Remember those “dot to dot” coloring book pages when you were a kid? The page was covered with numbered dots…1,2,3… that you had to connect in order to uncover a hidden picture? The dots were clearly numbered and it was obvious how to follow them…8,9,10… and make connections in order to reach the end goal. I remember how much fun it was to see the picture emerging as I continued… 21,22,23… And if I did the picture together with a friend… 31,32,33…it was like a competition to see who would be first to figure out what the picture was. We would eagerly complete the connections so we could enjoy the next step–coloring it all in.
Successful job search is kind of like those “dot to dots”…53,54,55… It is all about connecting the dots for others. It starts with a targeted résumé that helps the recruiter or employer to see or “connect” that your talent is a close match with their needs. During the interview, it’s about connecting personally with the interviewer and gearing your responses to the connections–discussing how you can add value to their organization…71,72,73… We all know how important networking is, right? We need to connect with others and establish strong relationships. We can help our network connect with us and increase the odds that they think of us for various projects and opportunities.
Sometimes we assume others are on the same page as us. Perhaps we think our talent should be obvious from brief background information…89,90,91… But employers who are interviewing many candidates for a position can use a little assistance! Help them connect the dots. Help them to see the picture emerge as the interview progresses. Steer them to the connections they may need to influence them…98,99,100… Then get those job offers coming and enjoy coloring it all in!
[*This column was inspired from a recent tweet by Miriam Salpeter of Keppie Careers. You can follow her http://twitter.com@Keppie_Careers]
Today I have laryngitis – I seem predisposed to this side effect whenever I get a cold. My voice wavers in its ability to communicate through the day. In the morning, I squeak a lot but can be heard if I strain; as you can imagine, due to this exertion, I can barely be heard by the end of the day. By evening, I have had it – cough, cough, squeak, squeak. In order to really get my voice back, I need to do the right things – proven strategies for improvement like resting my voice, drinking liquids & hot tea/honey, upping vitamin C, getting more sleep, etc. Even though it is frustrating to take these steps back to go forward, I know that straining does not work. Investing in time and effort will yield me a voice.
Sometimes when I evaluate a résumé, it seems to have no voice. There is a lot of information, but nothing jumps out…….lots of “sound” but the résumé is straining to communicate…..and failing to convey the message or get any results.
If you are not getting results, take a close look at your résumé. Does it showcase your value? Is it high impact? Engaging? Competitive? Powerful? If not, maybe it is time to take a step back and question your strategies. If you want to be heard, you need to invest the time and effort to be sure that your résumé has a voice in the market.
DELETE-DELETE-DELETE. We are all overwhelmed these days with too much information– emails, text messages, Facebook posts, tweets, linkedin messages, blogs, and more. Typically, in about 2 or 3 seconds, we rapidly skim these items to see if we are going to pay attention to them or delete them. So how do you get a recruiter to pay attention to YOUR cover letter…the one that enlightens them with all of the wonderful reasons why you are the best person for the job?
You might wonder if you should even send a cover letter at all? Yes! Well, sort of. But…not too much. Confused? The real question is, “should you send an e-Note or a Cover Letter?” Sending a resume alone is not enough. Providing a cover note fosters an opportunity to influence the recruiter and distinguish yourself from others (many of whom do NOT send one). Traditional cover letters are about a half to three quarters of a page in length and go into detail about your background, your value, and how you can contribute to the company. The newer “e-Note” is a more concise version of that same letter, and can be a short paragraph or up to about a third of a page of information. It is not sent as a separate attachment. It is written in the body of an email with your resume attached. Or, in the case of job boards, it may be a few a few powerful sentences created in their designated “box.”
In a recent E-Summit training webcast delivered by “Career Gurus,” Wendy Enelow and Louise Kursmark (via www.resumewritingacademy.com and www.careerthoughtleaders.com ), some crucial tips were provided on creating a powerful e-Note that gets noticed:
- Keep it brief
- Be sure to grab the reader’s attention with most important / relevant accomplishments
- Use the subject line of your email to convey expertise
- Add contact information to an auto generated “signature block”
- Be sure to convey why you fit the position
Follow these wise tips from Wendy and Louise and you will surely get noticed!
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You can move forward more rapidly in your job search by utilizing every opportunity to send a letter, email, or voicemail message to a potential employer and to your networking leads (…without being a stalker of course!). Think about it – you meet with someone, and later drop a quick email saying “Nice meeting you for coffee today – I appreciated your suggestions about my job search.” It would take you about 10 seconds to write this and click send, right? What do you think the reaction will be from the recipient? He will have a nice surprise note in their email that is short and appreciative of their time. He feels good about the note and good about you!
This thank you effort can be a key influencing factor following a job interview. Sending a note (via snail mail or email) is an opportunity to show your initiative, to emphasize a critical point about your background, to mention one more thing about your strengths which may not have come up during the interview. The employer who received your note is impressed with your timely note and comments. Surprisingly, only a small percentage of candidates send a thank you letter after an interview. So, this makes your note stand out even more so!
How can you look polished with regard to post job interview notes? Be sure to ask for a business card so you have the spelling of their name, and correct email or snail mail address. The letter should be brief and if handwritten – legible. Start by thanking them for the opportunity to interview and convey your excitement about the position. Then mention one or two key points – perhaps something in particular about the job that you were enthusiastic about, or emphasizing how you feel you could make a contribution to the team. Close with a simple statement indicating that you enjoyed the meeting and hope to hear back soon. Be sure to include your email address and phone number. Just think – this small effort could be the key to getting an offer!