How to Get an Interview
If you want to get the great job, you’ve got to get an interview.
If you want to get an interview, you have to make sure your resume gets seen.
So what’s the trick to making sure your resume gets seen?
I come from the world of hiring…
My company, ApplicantPro, has over 9,000 clients that use our platform for posting jobs, generating applicants, and managing the process of hiring the right people to fill their open positions.
In other words: we help people and businesses get rid of their “Help Wanted” signs.
When an employer is trying to fill a position, they want to get the top talent they can. Often, they will post their open positions to job boards like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Monster, or on sites like LinkedIn.
But guess what happens when you apply through those sources?
Your application typically ends up in a figurative “stack,” and depending on how many people saw the open job posting, you could be in that stack with roughly 200 other applicants.
There is a way around this.
Actually, there are a few ways around this! But to keep it simple, I’m just going to go over two main broad points to give you some actions you can take to make sure your resume will in fact get seen by the right people – the ones who make the hiring decisions.
1. Be an Employee Referral
2. Don’t be a Risk
1. Be an Employee Referral
I cannot stress this enough. Regardless of how you found out about the position, it’s in your best interest to find or make a connection with someone at the company so that you can list their name when you apply. It will dramatically improve your chances of not only getting an interview, but actually getting the job.
How do I know this? Because I see the numbers; I see the statistics on who companies hire.
When I look at the data, it shows us who companies are most likely to hire out of their applicants. I will give you two quick examples on the math/statistics:
For the clients we work with that post job openings on Indeed, for every 50 applicants that apply through Indeed, the company will hire one of those people.
For every applicant that is an employee referral (they listed the name of a current employee at the company that they are acquainted with on their application when they applied), out of every 5-6 people that did this on their application, the company will hire one of those people.
Now the person whose name you list on your application doesn’t have to be a tight connection! You didn’t need to have been in the same sorority back in college. But it does need to be someone who you’ve associated with in some way at some point in time, even if only through an online forum or group. Ideally, this person can vouch to other people at the company that you do in fact have the skill set you claim to and would be a good fit for the company and role.
Using their name on the application implies that you are credible, because they are credible – they already work there!
If you don’t know anyone at the company, here’s how I’d go about making a connection…
(Now depending on how you found out about the position and how soon the window to apply for it will be closing, I understand that you may be limited in being able to develop a connection beyond just an acquaintance. I give this advice anyway, but there is a bonus tip at the end of this blog post that may be more helpful to you.)
Hop on their company page and look up current employees or hop on LinkedIn and look up their employees there. Find the people who are in the department or area of the business you want to work in, and start connecting with them through LinkedIn or industry groups they may be associated with.
Find the groups they are in on LinkedIn and comment on the things they post in those groups. Add value to what they are saying – share similar articles you find on the internet with them in your comments. Also comment and add value to their posts that they do through their profile, not just in groups.
Now as you build these connections on LinkedIn, don’t forget to do some of your own posts about your job role (“your area of expertise”) and industry including your thoughts, ideas, hacks, or insights you’ve found.
As you are building these connections and they start noticing you, you can reach out (direct message them) and say, “Hey, I see that your company is hiring a new project manager. I want to apply; would it be okay with you if I listed your name as a referral on my application?”
This approach works best in the long view of being an employee referral for a job you want at a company you have researched that you know you want to work for in the future.
The reason this works…
When your application shows up at human resources with the name of a stellar current employee, they feel an automatic need to review your application and be willing to interview you. The reason is, HR or the manager doesn’t want to have to tell the employee (whose name you listed as a referral) that they straight up rejected, ignored, or didn't at least give a chance to the person who they referred to the position. And so you're more likely to be given a chance at an interview.
2. Don’t Be a Risk
Now, what I mean by that is, when they look at your resume relative to the job description, how closely do you match what they are asking for?
You don’t have to be a perfect match, but all of the most important criteria need to be there. They need to clearly see that you have the core qualifications they are needing out of the new hire, the person who’s going to do the job next.
So what you want to do is, read through the ad, figure out which of the skills are the most important, focus on matching those. On your resume, be sure and use the same types of wording, terminology, and phrases that are in the job description.
To take it to the next level, find a resume of somebody currently doing the job or a LinkedIn profile (you can go search LinkedIn or Indeed for these; you may need to create an “employer account” to see peoples’ resumes on Indeed).
Ideally, you would find the resume or LinkedIn profile of the person at the company who is currently doing the job, but even if it is a competing company, that will still be helpful.
Look at their resume and compare it to yours.
What skills and experience do they have? What highlights do they have that you don't? What words are they using that you're not? The closer your resume matches this person’s resume, the less of a risk you are to hire. (That doesn't mean you will for sure get the job, but it does mean that they will view you as a top candidate.)
If they listed something on their resume that you forgot to, go and put it on your resume. If they have things on theirs that you don’t have on your resume, consider doing what is needed to learn, engage with, or figure out those extra things so that you can list them too!
Bonus Tip: The Way You go About Applying Makes a Difference
I realize that you are likely reading this blog post for the first time through an email you are being sent with current job ads that me and my team at Refer have just sent to you.
Obviously, we are in the business of job postings, and it is a great thing that you can click a tiny link on an internet page of a job board and apply really easily, BUT, there are certain pros to going onto the company’s actual webpage and applying there instead. If their company offers that as an option, take that route instead. Also, sometimes it’s a good idea to apply in person (more on that in a minute…).
While you are applying, don’t forget to list an employee’s name as a referral, but if you don’t currently know an employee and time is ticking to apply, still apply anyway and start building connections with people at their company through LinkedIn.
Heck, if they are a local place of business, consider if it would be good to just stop by there and introduce yourself to some people! (Here’s an article you might find helpful in judging whether or not you should show up in person or not: Is it Better to Apply for Jobs in Person or Online?)
Most importantly, you need to follow-up and pretty much immediately. Use your judgment in whether reaching out straight to the hiring manager is a good idea for the particular type of role and company you just applied at. If it is, I’d get the email and/or LinkedIn for the hiring manager, and I’d shoot them a direct message sharing with them that you just applied for the position. Tell them why you are interested in it, what value you can bring to the role, and thank them for their consideration.
Also, call their office (and potentially email as well) to make sure that they received your application materials. Feel free to ask about when they will be closing the position (so that you have a benchmark for when to follow-up again about their progress with filling the position).
Using all these tips, you will be well on your way to getting more callbacks and interviews! Questions? Bring them to the Refer Facebook group!
It's not fun to have self-doubt, but if you can push through… it'll be a big opportunity for personal growth and development.