2016 Distinguish Yourself in Your Job Search

In the current job market, companies rely on a variety of systems to manage the high volume of applicants that come to them online.  The systems help them feed their applicant tracking systems and they can pull applications based on key words.  With hundreds of resumes submitted for many jobs, the odds of the applicant’s resume coming to the attention of the hiring manager  are very slim.  What is a talented, well-qualified applicant to do?


  • The single most important thing any job seeker can do is network.
  • Identify your target companies and industries.  Identify friends, family members, former colleagues, alumni etc. at those organizations and request an informational interview.
  • Do not ask the contact for a job.  Take the opportunity to learn as much as you can about the company, the culture, the hiring process, the department that interests you, etc.
  • Build a network of connections in the companies you are most interested in pursuing for employment

Leverage Your Network

  • When a position does appear online, reach out to your networking contact at that company.  Let them know you applied online and ask them if they would forward your resume and cover letter to the hiring manager.
  • It is critical that you also apply online so you are officially in the system.  Many companies don’t allow managers to talk to candidates who are not in the system.
  • Busy managers are much more likely to review resumes forwarded by a trusted colleague rather than dig through the mountain of online applications.
  • Keep your contact posted on your progress through the system and be sure to say thank you.

Other Helpful Hints

  • While nothing trumps the value of networking, you can also maximize your success through the systems by focusing on key words.  Be sure your resume and cover letter use key words from the job posting.  Systems will search based on key words.  Try to have as many key words early in your resume such as the summary and core competencies sections to increase your visibility with the system.
  • Also be sure there is no formatting such as underlining that will cause the system to reject your resume.  The companies never tell you that your resume fails to make it into their system.  Keep the formatting very basic to ensure that it is accepted.  You can have a different format for when you share it in person.

Bottom line:

  • It is still people who make the hiring decisions not the systems.  You need to use your network to get your resume into the hands of the hiring manager.  Don’t sit back and expect the system to do the work for you.



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