It's not that recruiters, hiring managers, and members of your professional network aren't capable of thinking and remembering. Of course they are! But, smart and successful job seekers focus on positioning themselves to be easy to hire!
Successful job seekers don't make recruiters work hard to hire them.
Don't send a generic resume and expect a recruiter or employer to look at it and figure out what you can do and where you could fit into their organization.
Most employers or recruiters are too busy to provide you with career coaching and/or mind-reading services, so be as clear as you can about what you want. [To learn more about how recruiters work, read Working with Recruiters written by recruiter Jeff Lipschultz.]
Networking contacts, no matter how well-intentioned, won't be able to help you without knowing what you want to do. They can't read your mind any better than an employer or recruiter. Make it easy for people to help you by telling them the job that you want.
Apply specifically for a job you know they have open or suspect that they will have open in the future.
When you are submitting your resume for a job, don't make the person reading your resume wonder why you applied for their job. Tell them and show them why you applied. You do that 3 ways:
The key to success here is to clearly connect the dots between their requirements and your skills and accomplishments. This enables employers to see that you meet their requirements.
Duh! Who doesn't follow directions? You'd be amazed! Job seekers in a rush, apparently...
Recently, a recruiter put a sentence in a Monster job posting asking applicants to include a one-paragraph description of their most significant accomplishment of the past year.
- Only four out of twenty applicants included an accomplishment, as requested.
- Only one of those four linked that accomplishment to the job they were seeking.
So, only one out of every twenty applicants got through the initial screening. By actually reading the entire posting, following the directions, and aligning their response to the needs of the job, they beat ninety-five percent of their competition!
When you do follow the directions, whether it's the preferred format for your resume, what to include in your application, or when and how to contact them, you are demonstrating that you pay attention. That's a characteristic most employers want.
Stay in touch, in context.
Follow up your resume and cover letter with a phone call, but don't expect them to know you.
Give them the context. Tell them your name, the job you want (and its requisition number or any other administrative identifier it might have, if you know it), and when you applied for it.
Follow with a "soft" sales pitch, giving a summary of your qualifications for the job and emphasizing your interest in it. Then, politely ask what is happening with the job you are seeking (what progress is being made, when are people going to be called in to interview, when the decision is going to be made, etc.)
After you've discovered the status, ask them if you can call back in a week (or 2 weeks or the end of the week - whatever seems appropriate after you've learned the status of their applicant search). Most times, if you are in any way qualified, they will tell you it's OK to stay in touch.
However, if they tell you not to bother, then move on to another opportunity, if you have one. If it's a job you really want, but they've told you not to bother staying in touch, you might try one more contact to see if you just caught someone at a bad time or in a bad mood. If you receive 2 "go away" messages, pay attention, and move on.
When you have permission to stay in touch, DO stay in touch. Politely. When you said that you would, or when they told you you could.
Follow up. Find out what's happening with the job you want -- ask them for other similar opportunities if this one falls through.
Keep things in context -- don't expect them to remember you, although by the 3rd or 4th phone call to the same person, they probably will.
It always seems to take too long to land a job, but it will happen. Just keep trying and keep your spirits up. If you have a good network, you many not need to go through the job application and resume submission process. But that's a different article ("Tapping the Hidden Job Market"). Good luck!
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn.