Tips for Maximizing Job Application Success
By Rose Curtis | June 2006
Most hiring managers are overworked and understaffed. In a highly competitive field such as IT, some companies receive hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes for a given position. Compound this with the fact that hiring managers spend about 10 seconds reviewing a resume, and you begin to understand how important it is for you to successfully navigate the job application process.
Follow these tips for maximizing your job application success:
Apply Through the Right Channel
Depending upon the size of the company, resumes are as commonly received by email as on company Web sites. Furthermore, many major employers now rely upon applicant tracking systems to receive and store emailed resumes. These systems scan electronic, faxed, and mailed resumes for keywords that are relevant to a specific job description within the company. When the keywords of the job description match those buzzwords found in a resume, the system indicates which candidates are matches for the opening.
To maximize your job application success, follow the directions set forth in the job advertisement. If the advertisement includes a request that you use the company’s application form instead of email, honor the company’s directive. Otherwise, your resume may never make it to the hiring managerÂ¿s desk.
A resume written in ASCII, which stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange, does not contain formatting, such as bullets, curly apostrophes, and other symbols, which can cause errors in the readability of the resume text. These problems in readability occur when you paste a formatted resume into a company’s job application.
To make sure you do not create readability problems when you paste your resume into an online job application form, save your resume as an ASCII document. Although its plain text doesn’t allow for an aesthetically pleasing document, an ASCII resume can be read on all platforms, making it the most practical format available. To create an ASCII resume, save your resume as Plain Text or Text Only with Line Breaks. Close the resume, then open the new version you just saved. Clean up any question marks or other symbols that have been substituted for your old formatting by doing a Find and Replace search, replacing any foreign symbols with asterisks.
Make sure each line of your resume does not exceed 65 characters. To determine the character length of a line, highlight a line and choose Tools, then Word Count. Use hard returns at the end of each line to keep your sentences within this character limit.
Be sure to email the ASCII resume first to yourself to make sure that no line wraps and that the resume is readable.
Personalizing Your Correspondence
Your ability to successfully market yourself as an IT professional begins when a hiring manager reads your cover letter. Although there is no magic formula for what makes a winning cover letter for every employer, there are guidelines that you should follow to maximize your chances for success. One of these guidelines is calling the prospective employer to identify, if possible, the name of the hiring manager or HR professional who will be receiving your job application.
To find the name of the hiring manager, call or email the company and ask who is in charge of hiring for the department. You can also do a search on the Internet (for example, Â¿XYZ CompanyÂ¿ + Â¿HR managerÂ¿) which might yield the name of the person you are trying to reach. One good tip to know is that receptionists and secretaries can often steer you in the right direction for who is in charge of job applications or certain jobs in key departments.
By personalizing your correspondence, you send a clear message to the hiring manager that you are very interested in the position, which will in turn, will help maximize your job application success.
One of the biggest mistakes that IT professionals make is not following up with a hiring manager after submitting a resume. Many experts agree that there is a direct correlation between frequent follow-up and job search success. Given the fierce competition, a hiring manager may sort through hundreds of resumes. Emphasize your interest in the position by following up with the hiring manager, either by phone, fax, or e-mail.
If a job advertisement specifically states that phone calls are not allowed, you should honor their request and instead send an email or fax. Be proactive and wait a few days after you submit your resume before sending a professional letter. Be persistentÂ¿this is one of the traits that will set you apart from your competition.
In your follow-up letter, be sure to reference the position you applied for, the date you submitted your resume, and the top reasons why you are the ideal candidate for the job. Take this opportunity to reiterate your interest in the position, and include your contact information.
By following these guidelines, you will maximize your job application success and optimize your chances for making sure a hiring manager reads your resume and considers you for the greatest professional opportunities available.
Rose Curtis is a freelance writer living in New York City.