People always ask me how they can stand out in a huge crowd of candidates.
|Photo by SC Fiasco|
Generally, my answer is, Be really qualified for the job. Everyone
hates that answer, because they want me to give them a trick or a tip
or some little thing they can do to control the outcome. Unfortunately,
being the most qualified candidate is really the only way to make sure
you're the one they call (unless you're related to the boss, or willing
to be a total weenie).
This is especially frustrating at the beginning of the hiring process,
when you know there are hundreds of candidates applying. You worry that
even though you ARE qualified, they might not read your resume closely
enough to see it. You worry that the HR person won't know enough about
the job to know whether you're qualified or not. You're worried about
whether your resumes has enough keywords to even be seen in a search of
their database. You want to call to follow up, but you know you
So try this:
Put a hard copy of your resume and your cover letter in an envelope,
and mail it to the hiring manager. Don't send it to HR. Use your
network, Google, LinkedIn, etc. to find out who the hiring manager is,
and mail it old-school.
In doing this, you're insuring that the person who is actually in
charge of this opening will see your resume. Usually they are screened
by HR, so you're making sure you at least get through that part.
There's no guarantee that that will mean you get a call, but it's
You don't need fancy resume paper; just regular printer paper is fine.
If you don't have a printer that does envelopes, it's fine to
hand-address it (in fact, I'm more likely to open a hand-addressed
envelope first). Whatever you do, don't use those goofy portfolios or
fancy folders-those are annoying and wasteful and often cannot be
recycled. You're going for simple here, not flashy.
You should write a special cover letter for this, with an extra
paragraph that says something like, I applied through [whatever the ad
said to do] on [whatever date], but I wanted to get in touch with you
directly as well. I'm very excited about the opportunity to work for
you at XYZ Company.
You should still apply through the method specified in the ad, because
people who can't follow directions don't get a call. Mail the resume
AFTER you've done so. Your goal is for the hiring manager to receive
your stuff, and then call the HR person and say, Hey, did you see this
Pat Gomez person? We should call that one. When that happens, you
want your resume to already be in that HR person's resume database.
Some people vary this a little by sending the packet via overnight
service. If you're out-of-town and want to be sure it gets there
quickly, I can sort of see this...but when I get a FedEx package from
the same town as me, I think, Wow, dude, you just wasted $15.
Wasteful spending is sort of out of style right now, so I'd stick to
the mail (with delivery confirmation, if you want to be sure it got
Oh, and so as to avoid making my Tales of the Cluefree list:
1. Use proper postage. Don't send it postage-due. The price of a
stamp just went up, and I always got postage-due stuff from candidates
right after that happened.
2. Please don't use your current employer's letterhead envelopes with
a personal return-address label slapped over the logo. It's tacky. Go
to Walgreen's and spend the $1.99 on a box of white envelopes. You
don't need fancy paper, but you do need paper that's not stolen.