Landing an Interview

If you could only get an interview, you’re positive you could sell yourself and emerge with a job offer. Here’s the problem: Even if you have sterling credentials, they have to stand up to perhaps hundreds of other applicants with similarly wonderful backgrounds in order to land you a coveted interview. But there are a few things you can do to sway the odds in your favor. 

The Resume
The days of one-size-fits-all resumes are gone. In a competitive job market, it’s essential that you customize every resume you send to a specific job. It’s easier than it sounds. Start by creating a standard resume, and then tweak it for individual postings by playing up certain experiences or skill sets and eliminating things that don’t really pertain. Pay attention to details such as:
• Key words. Most large companies and a growing number of small to medium-sized companies use scanners that check for key words in a candidate’s resume. You can find these words and phrases within the job posting, so hunt for jargon and technical terms and then repeat them on your resume in a way that also makes sense to human readers.
• Prerequisites. In addition to key words, job postings list skills and knowledge you must have to be considered for the job. Make sure your resume addresses every one of those requirements.
• Addressee. “Dear sir or madam” isn’t good enough on a cover letter, and “HR Department” doesn’t cut it on an envelope. If the job posting doesn’t list a specific person to whom you should send your resume, call the company and find out. Don’t forget to ask for the correct spelling!

The Phone Call
Pushy? Maybe. But done correctly, making a follow-up phone call can set you apart from the pack and make a positive impression on the hiring manager. Make sure you give your resume enough time to make it into the right person’s hands: five business days if mailed and two business days if emailed. Then, place the call:
• Make the correct connection. You may have to call all over the company before you end up speaking with the right hiring manager, but it doesn’t do you any good to check in with the IT manager when you really need to talk to the marketing manager.
• Introduce yourself. Lots of people skip over an introduction in their rush to get to the point. Reference your resume and the job for which you’re applying. Rarely do departments just have one job they’re trying to fill.
• Get specific. Here comes the pushy part: Ask straight out for an interview. Let them know you’re available at their convenience, and they may just go for it.

The Extra Mile
If the follow-up phone call isn’t getting you anywhere, take it to another level. Ask if you can buy them coffee or, even better, a meal to discuss your qualifications and how you can benefit the company. The key is to promise you’ll only take up 15 minutes of their time, and then stick to it!