What do you do when you get a “Thanks for your application, but… no thanks”, for a job for which you are highly qualified? Do you scream at the gods of bad luck? Do you try to find out what you did wrong or why you weren’t the “chosen one”? Well good luck with that! My experience is that you’ll get a standard response, “The search was very competitive, and while your background is strong, we had to chose a finalist candidates that came the closest to fulfilling our needs”. Sound familiar?
Experience has shown that there are four basic ways to respond to a turndown: Forget it, resubmit a stronger resume, search for an internal connection, or go directly to the hiring manager. Let’s discuss each one.
- Forget it! If they’re not smart enough to see your value, that’s their problem! Of course, that assumes you have clearly articulated your value through measurable and definitive results. Sometimes a computer screens your resume looking for multiple key words. Other times a screening individual may not understand your experiences that parallel the hiring manager’s needs. If you have other strong opportunities to pursue or you don’t meet the minimum requirements, it’s probably best to move on.
- Go back and fine-tune your resume to make it compelling. Most resumes that I work with have undervalued the achievements of the candidate. Resumes must be compelling in order to get a screening telephone call. What should you do? Carefully match your experiences with the words in the position description: Word for word when possible. Make sure you have inserted key measurable results that are required by the hiring organization. Numbers speak much louder then words.
- Research the company through Google or LinkedIn to see if you know someone already in the organization. Check out associations, like College Alumni, trade or professional groups. Once you find a connection, send an email to introduce yourself in a positive way and ask if you can meet with them. Example: “As a fellow alumni of XXX College, I’d like to find out more about your industry…” A well-developed and tailored email can usually get you a meeting or phone call. Of course this step should have been done beforehand.
- Contact the hiring manager directly. This option may be more difficult, but not impossible. Simply call the company and ask for the department head of your function to get a name. Usually you’ll get the department secretary or administrative assistant who will say, “Mr. Smith’s office, or Ms. Jones’ telephone”. Be ready with your introduction, saying that you want to send a communications to Mr. Smith but need his office or email address.
Finding your way back into contention needs to be a bold and strong move on your part and it starts with a bold and strong resume that compels the hiring manager to reconsider.
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