I get a lot of questions every day. From people in all different life stages, job titles and industries. You'd be surprised, however, how many of the questions are similar.
So today I thought we'd go through some of the most common questions that I get asked in my career coaching sessions. Hopefully this is helpful. If you have a question I didn't answer, feel free to email me and we can either set up a time to chat or I'll answer it in my next FAQ post!
Yes and no. My mantra is, "If the job is important, the cover letter is important." That means, if the job is your dream job, or at the very top of your list, you should write a cover letter. But not a boring one. Show your personality, tell a story, explain your value proposition - something to help the hiring manager understand who you are, what you care about and how you can contribute to their organization. This is especially important for career changers. If you're a career changer and you don't write a cover letter, you are missing out on an opportunity to explain why you are changing industries and give context to your resume. Not every job calls for a cover letter. But the important ones do.
What are those computer things that take my resume and how do I make sure my resume gets seen?
Those "computer things" are called applicant tracking systems, or ATS. They are the best and the worst. An ATS is designed to help the recruiters and talent acquisition teams better filter and organize the candidate pool. What this should mean for candidates is a more organized candidate process. But, I also realize it can be very frustrating when you feel like a robot is reading your resume and not a human. THE. WORST.
Also, not every company has the same ATS, so it makes it harder to understand the functionality as a candidate. These software programs store your resume and application materials. And yes, some of them do scan for certain characteristics, job titles or skill sets. There are ways to better "optimize" your resume for a position. But in all honesty, you are never going to know what specific features and skills a recruiting team is going to target for. For instance, I know that some companies look for characteristics that are out-of-the-box like college athletes for sales positions or specifically Ivy Leaguers for investment banking jobs. If you don't have that, there really isn't much to do to get around that.
That's why networking is SO important. That is the ultimate way to get out of the ATS black hole and getting your resume in the hands of an actual human being. Don't be scared of it! (Also, I will be writing another article on this subject that's more comprehensive, so keep a lookout!)
I have a LinkedIn profile but I never use it. What's the best way to use LinkedIn to find a job?
While I am going to ignore the fact that you have it but never use it.....let me just tell you LinkedIn is a GREAT tool. You need to start using in NOW. But, it's not great in the way you probably think. In my opinion, LinkedIn is really useful and quite critical for three things in the job search process: Marketing yourself (profile), Networking (LI messaging) and Researching companies (feed and company profiles). Use LinkedIn to attract recruiters with an optimized profile and robust career history. Network the crap out of your online network...and people you don't even know. I've gotten in contact with authors, made business connections, landed jobs...and even a date (I know, the career coach getting a date from LinkedIn = corny & embarrassing) from networking via LinkedIn. Finally, research companies. Typically, people don't leave jobs, they leave companies. Do your research and make sure you understand the culture of the company and industry before you accept a job!