Beat the Wave: Relationships NOT Résumés

March 24, 2011


A new job is posted and in comes the flood of applicants with many of the same credentials, education and experience you have. How do you beat the wave of job seekers? Having a solid résumé is the first step, but you have to first get noticed.

I’m a firm believer that you are capable of beating the wave. You already have everything you need to get the right job in terms of credentials.  Your résumé is probably superb, and even if it’s not, you are smart enough to find ways to fix it.  But chances are- despite all of this, you’ve suffered the painful fate of simply being ignored, time and time again.

What’s missing?   Your confidence. You know you’re qualified and going to kick butt wherever you’re hired- but what’s keeping you from getting noticed?  Well, hun- sometimes we are in our own way.

Your Résumé is Easy to Ignore, a Relationship (even new) Is Not:

Your résumé and cover letter is just a piece of paper.  With one click your potential employer can delete it, but chances are, it’s lost in obscurity in her mailbox to the point it never even gets noticed.  If you want a job, you need to go beyond the simple click-to-submit option of applications.  You need to call the employer, and even if they try to screen you out at reception, you need to sell yourself on why an interview would benefit them.  Chances are though- you don’t want to “bother,” them or perhaps you know they’re not going to listen.  Honey, that’s a poor excuse if ever I saw one.  Your résumé says you’re an up-and-coming go getter, but why should employers believe that if you’re not going to reach out and stand out?  Nobody’s getting a favor by you being shy.

Case in point: I applied for a JUNK TON of jobs when moved to Chicago, but I was too shy to call and follow up about my résumé and see if I could book an interview.  Hoping my piece of paper, in a sea of other papers was going to get noticed was a total cop-out.  What was I afraid of?  Rejection?  Why wasn’t I persistent to call and assure them that an interview with me was totally worth their time?

I hid behind a piece of paper because I was afraid of rejection.  But you know what’s worse than rejection in this job market, being ignored.  When you are ignored, it’s a greater waste of your time than getting turned down for a job.  At least if you’re not hired,  you can inquire what went wrong or ask for leads- but being ignored teaches us very little.

Use the Existing Relationships You Have:

Just as I have confidence in your competency as mentioned above, I am also pretty darn confident that you already know someone who can guide you to a new job– you just have to ask (and ask frequently).  Building relationships is important, but as anyone in sales will tell you- it’s harder and more expensive to get a new client than to profit from an existing one.  Chances are as long as you have solid relationships with the professional people in your life, someone will know of something you could apply for, or have an idea for you to get your foot in the door in your ideal industry.  You just have to ask.

But here again it’s easy to cop-out and hide!  You can post a frustrated update on Facebook, “Does anyone know of a job?”  That will not work (and quite frankly annoys the fuzz out of me).  Why? It’s vague, unprofessional and sends the message that you aren’t committed to asking the tough questions or doing whatever it takes to get the job.  Here too, you will be ignored…well, unless your buddy from high school has an opening at the Dairy Queen he manages.

Instead of hiding behind vague, broad inquiries- ask better questions to the right people. If used properly, Facebook is a fine way to discover contacts and gain leads- but you need to know who is on your friends list, what they’re doing and start building rapport.  Social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn are great for establishing connections and building community with other professionals- but you cannot expect it to do the work for you.  Your personal relationships with people will get you noticed and people are usually helpful if they see that you’re serious through professional, direct contact.



So have the courage to get out there and get noticed.  Ask questions, send messages, build connections.  Be bold about it- you are too broke and hate your current situation too much to be ignored any longer.  Trust me, it will get to the point when being painfully shy is too painful to endure, and when that happens- you will become the squeaky wheel (in a tactful way of course).  Shout to the heavens about your goals, while simultaneously conversing with people that you’re serious about them and need to enlist their help.

You are smart enough to figure this out.  Just do it- you already know who you need to know- ask them.  If they can’t help, they will know someone who does.  When you apply for your next job- reach out and sell yourself.  Be super nice to the receptionist or hiring agent, and sell them on an interview in a way that they’d have nothing to lose.  You know you’re qualified, you know you’re ready for this- be confident and make that call, and make it several times if you have to!


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