Agencies are only as successful as their employees. If they have great, creative people, they’ll produce great, creative work. At Dagger, we believe hiring outside the agency mold from time to time can benefit our roster. Why? Diversity in backgrounds brings diversity in thinking. It’s relatively easy to teach someone about the industry, especially if they have those coveted “unteachable” qualities like raw talent, gravitas, and grittiness.
I’m a sucker for a good underdog story. And as a recruiter, I love hearing from unexpected applicants. However, time and time again, resumes leave me wishing for more. If you’re applying to a job that is different from your current career trajectory, you’ll need to work a little harder. How? Here are five simple tips.
Do your homework
Company research is often an overlooked, but very important, step in the application process. There’s so much you can learn about a company’s values by reading their blog or following them on Instagram. You can also learn about their hiring history by doing some good ole’ fashion internet stalking on LinkedIn.
Speaking of LinkedIn, see if you already have connections at the company you’re interested in. Offer to take them out for coffee so you can pick their brain. If that person’s willing to vouch for you, their referral will help you stand out in a pile of countless resumes.
Take a good, hard look at your resume
The average time a recruiter spends reviewing a resume is about six seconds. Even a smaller company like Dagger gets hundreds of applications to each job posted. I’d love to read each word on every resume, but ultimately it comes down to time management and reviewing each submission—even if it’s quick.
If you’re applying to a project management position and the first section on your resume lists every detail about your sales background, I’m not going to see how you’re a good fit.
Traditional resume structures are a thing of the past. Instead, use your creativity and critical thinking skills to present your experience in the best way suited for the job you are applying to. Think about how you can add sections that stand out t (i.e. ‘Relevant Project Management Experience’). Avoid listing responsibilities that don’t directly relate to the job you want. Don’t bury info that’ll convince me to give you a call.
Write a kickass cover letter
Cover letters are often underestimated by applicants and hiring managers, but I love them because they give me a better understanding of the applicant’s story. Cover letters let your personality and creativity shine, address your shortcomings and highlight your strengths.
Remember that homework you did earlier? Demonstrate what you learned here. Make it interesting, make it silly, make it impossible for me to ignore you. At the very minimum, show how you can provide what the company wants. True, your cover letter may not always be read. But why wouldn’t you give yourself every opportunity to make a good impression?
Sadly, applying for jobs has become an over-engineered, systematized process. After you apply, you get an automatic response and then you wait. At Dagger, we try to let each applicant know where they stand in the hiring process, but it’s impossible to schedule time with each person. Following up directly with HR, the recruiter or the hiring manager a few weeks after you apply can make a big difference.
Don’t be too pushy, just send them a friendly note with highlights from that killer cover letter. Crack a few jokes, ask for a coffee meeting to introduce yourself. Can’t find contact info? Use Linkedin. Chances are the recruiter has a profile you can connect with (and don’t just send an invite—add a nice note explaining why you want to connect.)
It’s hard not to take the job search process personally. Rejection stings, but it’s a part of the game. Sometimes a company has limitations on who they can hire due to a specific internal need. If you’ve been lucky enough to speak with someone at the company, it’s completely appropriate to ask for feedback after receiving notice that you didn’t get the job. Don’t be
defeated, use it as a learning experience!
I know, I know—the above steps seem like a lot of work. But slowing down and applying to jobs intentionally has the potential to open doors you may not have considered before. The question is how bad do you want it?