Job Journey: The Art of the Follow Up

When you apply for a job, it’s a bit like calling someone after the first date.  You really want them to call back to make plans.  You keep looking at your phone (or hitting “get mail” in your mailbox) while you pretend to be doing something else.

What if you don’t hear back? How should you go about following up?

I like the “3 Touch” rule.  Reach out three times to follow up.  It can be emails, voice mails, LinkedIn messages or a combination of all three.  

Your messages (on either platform) should be short and meaningful.  Include your name and the role that you applied for.  If someone important suggested that you apply, mention that next.  Make a reference to the most relevant thing you bring to the table.  It could be your current title, the software you developed, the award you just won, Anything that might offer a spark of recognition when your resume hits the top of the pile.

If after three tries, you hear nothing, walk away.  You have made a strong impression.  You don’t want to cross the line into “oh no, not her again”.

Keep in mind, you might still in the running for the job.  All sorts of things happen behind the scenes to delay a positive response.

Your resume might be the next one to review when the recruiter gets called into two back to back meetings and that rolls into lunch and then all of the sudden, it’s the end of the day.  The resume pile goes home for an evening work session, but then he or she falls asleep on the couch only to be woken at 3am by the dog.

Or the hiring manager decides that this role is not as important as the other two in the department and so the focus shifts away for a week or two.

Be diligent and move on.  There are lots of opportunities out there.  Keep raising your hand and someone will call on you.


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Job Journey: How to Apply for the Job You Really Want

If you are lucky enough to know what you want to next, you don’t have to wait for it to be posted.

You can express your interest in ways other than the traditional application. This requires some research and perseverance but is likely to be worth it in the end.

Think about the role you want. What department is it in? Who leads the group? Who else interacts with the group or has overlapping activities? You can do most of this research on LinkedIn. Just search for people by company. Company is one of the boxes you can fill in on the Advanced Search page.

You can also check out the company web page to see who is listed there.


The next step is to figure out where you have connections. Perhaps some of the names were former colleagues? Maybe you belong to the same professional association? Any connection point will do.

A friend of mine got his last job from an introduction by one the parents he met at the arena during a hockey tournament.

The next bit is Networking 101. Reach out to say hello. See if they would be open to a conversation with you. Here is an opening line you can try: “You are obviously having great success with your organization. Would you be open to taking a few minutes to chatting about the culture?”

This will give you a chance to hear first hand about the organization and confirm that it is, in fact, the kind of place/department/group you want to join.

At some point in the conversation, the person will want to know why you are curious. That’s your cue to talk about yourself and your interest in a possible role. If the conversation has gone well, it is quite likely that they might offer to make an introductions for you. If they don’t offer, then put it out there yourself.

We can talk about how to follow up later but for now, do your research and get ready for the handshakes..

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Job Journey: How to Apply for a Job

There are lots of places to find jobs posted: LinkedIn, Monster, Indeed are just a few.  You can even look at company websites if you are specific companies in your sites.

Regardless of where you find the posting, the number one thing to do is to follow the instructions.

  • If you are asked to send your resume with a cover letter including your salary expectations, do that.
  • If you are asked to apply into their company site that is full of mandatory fields, do that.
  • If you are asked to use a particular reference number, do that too.

The posting is providing the gateway to the recruitment person or people.  They are not all robots even though sometimes it feels like they must be.  I know it seems like you are putting your information into a big, black hole but that is the most direct way of getting your resume into the pile for consideration.

You can help it get to the top part of the pile by making sure you have at least half of the requirements in the posting on your resume, preferably on the first page.

Feel free to be creative (but truthful).  When a posting asks for a designation, you can say P.Eng (in process) or CHRL (will be complete in April).  That allows you to rank high in the results even though you don’t exactly meet the requirement.

Similarly if you are asked for salary information in your cover letter, you can provide a wide range with some commentary.  For example, you could say “I am looking for 70-120k depending on the base, bonus, benefits and opportunities for growth”.  You have answered the question without hemming yourself in.

People do actually get jobs by applying to a posting. It is an important part of the job seeking process.

There are many alternate ways to show your interest in a company/role/opportunity and those will be covered in the coming weeks.


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Filed under Interview, Job Search, linkedin, Resume

Job Journey: Taking an Olympic Break

It’s 12 minutes to the puck drop for the gold medal women’s hockey game.  I am way too distracted to think about resumes.

