It's not that recruiters aren't capable of thinking and remembering. Of course they are! But, smart and successful job seekers focus on being easy to work with which makes them easy to hire!
You Must Tell Them What You Want to Do -- What Job You Want
Don't expect a recruiter or employer to look at your resume and figure out what you can do and where you could fit into their organization. Most employers and recruiters have way too much to do to provide you with career coaching and/or mind-reading services.
Networking contacts, no matter how well-intentioned, won't be able to connect you with a job 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 helping them know what you want.
If you don't know what you want to do, spend some time figuring it out first. Buy or borrow a copy of the classic book, What Color Is Your Parachute -- if there's only one "career book" in your library, this is the one.
Clearly Align Your Experience With Their Requirements
When you are submitting your resume or application for a job, don't make the person reading it wonder why you applied for their job. Tell them why. You do that two ways:
1) Only apply for jobs for which you are a good fit.
Look at the job's requirements and the skills, experience, and education they they want in an applicant. Don't waste your time, or the recruiter's, applying for something that's not a good match.
When you apply for a job that's not a good match --
You're thinking: "Why not give it a try, just in case?"
They're thinking: "Can't this idiot read?"
Apply poorly often enough with the same recruiter or employer, and you'll be training them (and -- maybe - their applicant tracking system) to ignore you.
2) Tell them how you are a good match in the cover letter, and show them in the resume.
In the cover letter, list the job's requirements and match those requirements specifically with the skills or experience you have that are appropriate. (See the "Catching the Recruiter's Eye" article on Job-Hunt for a great cover letter format).
Yes, many cover letters are ignored, but, for some recruiters, a resume submitted without a cover letter demonstrates a lack of true interest in the opportunity and/or a lack of professionalism. So, on the better-to-be-safe-than-sorry theory, include a carefully-written cover letter.
Customize your resume so that the relevant skills and experience are highlighted. Leave out the things that aren't relevant to this job, unless your resume is only one page long. If you haven't had much response to your resume, have a friend look at it, or get professional help. (For help with your resume, read Job-Hunt's Guide to Effective Resumes by resume experts Martin Yate and Susan Ireland).
Follow the Directions
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 20 percent of the applicants included an accomplishment, and only 25 percent of those described an accomplishment that was relevant to the job they were seeking.
So, only one out of every 20 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 jumped over 95 percent of their competition!
Polite Persistence Is Powerful.
After you have had a job interview, ask for permission to stay in touch, and for the name and contact information of the person you should be in touch with. Then, 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. But NOT daily! And, for many employers, not weekly either. Find out what's happening with the job you want. Remember filling a job almost always takes longer, sometimes much longer, than the employer thinks it will. (Read 10 Reasons They Haven't Called You for why.)
Keep things in context -- tell them your name, the job you applied for (job title and requisition number, preferably), the dates of your job interviews, and who interviewed you in every contact. Don't expect them to remember you, although by the third or fourth phone call or email with the same person, they may.
If you liked the people and the place, ask them for other similar opportunities if this one falls through. (Read "The First Thing You Should Do After a Job Rejection" for how and why.)
It always seems to take too long to land a job, but it will happen. If you have a good network and LinkedIn Profile, you many not need to go through the job application and resume submission process again -- your next job may find you.
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Susan P. Joyce is president of NETability, Inc. and the editor and chief technology writer for Job-Hunt.org and WorkCoachCafe.com. This article was first published on Job-Hunt.org.