Why Simply Applying Online Isn’t Getting You Anywhere

February 18th, 2011 § 1 comment

I have been doing a lot of job searching online, but feel like emailing my resume is ineffective. I’ve been considering physically going to the company and handing in my resume in person. What are your thoughts on this?

You’ve certainly got the right sentiment regarding your job search but I doubt that most building security desks would let you into their tenant’s offices without an appointment. What your question really looks at is how we can be more proactive (a recurring theme of Holla) when seeking opportunities during our search.

Applying for jobs online has simplified the process for candidates in almost a detrimental manner. When the baseline effort required to submit a resume is easy as signing up for an account at TheLadders.com or Monster, one can apply for a hundred jobs in 15 minutes plus a few seconds per posting. The inevitable result is a recruiter on the other end of a job board pipeline that flows endlessly with unqualified candidates. The small percentage of legitimate candidates for the position can be easily passed over as the pipeline continues to flood. Just the time required to review so many resumes occupies time that could be better served speaking to more in first round phone screens than is actually possible. With so many individuals all vying for small slices of a recruiter’s time, being proactive, creative and aggressive with how you contact a potential employer can provide a significant competitive advantage.

Submitting via a job board is not really emailing a resume.

The question from today’s job seeker indicates that “emailing” his resume has produced little in the way of positive results. It is safe to assume that by “emailing,” he really means “submitting via a job board.” There is a very real difference between the two. Resumes submitted through a job board all arrive in the same format: consistent subject lines with the title and candidate’s name, a table of information in the body and a resume attached. Glossing over these similar emails in one’s inbox is just one reason why job boards are ineffective. The difference between really emailing a resume and just submitting via a posting will put your details into an inbox where they’ll stand out – not some Outlook sub-folder that’s combed through once every few days. A little extra effort to ensure your resume gets to the eyes of a hiring manager can significantly increase response rate during a job search.

Begin by scouring the description you have available for clues as to who the hiring manager might be. Often these posted specs include a phrase like, “Working for the Vice President, Financial Reporting, you will be responsible for…”  that will tell you exactly the name of the individual you should source to present your resume to. Researching the individual’s actual name is easily the most difficult part of your research. Using tools like LinkedIn and Spoke to uncover names and titles can be very effective but isn’t perfect or complete. You’ll locate some people but not others so set your expectations appropriately.

With the hiring manager’s name at hand, determine their email address. Visit the firm’s website and write down their URL domain. It’s likely that email addresses are “something@comanydomain.com” and the only other detective work required is determining the formatting of the “something” before the @ symbol. Using the wildcard symbol when searching Google can help you uncover this information. Search for “*@companydomain.com“. The results should boldface email addresses for various company employees that appear on the web. Skip through “info@domain.com” and “sales@domain.com” as these won’t help you reach individuals. It’s finding several addresses listed publicly that follow a “firstname_lastname” or “f.lastname” format that will allow you to contact directly the hiring manager you seek.

When you can’t locate the title of the manager, use an educated guess to drive your research or if all else fails, the same resources should allow you to locate with greater ease the proper HR contact for the position. While an email to a hiring manager would be more likely to increase your chances for success, taking the time to send directly to HR will also make your application more visible amongst the crowd.

Don’t squander the opportunity you’ve just created for yourself.

Assume that the result of this hard work and creative effort is that someone in a position of power takes time from their day to carefully read your cover letter and resume. Since you’ve taken the time to present yourself directly, make absolutely sure that the presentation you’re putting forth is the best one possible. Your cover letter should be carefully crafted, specific to the job you’re applying for, and contained both in the body of the email and as a separate Word or PDF attachment. Your resume should be properly formatted and have a legible filename that includes your full name and the position you’re applying for.

Since the candidates sourced from job boards are, on the whole, very sub-par, the expectation a hiring manager has for an individual who seeks them out directly is significantly higher. Make sure that you beat that expectation with a well-targeted application for the firm’s opening.

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