The story of applying to over 300 jobs with a cover letter and resume only to hear back from zero employers is not uncommon. Today, applying with only a resume and cover letter won’t get you far unless you have outstanding credentials or are the perfect fit.
In this article, we explain how you can set yourself apart from other applicants by going beyond the average application.
Social media and online presence
A human resource manager can often find a lot of information on us by simply searching our name on Google. If you search your name right now, what do you see? Possibly your social media accounts? To ensure whichever hiring manager searches for us gets a great impression, we need to curate our online presence.
Building strong and professional social media accounts can grab a recruiter’s attention. LinkedIn and Twitter can show what you’re about beyond your resume. One survey found that 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process! So, it’s worth the effort to build a complete profile.
For other social media channels such as Facebook or Instagram, you should focus more on tightening controls and privating photos and posts from public view. Even if you don’t have anything inappropriate on these networks, it may be better safe than sorry. Using an alias on Facebook is also a popular choice to remain hidden from a recruiter’s view.
Networking & cold emails
One reason why your application package isn’t attracting attention maybe that 70-80% of jobs aren’t published online. Although websites such as Indeed.ca or Monster.com are great ways for employers to find qualified individuals, recruiters may end up bombarded with thousands of resumes. To avoid this, they use their own and their employee’s networks to find the right candidate.
It may be easy to be part of these networks if a family member runs a Fortune 500 company. But how can you reach these underground jobs otherwise? It often comes to networking and reaching out with a cold email to find these opportunities.
This process can work in many ways, such as emailing a recruiter or human resource manager about any opportunities at their firm. Another is to reach out to individuals in your ideal career to grab a coffee or hop on a web call. During this meeting, you can learn more about the role and inquire whether there are any opportunities at the business. This meeting is also an opportunity for the person to get to know you. If they like you, they’ll likely also tell the company’s hiring manager.
Portfolio of past work
Your resume and cover letter can almost say anything you want. Creative individuals may rephrase their fast food job as a “restaurant logistical coordinator”! But it’s hard for you to lie about your past work. A writer may have a list of published articles, a marketer may have examples of past campaigns, and a software engineer may show their previous apps. You can leverage past projects to create a portfolio to show potential employers what you can produce.
If you’re not applying for a role where you can easily put past work into a portfolio, such as an accountant, you could create one with assets such as letters of recommendation or case studies of past projects. A case study could describe what a past project looked like, the issues you faced, and how you and your team solved said issues. This overall add to your credibility in the field.
Most applicants apply with a standard resume in PDF or Word form. But what about a video? Although this isn’t for any or every role, it can help you stand out from the crowd. A video lets you better describe your experiences and show more of your personality. To the recruiter, you’ll become more than just a name and work history.
There are no restrictions or guidelines to creating a video resume. Often, it’s just a recording of yourself explaining your interest in the role and business and your qualifications. You could even present some of your portfolio in this video. But make sure to keep it short and to the point!
To get your foot in the door, you’ll need more than a resume and cover letter. Curating an online presence, networking, developing a portfolio, and leveraging a video resume can hopefully get you noticed for your next application.