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How to Get On the Interview List for Your Next Job App

As you’ve probably noticed, we believe in straight talk for the job search. And we’re fighting back after the recent Wall Street Journal article on “Your Resume versus Oblivion.”

It pains us to think that only 25 out of every 100 applications for a job are only looked at — and frustrates us that the rest are overlooked because the resume doesn’t have the right keywords or phrases that show that the application is a fit for the job.

We don’t like those odds. But, as we noted last week — it helps even to know when you aren’t in the running for a job. Because then you can do something about it.

And there’s a lot you can do about it — and make your way onto an interview list. Here are three essential steps you can take.

  1. Apply early.  We can’t stress this enough. It’s really important to apply within the first seven days that a job listing comes out. If you apply later, your application may not even get looked at.Why: Because most people who hire need to hire because they have more work then they can get to right now. And when they do their first review of applications, they typically make a short list of eight or fewer people who could do the job. These are the names that make the first interview list.And sometimes the people who hire — or their recruiters — only take a second look at applications if the people on the short list don’t work out. So it’s important to be early.How important? Out of a StartWiresurvey of 6400 hires in 2010, approximately 50% applied for the job they landed within one week of the job posting.Tip: You’ll get a job alert for any search you save in StartWire — just tell us what you’re looking for and we can send you the leads.
  2. Make yourself real. Even if you’ve got a great resume and the best cover letter ever, you are only a name in a stack of applications until you get heard.Don’t be afraid to find a connection to the company and follow-up. Referrals are the #1 way most employers prefer to hire people they don’t know. Use LinkedIn and other tools to find any contacts you have that are associated with the place you want to work. (Tip: Connect your LinkedIn and Facebook accounts to StartWireand you’ll see this information when you look at job listings, too.)When you follow-up, you may want to put this advice in practice. Here are tips we received recently from folks at the Emily Post Institute:
    • Open your message by letting people know how you know them.
    • Provide information on your interests — and why you are contacting them. (e.g. “I’ve just applied to work at a great company, _______, and I understand your friend Sam works there as a _________. I was wondering if you might be able to put us in touch?”)
    • Offer your assistance as well. “I hope things are going well at _______. If I may be able to help you in anyway, please let me know.”
    • Provide your contact information, and say thank you again. (The Emily Post folks say the second thank you is critical!)If you can get an introduction, that’s great. But don’t expect a referral to do all the work for you. Offer to send a copy of your application materials if they are interested in seeing them — and continue to apply through official channels.(Here’s a tip not often mentioned: You can’t be hired at most companies unless you’ve at least submitted an application through official channels. This is because they can’t count you as an applicant otherwise.)
  3. Don’t be afraid to follow-up. Many postings may say “no calls.” But the truth is, many people will talk to you if you do call — and it can help you stand out in the applicant pool. After all, people who advertise for help — need help. And if you’re following up, it shows that you are ready and willing to help.The worst thing that can happen is for someone to say the job’s been filled — which leaves you in a position to move on. The best thing, “I was going to go over applications later in the day, but since you’re calling — could you come in for an interview instead?”Again, showing that you’re interested and following up — shows that you are genuinely interested in the job. And if you add in a sentence or two that ties what the employer needs to the job, you can easily be that candidate that gets invited to come in.

Next Tuesday: The five minute trick to finding the right keywords to use in your resume when you apply for THAT job…And how to make them pop in your resume. Stay tuned!

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