I have a lot of friends applying to jobs… okay, not a lot… more like a substantial amount of my friends are looking for jobs. Every time I ask them about how their search is going, they respond with how difficult it is to find a job or how there is so much competition for a job right now. Naturally, I ask them what they’re doing and if there are any improvements they can make in their search.
Here’s the problem: the general consensus seems that sending an application, resume, and a letter is job seeking. Here’s how I look at it: good start. What else are you doing? Is that all?
YES, I know the job market sucks. I realize we’re at our highest unemployment rate in over ten years. Yes, we are in a recession. SO WHAT? WAKE UP.
Let’s be objective. Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of an Human Resources (HR) manager for a company who has just posted a job opening. Just for the sake of having numbers, let’s say this position is for entry-level finance position in the state of California. Every year, there are over 700,000 graduates in the US who’ve graduated in finance. Let’s say only 0.5% (Yes, that’s half of 1 percent) of those graduates applied for this position. That means, 3,500 graduates applied for this position. That number seems ridiculously high. This number does not even include the other people who could have applied for this job, like the people who graduated the years before (who have not found a job), the people who have finished internships and applied for this job, the people who have some experience and applied for this job, or even the people who did not graduate in finance and applied for this job.
My point is when you apply for a job, the numbers are against you. Even if a company only accepted the first 500 applicants, you’re competing against 499 other applicants. How are you going to stand out? Sending a resume, a letter, and an application puts you close to 0.2% (that’s if the company ONLY looked at applications and everyone had the same qualifications and credentials). So what else can you do?
Well, here is what I would do to stand out.
- Introduce yourself to the HR manager. How many other people do you think are doing this? Even if 99 others are doing it, you’ve put yourself in the 1/5.
- Research the Company PRIOR to the introduction. This way, when you meet with the HR manager, you can talk about their company and not only show that you’re proactive in your work, but you have a serious and active interest in the company. BONUS Points!
- Find Out Company Weaknesses and Be Bold – Submit a Proposal on How You’d Fix It. If I was an HR manager and someone wrote a coherent and practical proposal for my company, I would probably hire that person on the spot.
- Send a Thank You Note. After you’ve met with the HR manager, let them know that their time is very important to you and thank them for it. This will give them an additional reminder of how you’re serious in your work.
- Be Different. Stand Out. There are a million ways to stand out from other people. How would you stand out?
Actually, I would like to hear other ways you could stand out so I can add them to my list! Comment below!
Some other words of advice:
- Have someone look over, edit, and revise your resume and letter. If you have any grammatical or spelling errors, you’ll probably be the first person to be dropped.
- Don’t send a generic letter to every company you apply for. Most HR managers have read so many letters that they’ll be able to differentiate a generic letter and an actual letter written to that company.
- Try introducing yourself to companies that are not hiring! Walk into a company you want to work for, but is not necessarily hiring. Introduce yourself to the HR manager there with, “Hello, I know your company is not hiring, but when you are, I would be the perfect candidate for the position because 1, 2, and 3. Here’s what I would contribute to the company.” I’m sure the HR manager would mention you to his/her boss and they would consider you for a position that may not have even existed.