Whether you're dying to work at a particular company or just want a complete career overhaul, landing that initial interview is always the first hurdle. But there's more to securing that first meeting than applying online or calling prospective employers' human resources department. The following tips help you take your career destiny into your own hands with a strategy that will help you land the interview of your dreams.
1. Revamp your résumé
No one likes updating his or her résumé, but a perfect polish is the very first thing that helps to make you stand out from the job-applying pack. To do it right, start from scratch. Look back at your jobs through a different lens-and be proud about what you've done. Your enthusiasm and pride will show through as you rewrite the content. And though this might be obvious, don't forget to put your biggest and most recent accomplishments at the top. While important, the college you attended 10 years ago isn't quite as important as the $10 million account you landed last year. Additionally, you may want to tweak the emphasis of your résumé for each company you apply to, as essential skills and experience varies from company to company.
2. Clean up your Facebook page
The first thing hiring managers do when they receive a good résumé is look up the prospective employee on Google. Then they check Facebook. Seriously. Before you submit your résumé anywhere, search for yourself on Google. If anything off-putting shows up in the search results, do what you can to get it removed. And do a quick review of your photos on Facebook. Ask yourself if that funny photo of you pounding beers five years ago really needs to be there. (We're guessing it doesn't.) Ditto anything you're ranting about on Twitter. Even if your negative comments are funny, they won't make the best impression.
3. Increase your activity on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is one of the best job discovery tools available. If you're not already a member, become one and quickly connect with all your past and present coworkers. The professional social network is not only the preferred place to post jobs for some of the country's most exclusive companies, it also provides unprecedented access to industry leaders and associations. Plus, many professionals use their LinkedIn status updates to share job openings and ask for potential referrals. Take the time to customize your profile and increase your network. It just might pay off with an amazing career opportunity.
4. Keep an ear to the ground
Did you know that many of the best jobs are usually never advertised? That's right-many position are filled without a job post ever appearing online or in the paper. These are opportunities you'll never even know you missed! Stay on top of your network: regularly check in with people who either work where you'd like to or who know people that do. Don't be afraid to ask about current openings. It just might be your only way of hearing about them!
5. Network for insider connections
In today's job market, sometimes it really can come down to who you know. Dive deep into your network-meaning, don't just stop with your own friends and family, ask them who they know and could introduce you to. And make sure to follow local events. You never know who you might bump into at the valet of an art opening or the coat check at a fundraiser. (Hint: the more expensive the ticket, the better chance you'll have to hobnob with the real movers and shakers.) But before you attend even one event, practice your 30-second elevator pitch until you know it in your sleep. Meeting VIPs won't matter if you can't sell yourself in a quick and concise way.
6. Create your own 'in'
If you've identified a company you'd really like to work for and simply can't find an in, create one yourself. Call the most senior person in the department where you want to work and ask for an informational interview. Or send them your resume along with something unexpected that makes you stand out-a photo of yourself, a "Have a Nice Day" card, or a box of cookies. Be willing to wait and expect to get bumped a few times, but with persistence and charm, you will get in the door. Come prepared with ideas to improve the department and by extension, the company. If they flat out refuse to let you schedule a meeting, send your ideas via email to anyone you think that would be interested or have influence. If your thoughts are any good, you are likely to get a response.
7. Don't give up
The most successful people know that giving up is not an option. If you get denied, continue to gently and respectfully remind people of influence at the companies you're interested in that you are ready to work for them. Let them know that your dream job lies with them by sending periodic reminders (say every month or two) or leaving a professional, brief, and warm voicemail message. Ask what skills you can gain to better your chances. Offer to take a more entry level job to work your way up. Make yourself top of mind without being overbearing and when a job does open up, it just might have your name on it.