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Applying for a job takes time if you are going to do it properly. You can of course hit the apply now button and shoot off the generic resume that is attached to your online job board profile in a matter of seconds. However if you are genuinely interested in applying for a particular job and you really do want to stand out from the crowd and have any serious chance of landing the job, then it takes a lot more time and effort to apply.
So if you are going to go to the time and effort of tailoring your resume and drafting a covering letter specific to the job your are applying for, there is one key thing that I think you must do before you even turn on your computer and start tapping away at your keyboard.
Call and enquire about the job.
This is not a new concept or some whizz bang new technique to help you with your search for work. No doubt you’ve heard the advice before; pick up the phone and enquire about the job. There are contact details on the advert for a reason. But do you know why you should take the time to call and enquire?
The value for you in picking up the phone is:
- It’s an additional opportunity to introduce yourself and highlight your skills and expertise.
- You can get some further insight in to the role, more than what’s detailed in the advert or the position description. With this added info you can strengthen your application.
- It can help you decide if it’s worth investing the time to put together an application; is the job what you are really looking for?
- Executed correctly, the call will leave the recruiter or hiring manager looking out for your application to come through as opposed to just being another application in the stack of resumes to be assessed.
The only catch is that if you are going to do the right thing and pick up the phone you need to do it well. Getting it wrong could end up sending your application to the bottom of the pile but if you get it right you’ll no doubt be on your way to getting to the interview table.
What not to do when picking up the phone:
- Don’t ask stupid questions. I know the mantra that there is no such thing as a stupid question but in this case there are definitely stupid questions. For example, don’t ask when do applications close if the application closing date is stated in the advert. Don’t ask how to apply if the instructions are outlined in the advert on how to apply. Put in some effort and ask some well thought through questions.
- Don’t launch in to your spiel about how good you are and how perfect you are for the job. Think “seek to understand before being understood.” Before you try and demonstrate how you are the perfect candidate for the job, you need to gather the info on what they are really looking for. Once you have this info you can tailor your spiel on your skills and expertise to highlight how they match the needs of the job. Failure to ask the questions first may see you promoting the wrong skills and expertise.
- Be prepared. Before you pick up the phone read and re-read the advert and the position description (if you can already access it). Underline or highlight key areas. Prepare some impressive questions to ask to get the conversation started. Have a pen and paper handy to take notes. Be clear on the information and knowledge you want to convey about your suitability for the job.
You’d be surprised at how few people invest the time and effort in calling to enquire about a job. And because so few people are making the effort you have an even bigger opportunity to make a great impression and stand out from the crowd. If you are sick of hitting the apply now button and getting knock back after knock back maybe it’s time to make the extra effort; pick up the phone and leave the recruiter or hiring manager waiting for you application to come through. I know if I was making the effort to apply for a job I’d be doing everything I could to make sure my application was at the top of the pile.
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Angela Connor is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource and career coaching companies. She understands the significance of having the right team of people in a business and is passionate about helping business to attract, recruit and engage the right people so those people can inject their talents into the business; creating an environment where they can do great work and love what they do. Find more useful information and advice at www.inspirehq.com.au or by following Angela on LinkedIn.