Chris Westfall Contributor Careers
You’ve applied online and now you’re just waiting. Wondering. Just how long is this going to take? It looks like you’re a good fit for the gig. You’ve got the education and experience. But you’re not getting the traction you’d like. Assuming you’re not trying to get a job as a brain surgeon while currently working as a dog walker, you should be getting more interest. But something’s missing in your job search. When it comes to submitting your résumé or CV, here are four reasons why you may not be getting called in – and what you can do about it.
- Something Is Sideways On Social:Your pages are being scanned by employers when you are being considered for a job opportunity. The stuff that you thought was hilarious your sophomore year isn’t funny to the partners at the accounting firm. Think they didn’t see the picture of you pouring dishwasher soap into the university fountain with your pals? Think again. Sure, Halloween 2013 was a long time ago, but that picture is right there – with all those raunchy comments – in your instagram feed. Take time out to clean up your social profiles, particularly on Instagram and Facebook. Make sure that who you were back then doesn’t keep you from the job you want tomorrow.
- LinkedIn is Lacking: The best way to reinforce your talent is to show it on LinkedIn. Employers are going to check out your profiles – perhaps you even submitted for the job via this platform. How many recommendations do you have on LinkedIn right now? Those recommendations are social proof. What others say about you is more valuable than what you say about yourself. Ready to elevate your game online? Consider folks you’ve worked with in the past and craft a well-worded request for endorsement. Something like, “As a professional I really respect, you know about my work on [name of specific project goes here]. Could you comment on my [specific skill set or demonstrated talent] in an endorsement? It would mean a lot to me in my current job search. And if I can return the favor in any way, just let me know.” The key here is to be specific about what you did, and guide your endorser towards the skills you want to highlight. Without specifics, you might just get a general hand clap. “Trevor is a great guy, highly recommended!” is not going to help you. Want a tip from the advanced class? Ready to be bold? Go write five recommendations for people in your network that you know and respect. Be specific in your endorsement. Say what you saw them do, and why you appreciated it. It’s good karma – and good visibility for you. What’s the harm in letting people know that you worked with someone who was awesome? They just might respond with a powerful endorsement for you as well!
- Email Disconnection: In your introductory email (your electronic “cover letter” if you will) do you customize the content to reflect the job skills required? Unless you believe in a “spray and pray” approach, it’s wise to customize your content to the position at hand. If your cover letter is all about you, your email is disconnected from the position. You need to write your cover letter so that you pick out the three or four most-desired skills for the role and show how you have the talents to do the job. But don’t just praise yourself! Review your cover letter and count the number of adjectives – words like “enthusiastic,” “determined” and “customer-focused.” Ask yourself, do broad general adjectives really inspire employers? In this era of news and fake news, you can say anything (and tweet it too) but overdosing on adjectives is a bad strategy. Makes you look out-of-touch and needy. Look to verbs instead. Show the action you took, and the outcomes you created. There’s never been a better time to support your actions with numbers, size and scope. Where in your résumé do you use numbers to reflect your impact in prior positions? For example, being customer-focused in the restaurant industry is great. And commonplace! But driving a team of 14 servers to serve an average of 300 plates per night sounds like you are a manager who knows how business gets done. Adjectives sound like hype – they don’t create an authentic distinction. Speak in numbers and outcomes, if you want to stand out in the job interview process.
- Claude Rains Syndrome: Are you invisible to the hiring organization? (Claude Rains reigns supreme as the original invisible man – the 1933 classic that’s getting a reboot starring Elisabeth Moss from Handmaid’s Tale). There are some things you can do to elevate your visibility in the job search process. Don’t just stop with online submissions and social proof. Who do you know at the company that can tell you something about the culture? Who is the hiring manager for the position? Can you at least connect with one person in the company, on LinkedIn or in person, and ask for some intel? I know if I go old-school and say, “Pick up the phone and call someone” you might say, “Ok, Boomer.” But there’s still no substitute for a live conversation, if you’re so inclined. Wouldn’t it be crazy if the person who did get the job was the one who wasn’t afraid to make a phone call, and get some inside info before the big interview?
Being the candidate of choice means demonstrating a knowledge of the industry. Notice that I said knowledge, not experience – because it is possible to transition into a new market sector. In my career, I transitioned from working as a professional stuntman into a Fortune 100 company (true story). I also moved from cosmetics into technology, and I’ve helped my clients to create similar changes. The key to personal transformation is to understand the nature of the work and the nature of the industry. Demonstrate that understanding in your online profile, and make sure there are no photo ghosts haunting your career aspirations. Communicate your impact in numbers, and tailor your correspondence to the position at hand. Managing your personal brand is the first step in gaining your next role. So don’t be afraid to get some visibility IRL as well as online.