Top Ten Job Search Success Tips
True Tales and Tips from a Real Recruiter
by Abby Kohut
Focus on Keywords
When creating your resume, think about how recruiters will discover it. Which keywords
would you use to search for someone with your background?
Many recruiters use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to gather and evaluate resumes.
They also use social media, LinkedIn, job boards, and Google to search for candidates. In
all of these cases, keywords are extremely important. The more keywords you match, the
higher up on the results page you appear, and the more likely that a recruiter will click to
learn more about you.
For example, a tactful approach with the keyword “Microsoft Excel” would be to sprinkle it
around your resume in different sections such as:
a) “Superuser of Microsoft Excel” in the skills section
b) “Used Microsoft Excel to create charts and graphs” listed as a responsibility for one job
c) “Developed a database using Microsoft Excel” as a responsibility for a second job
To determine the right keywords to use, try pasting job descriptions into a word cloud site
(e.g., wordle.net). Then, if you have those skills and qualiﬁcations, thoughtfully add them to
your resume and your LinkedIn proﬁle in your summary, skills, and job descriptions.
Practically every company will do a background check before hiring, so be honest about
salary, titles, degree completion, dates of employment, and reasons for leaving. Also, make
sure the titles and dates on all versions of your resume are consistent with each other and
your LinkedIn proﬁle.
I once met a candidate whose LinkedIn proﬁle said that she was Director of Finance and
Technology, while her resume listed her as Director of Finance. When questioned, she
explained she was handling both roles, though she didn’t have the ofﬁcial title. After much
deliberation about her integrity, we ultimately hired her, but we easily could have made a
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If your title doesn’t ﬁt your actual role, you can add more details in parentheses, e.g.,
“Director of Finance (also handling Technology).” In addition to being truthful, you’ll be
including both the Finance and the Technology keywords in your title.
Differentiate Yourself in Your Cover Letter
Contrary to popular belief, most recruiters actually read cover letters – and they can really
help or hurt your chances.
The typical cover letter has a generic salutation, followed by your life story. While I may be
able to evaluate your writing skills, what I really want to know is: Why do you want to work for
my company? Why did you choose us over all the other companies in our industry? A cover
letter is the perfect place to explain why you truly want the job.
The most memorable cover letter I received was from a Purchasing Agent who started off
with “Money, money, money. All I think about is how to save money”, and then went on to
describe how saving money is part of her personality both at work and at home. We ended
up hiring her because we believed she would not only thrive in the job, but actually enjoy it.
Network Your Way Into a New Job
Every time you apply for a job, check LinkedIn to ﬁnd the hiring manager and see whether
you share any connections. If so, ask your connection to pass on your resume with a brief
recommendation, either by email or in person.
The larger your network, the more chance you’ll have a second-degree connection to the
hiring manager. To grow your network quickly, ﬁrst invite the people you already know to
connect. Also, try attending job search networking events, and then invite the people you
met to connect on LinkedIn.
A side beneﬁt of going to these events is that you can meet recruiters searching for talent.
Once, I scheduled an IT technician for an interview at a networking event (and later hired
him), because he mentioned customer service was his top priority, and that was a quality
our company was looking for in an IT professional.
Call To Follow Up
Once you know a hiring manager has your resume, follow up. First, do some research on the
company and its challenges, and then illustrate how you can help solve them.
Before you call, send an InMail to tell the hiring manager exactly when you’ll be calling. Also
mention who referred you and why you believe you can solve the company’s challenge.
When the Hiring Manager picks up the phone, begin with something like, "John forwarded
you a copy of my resume and I’m following up as I promised. I have ABC experience and am
interested in discussing how I can solve your XYZ challenge. Do you have a few minutes to
explore this now?" If they agree, consider yourself on a phone interview. Role-play this
conversation with a friend until you can say it with conﬁdence.
Demonstrate Your Passion
Regardless of qualiﬁcations, hiring managers and recruiters want to hire someone who
shows interest and excitement for the position and company.
Before your interview (even a phone screen), list out why you’re excited about this particular
job, this speciﬁc company and industry. This will guide you through the interview and make
you stand out, even if other candidates are more qualiﬁed.
The only caveat when demonstrating passion is to avoid sending the message that this is
your only opportunity, which can imply desperation. Subtly reinforce that you’re considering
different opportunities by saying things like, "I've explored a variety of options with other
employers, but sofar, this one seems to have all the components of what I’m looking for.”
Write Effective Thank You Notes
Don’t forget to write a thank you note to stay top of mind with the hiring manager. This is
your chance to remind them about how your background ﬁts the open position and provide
more examples of your qualiﬁcations and experience.
Keep your thank you note short and sweet. It’s okay to use the same opening and closing for
each person who interviewed you, but make sure you personalize the body with details from
your conversations with the speciﬁc interviewers.
You can send your thank you note by email, InMail, snail mail, or the Pony Express--just make
sure you send one. It may just be the ﬁnal thing that will convince your interviewer you’re
the best ﬁt.
Be Patient Yet Persistent
Once you’ve interviewed and sent a thank you note, rest assured you’ve done your best and
move on to uncovering other terriﬁc opportunities. Set a goal for how many jobs you want to
apply for each week, but be sure that you’re only applying for roles that you’re at least 75%
qualiﬁed for and 100% passionate about.
Meanwhile, a little bit of cheerful persistence can go a long way. Feel free to use InMail,
email, or a phone call to contact recruiters directly and ask if you’re still being considered.
Calling or emailing once every few weeks is acceptable, but calling ﬁve times a day is not.
Recruiters are unlikely to call back unless they have something speciﬁc to tell you, so don’t
be concerned if you don’t hear back.
Prepare Your References
Right before a company decides to hire you, a recruiter will typically request to check your
references. Typically, we’re interested in speaking with two of your recent managers.
Reach out to each reference to explain the details of the position and ask them to return our
calls promptly. Also, make sure you’ve given us the right phone number!
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