"I've submitted my résumé online many times and still get nowhere. What am I doing wrong, and what do I have to do to get noticed?"
Does this complaint sound familiar?
If so, look at the process from the other side to figure out how to make yourself into a more attractive candidate.
"When we see the right candidate, we know it," says Kara Benedetto, vice president of human resources North America at Linedata, a financial services software vendor. She relates several steps about her company's hiring process:
1. Determine needs with managers, as well as the finances available for compensation. It seems obvious when you think about it, but it is important to be cognizant that hiring is about filling the need of a company for such-and-such work to get done, within a budget.
Tip: Remember that every communication you have with employers must demonstrate how you will fill their needs before they will even begin to focus on what they can do for you.
2. Publish the position on the company website, LinkedIn and specialty job boards. "We used to use Monster but didn't renew," Benedetto says. "LinkedIn is much more successful [as a source for candidates]." For example, she uses Uloop.com to post to all colleges for a single fee, or Dice.com for technical roles.
Tip: If you think the traditional mega-job boards are where the jobs are, you're overlooking key opportunities posted elsewhere. Get with the program, get a well-optimized LinkedIn profile and use the social networking site to find specific jobs.
3. Favor employee referrals over recruiters. "Without question, employee referrals are the cheapest, most effective way to get our best new employees," she explains. "Our current employees know the company, the culture and who they would value working next to." It is far less expensive to reward a current employee for a great referral than it is to pay the high fees recruiters can demand.
Nonetheless, Benedetto admits to using multiple competing contingency recruiters for the same position when it's a difficult one to fill.
Tip: Use LinkedIn and any other possible means at your disposal to network your way into companies for which you want to work. When you are working with multiple recruiters, make certain that they each know where else your résumé has gone so that you don't wind up being submitted to the same role multiple times.
4. Scan every r ésumé . Yes, you read that correctly. Despite the common perception that résumés go into a black hole and are never read, Benedetto says she examines them in the order they were submitted. She seeks out well-written documents with no grammatical or typographical errors and a good overall look. Beyond that, she looks for:
-- A demonstration of initiative. Even when looking at a college student for an entry-level role, Benedetto says: "there is always something you can be doing -- even volunteering to show that you go above and beyond what is minimally expected of you."
-- A clear work history timeline, with role progression and without unexplained employment gaps. It says something negative if you are in the same position for a very long time, or if you are a person who jumps jobs every year or two. Benedetto says her sweet spot is someone who stays in a job for three to five years.
-- A résumé that reflects your role. She acknowledges that as much as HR might not like it, some tech résumés span four or even five pages, and hiring managers love to see all that detail. By contrast, a résumé for a salesperson should never be more than two pages, and must contain hard numbers.
-- Competencies. Objective statements are out, while skills sections are in.
Tip: Make certain to present a well-crafted document. There are numerous articles online about effective résumé writing, and a whole industry of professional résumé writers who can give your presentation a boost.
5. Focus on the behavior of candidates. "I can't tell you how many people don't shake hands, or do so too lightly," Benedetto says. And then, there are those who don't show up to an interview on time, appear disheveled or just babble on without getting to the point. Benedetto reports that she always checks with the person who first greets a candidate when he or she came to the office, to see how the candidate came across and what he or she did while waiting to be seen.
Tip: Remember that absolutely everything you do from the moment you walk in the door until the time you leave counts as part of the interview. There are no unimportant people, and there is never an excuse not to be courteous and polite.
When you figure out what people are looking for, you can best be able to give it to them. Take this advice and your chances of succeeding will climb.
Editor's Note: This piece is second in a two-part series on innovative human resources staffing practices.
Arnie Fertig is the head coach of JOBHUNTERCOACH.COM, where he utilizes his extensive background in HR Staffing and as owner of a recruiting company to help midcareer job-hunters land their next job. Arnie provides one-to-one coaching services to individuals throughout the U.S. in all aspects of the job hunt, including: resume writing, personal branding, utilizing social media, enhancing networking skills, preparing for interviews, and negotiating compensation.
More From US News & World Report