How To Land That First “Professional” Job – Apply!

When on the hunt for that “Professional” job it is very important to do our research, target specific opportunities, effectively apply and promptly respond to inquiries! This, instead of taking a shotgun approach (i.e., sending out dozens, even hundreds of resumes with the hope that something will stick).

What follows are some thoughts on how best to do so.

Research and Targeting of Specific Opportunities

First, we must identify potential companies and opportunities out there which we may wish to pursue. In the case of my son, who has just begun his hunt for a web developer job, he would start by looking for high-tech companies in the geographic area(s) he wishes to pursue.

One could do this by asking: “Do I know anyone in my network who works at, or has worked with, high tech firms in the area?

That is, start with one’s inner-circle (family, friends, colleagues) leveraging LinkedIn, in the process.

Voila, we have identified people in our network at companies which are worthwhile to consider!

Now that we’ve identified a few companies (to get started with) we can determine if they have any openings in our field. This is easy enough to do, by visiting their website. Good news, after doing some digging (a.k.a. research): voila – again!

We now have have a few companies with specific job opportunities aligned with our degree, training and experience.

To continue our research, we can follow-up with that person we know who works at (or previously worked at) the target company, to find out if they know anything about the position and/or hiring manager that would be helpful for us to be aware of as we prepare to apply.

Effectively Apply

Now that we have our target opportunities we must “effectively” apply. This involves:

  1. Officially applying to the job posting, online
  2. Networking in so our application makes it to the top of the pile

Let’s discuss each…

Officially applying for the job requires that we follow the path outlined on the prospective employer’s website.

Many companies offer options to “apply for this job” which involves completing online forms and/or submitting specific information they need for the first-level screening of candidates.  They may “also” offer the option to “simply” send an email with cover letter and resume to: careers@[the target company].com.

To this, it is suggested that we don’t take the simple road of ONLY submitting a cover letter and resume via email if/when the company provides the “path” to apply for a specific job. The reason: often, recruiting processes are setup such that when we apply for a specific job online the candidate’s application will go straight to the assigned recruiter and/or hiring manager.

If we were to ONLY send our information to the generic “careers” email it may very well get lost in the noise. This can also give the impression that we are lazy, in that we didn’t take the time to complete the information to apply for the specific job that is clearly outlined on their website. Thus, we’ve just fallen out of the first level screening. Opportunity lost!

As we apply, per the “path” outlined on the company’s website, we will at some point be asked to submit a resume (that is simple) as well as a cover letter (or answer questions similar to what is typically in a cover letter). This (cover letter information, outlined in a prior post) is crucially important as it serves as a conversation opener, to answer the question: “Why are you interested in / qualified for this position, at this company?” Do not take this lightly. Investing the necessary time to “tune” the cover letter information to align with the specific company and opportunity is an important step to get the attention of the prospective employer.

Now, the above is all well and good, especially if we don’t know anyone who works at this company. However, if you recall, we targeted this specific company because we DO happen to know someone who works there (or has previously). And, we may have even had a conversation with this person to learn more about the company, opportunity and/or hiring manager.

At this point, we can send a note to this person to let them know that we’ve officially applied for the specific position and ask if they could “put in a good word” with the recruiter and/or hiring manager.

Promptly Respond

At this point, if we’ve setup our profile on (as suggested in a prior post) and applied for a few positions using the approach above, we WILL receive inquiries from potential employers. These inquiries will come in via phone and email. To this, we must PROMPTLY RESPOND, the same day.

Realize that many companies have recruiters who are trying to fill numerous positions at a company. As such, they make a ton of outbound inquiries (via phone and email) and receive many inbound responses. If we aren’t at the top of their radar screen and promptly responding they will, quite simply (and necessarily) pass us by.

In a subsequent post I’ll cover the next, exciting step, of the interview!

Click here for the next article in this series.

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