Whether we win or not, it is sure to be inspiring and energizing and make me even prouder to be Canadian.

More on resumes and applying for jobs next week.


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Job Journey: Where to Park Your Resume

Now that your resume is refreshed and polished and you have it stored in a safe and accessible spot, you have a few more decisions to make.

You can choose to make your information available to hiring managers and recruiters or you can hold on to it until someone asks.

This really depends on how you are feeling about the next step in your career.  Are you actively seeking a change, open to considering a change or not wanting to change at all?  

If you are completely blissed out in your role, then hold on to your resume.  Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date so people (former colleagues, fellow alumni) can find you but other than that, keep on keeping on.

If you are open to hearing about new possibilities, you should definitely update your LinkedIn profile but you might also want to look at registering with Glassdoor, Indeed, Monster or other niche resume holding sites.

This allows people in the recruiting community to find your information and get in touch with you.  It’s up to you to decide which inquiries you want to act on and where you want to invest your time.

Make sure your personal (not work) email and phone number are clearly visible on your information.  There is no point in having it out there if there is no way to contact you.

If you are actively seeking a new gig, decide which sites make the most sense for your career and objectives.  Monster and LinkedIn have become the universal, everyone-is-there spots but many professional associations host their own career sites and there are also sites for people who are just starting their career (Talentegg) or well established executives (Higherbracket).

Be sensible about where you put your material.  You don’t want to wallpaper the world.  You want to be in the place that will generate the most opportunities.



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Filed under career change, Job Search, linkedin, Resume

Job Journey: Resume Ready and Available

Now that your resume is ready to go and represents you in the best possible way, what will you do with it?

You could print a bunch of copies and carry them around with you. We carry coffee and water, why not resumes? Most people want you to send your resume. They don’t want to carry it around any more than you do.

There was a time when people carried little USB sticks with their resume saved on them. That still works but not great in practical terms. I have seen the tupperware that gets left in our canteen and using that as a baseline, I don’t think many people can or will keep track of a tiny little memory chip.

How about your phone? That works until you lose it or it falls in the toilet or dies just when you need it.

The simplest thing is to email the various versions of your resume to your own personal (not work!) email address. Then when you need it, you can sift through your inbox and forward the attachment with a nice note.

If you want a more robust (but still free) solution, set up a cloud folder. Dropbox, OneDrive or iCloud all offer free places to store your stuff in the cloud. You can access if from any laptop or desktop or from your phone if you install the app.

This lets you save the various versions or the modifications you make along the way. You could even start a log of your resume sending activities for follow up later.

But that’s for another day. For now, just work on getting your resume ready and having it handy.

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Filed under career change, Resume

Job Journey:  Resume Fonts, Formats and File Types

Your resume represents you and your years of hard work.   Make sure it looks great and is easy to read.

We all have hundreds of fonts and colours at our disposal.  Pick something crisp and clean.  Only a small percentage of people will print your resume.  Most will view it on a screen.  It might be a huge desktop monitor or it might be their phone.  You want to minimize any kind of curlicues or super- decorative stuff that won’t translate well to a small screen.

Pay attention special characters as well.  Straight forward bullets are fine but arrows and other fancy indentation markers can get mangled when they are opened in different formats.

Laying your education or career highlights out in boxes can be problematic as well.  If you resume is parsed (translated) by an applicant tracking system, it will frequently make a total mess of non-text elements.

Arranging your content vertically as opposed to horizontally can change how a search engine will find you.  Once your resume has been sucked into a company applicant system, recruiters use keywords to help sift through the database.  Where those keywords are on the page will help determine where your resume falls in comparison to others.

For example, if I use “MBA” as a keyword, the first resumes that I see when I search will have MBA at the top of the page.  If an unsuspecting candidate decided to put their hard-earned MBA in a cool box down the side of the page, the search engine might put that resume way further down the list.

There are many roles and organizations where having a cool or graphic or more creative resume makes sense.  In that case, save it as a pdf.  Most MS Word versions offer this as an option when you save a file.

A pdf is great because it will always look the way it did on your screen no matter who opens it.

There are couple of other file types to keep in mind.  If you are dumping your resume into a company website, you will likely be asked for a “text” version.  This is where all your special characters (like bullets) will get ugly. It makes sense to make a special text version and save it so you have it ready.

And there is nothing wrong with having a good old MS Word version.  It is easy to change on the fly when someone asks for it and you need a quick update.

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Filed under Job Search, Resume