This post is about how to apply and get an interview. We'll write something later about interviewing and then link to it from here, we promise.
- Have a connection.
- Have a good resume.
- Have a connection and a good resume.
Sometimes just one or both of those does the trick. A lot of the time it doesn't.
If you're sure your resume is in good shape, here's what else you can do:
- Stand out in a good way. Be memorable, but not because you're annoying. Be respectful of people's time.
- If you're applying by email, send a well-written, thoughtful, and sincere short note that highlights why you're excited about learning more about the organization/role and how you see your skillset potentially fitting with the role. One paragraph, tops. Show you've learned something about the organization that isn't on the job description. Don't wax poetic about yourself, but show you've thought about how your experience/skills/personality fit with the stated objectives and duties of the role. Show you're excited for the potential fit and can't wait to hopefully have the opportunity to learn more (an interview). Let the company's culture guide your tone.
As Joanie in Mad Men puts it: "The most important thing about an interview is to express enthusiasm in a believable way."
The same goes for all communication in your attempts to get an interview.
- If you're applying online and have the opportunity to include a cover letter/chunk of text that might be read, follow the advice in #5. If you want it can be two paragraphs, but one will probably be equally effective.
- If you're applying online and they formally require a cover letter, follow their specifications for the cover letter and express enthusiasm in a believable way.
- If you're applying via some other medium, go find the contact info for the recruiter/hiring manager/person who might care at the company and follow #5. Thank that person for their time.
- If it's been a week and you've heard nothing, follow up. Tactfully. Express your continued excitement about the role/company; maybe you've even learned something else about the company since applying that has increased your enthusiasm. If you don't have a person to follow up with, see #8.
- It's been another week? Follow up again. Try a different relevant person at the company. Until you get a clear rejection, don't stop. What's the worst that will happen, that you won't get an interview?
- Demonstrate your talents as they might apply to the company (only works for some types of roles of course). Sample copy you might write if you're marketer, an alternate design for the company's site/app/something if you're a designer, diagnose a site/app bug and solve (or at least show them how to reproduce) it if you're on the tech side.
- Impress the right people with just how much you care. The best job application I've ever seen was from a guy who bought a domain name (company-role.com) and built an entire custom website as part of his application. It had multiple pages, was well-designed, and followed #5. It was for an executive assistant role at a tech company. He found the CEO's email and emailed him directly. Did his prior resume experience scream "I'M THE OBVIOUS CHOICE FOR THIS JOB"? No. Did he get the job? Sure did.