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6 Ways to Keep Your Resume out of the Trash

by Guest Author Rich DeMatteo

Does your résumé appear to be lost in the black hole of job applications? Has it been weeks or months since you've heard back from any employer? If yes, then don't get too frustrated, because you're definitely not alone.

Most job seekers will tell you that gaining a response from employers is their biggest frustration in the hiring process. It's not uncommon to go months without a single email back, let alone a phone screen. When this happens, it's important to look at your own personal process for applying and what you're doing to help or hurt yourself.

Here are 6 ways to keep your résumé out of the trash:

1. Try to Make a Connection Before Applying: Is it possible that you already have a friend who works at the company? Could you maybe connect with someone on LinkedIn that works there? If so, these are great places to start. Your résumé and application is far more likely to be read if you have a connection at the company.

2. Apply to the Right Positions: Are you positive that the open position is a match for your skill set? One of the hardest questions you must ask yourself is if you're truly a fit. If your skills just don't match, then it's going to be tough to receive contact from the employer.

3. Call Once After Applying: The key here is just calling once. If you know which department is receiving your résumé then that's who you need to try to reach. It's almost always Human Resources, so start there. If you're lucky enough to actually talk to someone on the phone you'll need to be brief. Be prepared for a canned response or to be pushed off of the phone quickly. That's OK! You'll be in their head and they'll absolutely remember you when seeing your résumé. If you must leave a voicemail then you should keep it to 15-20 seconds. Mention the position you applied for, your name, and when you sent in your résumé.

4. Don't Follow Up Every Week: I generally suggest following up every 5-7 business days. Definitely not once a week and absolutely not on the same day of the week. A well-timed follow up email will remind them of your name when they're ready to start digging through applications again. Remember, it's not uncommon for companies to put a pause on the hiring process and then come back to it weeks or months later.

5. Include a Well-Written Cover Letter: I always suggest that your cover letter is kept to 3 paragraphs. The first paragraph should be 2-4 sentences about how you found their open position and why you'd want to work for that company. The second paragraph should be all about your experience that's directly related to the opening. You can make this paragraph a little longer. The third paragraph should thank them for reading and provide instructions on how they can contact you. This should be your shortest paragraph.

6. Use a Professional Email Address: You'd think this is common sense, but so many people apparently don't realize how important this is. Your email address should really only include your name and possibly some numbers. This should go without saying, but avoid drug or graphic references in your email address. That's pretty much the quickest ticket to the trash can ever!

Just keep in mind that all of the above mean nothing if you don't have a well-written résumé. Make sure to fix that up first if you're having trouble gaining responses from employers.

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