How can you improve the odds that you are chosen from the sea of resumes procured from the web or at a job fair? Kevin Donlin gives some expert advice on how you can use your network creatively to stand out.
You may think it difficult to grab the attention of employers at busy job fairs or on big employment web sites like Monster.
But it can be done.
By using information and your network creatively, you can cut through the clutter and make a connection with hiring managers.
That's what two smart job seekers did, whose stories are below. What can you learn from each?
1) Get hired online by creating buzz
Here's a clever method that got one woman hired for a director-level position she found advertised on Monster.
Yes, that's right, Monster, where millions of resumes are competing against yours for every job opening posted.
She did it by creating buzz about herself that got the hiring manager's attention.
Here's her story, in brief …
"A search on Monster turned up the opening I wanted. I then used my network to find people who'd refer me. I timed submitting my resume through the job board with the referrals," says Barbara Finer, from suburban Boston, Mass.
Finer's smart sense of timing ensured that her resume and the referrals from people in her network all arrived about the same time.
"The resulting confluence of resources got me on the top of the pile, and I was hired as Director of Product Marketing at a Boston-area company," says Finer.
You can do this, too, in five steps …
1. When you find a job posted online that you really want to apply for, don't. First, use your network -- especially your contacts at LinkedIn, Facebook or MySpace -- to reach out to people who work at the target employer.
2. Ask folks to refer your resume to the hiring manager of the department you want to work for. Give them one specific day to do so, say, Tuesday.
3. On Tuesday morning, submit your resume to the job posting online.
4. These multiple, coordinated contacts -- from your resume coming in via the job board and the people in your network contacting the hiring manager -- should generate enough buzz to get your name on the employer's radar.
5. From there, it's up to you to interview and follow up intelligently. But getting noticed for a job posted on a major employment web site is half the battle.
2) Get Hired at a Job Fair by Doing Your Homework
One of my clients, Tom W. from Golden Valley, Minn., was just hired for a new position after attending a Minneapolis Star Tribune job fair.
The critical success factor for him was one simple thing he did before the job fair itself: His homework!
Here's the story …
"I kept up on the local business scene by reading regularly. In one magazine article, I learned that one company had picked up 200,000 square feet of office space downtown on a 10-year lease, and I filed that information away," says Tom.
When he saw that company's name listed among the employers at the job fair he planned to attend, Tom knew he had an effective conversation starter.
"When I met the hiring manager at the event, I told him what I knew about their plans to expand, based on my reading. He was impressed with my knowledge and we really clicked. Everything went very quickly after that, ending with a job offer a few days later."
Here are two ways you can be like Tom, and make a fantastic first impression at a job fair …
1. Research and find relevant facts about employers before meeting them.
Good news: All job fairs publish a list of participating employers before the event, which eliminates guesswork. Simply research companies that interest you until you find unusual data about them, their competitors, markets, problems, or opportunities.
2. Bring notes to the event.
Once you've found information that proves your interest in an employer, jot down notes on 3x5 cards (or in your PDA) and bring them to the job fair. That way, you can review your notes before talking to hiring managers, so you can make the best impression, stand out … and get hired.