industry are facing. Prepare two or three suggestions on how you could help address those issues.
• Company values, vision and mission. This is required baseline knowledge for anyone who wants to be considered a serious job contender in the social era.
Next Steps: Put Information To Use 3 Ways
1) On Your Resume
Take time to customize your resume. Align your skills and credentials with the job you’re pursuing. Highlight related achievements, too.
Remember your research on the person who already has the job you’re seeking? Look at how that person describes the job, and think about how you could insert skills or tasks on your resume that fit with that description. (Of course, don’t list these skills unless you really have them. Authenticity trumps all.)
2) On Your Cover Letter
Don’t start your cover letter with “Dear Sir/Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern.” Address the the recruiter or hiring manager directly.
Include key phrases from the job ad, and pair them with some phrases from the company’s mission/vision/values. For example, instead of writing “analyst with five years’ experience in banking,” say “analyst with a get-it-done attitude and five years’ experience in banking” (where “get-it-done attitude” is part of the company’s values).
You might think this is cheesy, but it gives the recruiter a subliminal signal that says, “Hey, this candidate will do well in our culture.” It’s also much better than using generic cliché phrases, such as “hardworking,” “honest” or “quick learner.”
3) In Interviews
Use your knowledge of the interviewer’s LinkedIn and Facebook profiles to break the ice. If you don’t have anything in common, try talking about their interests.
Don’t say something like, “I saw you worked at Chase Bank for two years. I worked there as an intern!” This ruins the ice-breaker because the recruiter will sense you’re trying too hard to establish rapport, and it reveals that you’ve been snooping on social sites.
Mention whatever it is you have in common, but don’t drag the recruiter into it. Say, “I was an intern at Chase Bank.” It’s likely that the recruiter will respond by acknowledging his history there.
Assuming you can establish rapport, the next step is to reinforce why you’re the best candidate for the job by eliminating the competition. This is where most of your research will pay off.
Asking questions makes you stand out from the hundreds who simply shake hands and say, “Thank you for your time.” Ask about the challenges new hires encounter, then tell a story about how you successfully handled similar challenges. Your awareness of current employees’ skills will be helpful, as you highlight your job-specific knowledge and competence with necessary tools. If you can confidently use the jargon or lingo associated with the job, use it.
Ask about the challenges faced by the company or industry, then share suggestions you’ve prepared in advance. However, don’t overdo it. Your task is to portray yourself as a problem-solver, not a know-it-all.
The next time you want to apply for a job, do research before you send an application. Customize your resume and cover letter for every job application you send. And use the intelligence to prepare yourself to stand out from the crowd.
Have you tried these techniques in a job search? How did they work for you? What other ideas do you recommend? Share you comments below.
(About the author: Paul Bailey is a certified professional coach and business improvement consultant with more than 12 years of experience. He specializes in helping people realize their potential and unleash their inner confidence, so they can find meaningful work that matches their skills and values. Learn more about Paul and his coaching services at Impact Coaching & Mentoring. Or connect with Paul on Twitter or Google+.
(Editor’s note: This post is republished from Brazen Life, with permission. Brazen Life is a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals. Hosted by Brazen Careerist, it offers edgy and fun ideas for navigating the changing world of work. Be Brazen!)
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