5 Things people forget to do PRIOR to submitting that first resume

Job hunting is a complex art these days and even the tiniest advantage over the competition can mean the difference between landing the interview… or not even getting the rejection email. Let's face it, you really don’t want to shoot your resume in the foot before you’ve even given it a chance to be seen.

Here are a few things to consider before clicking that Apply button. Because hey…  they might just get you hired.


Check your greeting on your voicemail (and make sure your inbox isn’t full)

After a long day of staring into an abyss of resumes, hiring managers do not want to find your resume, like what they see, and then call you…only to be disappointed when they hear an unprofessional or inarticulate voicemail greeting. A gem I heard recently: "It's me. Leave one." ::Ugh... eye roll:: Do yourself a favor and update your greeting, so a professional message awaits the recruiters reaching out to you. Also, be sure that you clearly state your name, so they can be sure they dialed the right number. Tip: Smile when you speak. It makes you sound more welcoming over the phone.  In addition to the outgoing greeting, you also want to make sure your inbox isn’t full. On more than one occasion, I have had to email someone because I wasn’t allowed to leave a message. Email is widely used by recruiters, but is not always preferred because it usually takes a lot longer to hear back. And when you’re pre-screening candidates and trying to set up interview schedules, a timely response is everything.  

Lastly, if you’re job hunting and you get a call from a number you don’t recognize, let it go to [you're newly improved] voicemail. I know that sounds backwards, but trust me. This will allow the recruiter to leave you a detailed message so you can hear which position they are calling you about. If you’ve applied all over town, you definitely don't want to be caught off guard and have to ask them "which job are you calling me about?" That tells recruiters you're all over the place. Let it go to voicemail. You can then call them back from a quiet place, where there are no distractions, and you can have the job description right in front of you. 


Google yourself… and then click “images”

These days, you just have to accept that someone will probably look you up on LinkedIn, Facebook, and run a quick Google search for your name and location. It's not meant to stalk you, but rather to see what kind of personal brand you’re putting out there for people to see. If a company is potentially bringing someone on board, they’re going to want to know who is representing them to their clients – in every way. While some people with common names can be a bit insulated by this, others will very clearly stand out, so do yourself a favor and run the appropriate searches. You want to see what they will see.  

Things to consider: 

  • Are your Facebook newsfeed and photo albums on lockdown so non-friends can’t view them? 
  • Is your Facebook or LinkedIn cover photo polarizing, political, over-sexualized, drug-related, or offensive upon first glance? 
  • If you Google your name and click images, are there photos that pop up to any other “old social media accounts” that you perhaps forgot to deactivate? 
  • Are there any controversial videos you’re tagged in on YouTube?

Most employers are not going to drill down past the surface level information that pops up, but it’s certainly a good idea to consider what’s out there prior to flooding the interwebs with your resume, especially if you're going into PR, marketing, or sales.


Update your LinkedIn profile

Many people put their LinkedIn URL on their resume and then forget to actually update their profile prior to applying for roles. You have to remember- they’re going to look! Not only do you want to update your experience, but also think about what kinds of roles you’re applying to and make sure your headline and summary reflect that.  An additional “wow-factor” piece that a lot of people are adding include video resumes or video introductions. Adding media to your profile engages employers even more (when done right), and makes you stand out from the competition. Tip: Make a video and answer the "Tell us a little about yourself" question. Just remember to keep it professional - not personal. No one cares about your stamp collection.


Line up your recommendations and leverage them to help you GET the interview

Instead of waiting until you’re interviewing to collect references, line those individuals up ahead of time and communicate your job hunt process to them so they EXPECT the call when it comes in. Let them know you are looking, and be sure to ASK them if you can use them as a professional or academic reference- don’t just assume. In addition to just having someone’s “okay” and then listing their number and email somewhere, think ahead and ask those individuals for letters of recommendation.

Are you both on LinkedIn? If so, see if you can leverage those recommendations in order to LAND the interview, not just seal the deal after you’ve received one. You can do this by requesting they add the recommendation directly to your LinkedIn profile. This way, the second you have even one recommendation on there, you can add a line to your resume that states “For immediate recommendations, please see [LinkedIn URL].”  Employers will jump over to your profile to view them, and guess what? It could be the nudge you needed to secure that phone interview ahead of someone else. It happens ALL the time.


If you’re applying to jobs out of state, start budgeting...now

Even if your first interview can take place over the phone or via Skype, there’s a chance you’ll be asked to fly out for an in-person interview before the company makes a solid offer. While larger companies that are used to conducting national searches for employees are used to footing the bill to fly candidates out and put them up in a hotel for a few days, it’s not necessarily guaranteed every company will. If you found their posting online because you were specifically looking in that state, they may not be expecting someone from far away to apply, and therefore, haven’t budgeted to fly someone out for an interview. Even if a company does pay, traveling still gets expensive when you think about eating out three meals a day, getting around on public transportation, renting a car, etc., so be sure to put aside a travel fund if you know you’re going to be applying to jobs out of state.  Furthermore, if they’re looking to have someone start sooner rather than later, you might also want to look ahead at apartments and start saving even more considering you’ll need to put down first month’s rent and a deposit – and those are due BEFORE you’ll be getting that first pay check, so save up in advance. You can always try and negotiate a sign-on bonus to help offset costs, but again, that usually won't get to you until your first paycheck. 

Have a friend in that location? Ask them if they'll consider letting you couch surf, or at the very least, use their address on your resume when applying.  If the company knows you have roots locally, or that you'll be moving out there regardless, they will feel more secure considering you since they either a) won't have to pay to relocate you, or b) won't risk you changing your mind on relocating in general (which happens often). Help them help you get there.

Krystal Hicks