In this short article, I would like to give you some strategies on how to get your resume in front of the right people.

In today’s hiring world there are often filters in place which will make it quite difficult for the applicant(you) to even reach the hiring manager or the right HR contact.

Some of the filters are simply humans who screen the incoming applications, in other cases, your application will be read and filtered by robots or so-called ATS (applicant tracking systems).

The good news is you can by-pass those filters or apply the right strategies to beat them.

How to get your application in front of the right people!

The first section will describe what strategies and tricks you can apply to beat the robots / ATS software. The second part focuses on strategies to get the application directly in front of real people.

How to beat the robots?

Good news! In order to beat the robots, you can mostly adhere to the best practices for writing resumes and application letters. However, as the software usually uses specific criteria to filter successful applicants you can make sure that you check the boxes. Here is how:

  • Keep formatting simple.
    The software will only look at hard, cold text.. So save the fancy highlighting etc.. just create a simple clean formatted resume
  • Use the right keywords.
    This is the most important part! Use the right keywords. Most people will try to identify the right keywords from the job posting. This is certainly a way however there is a better way to do it.

To identify the best keywords create a list of 10-15 direct competitors from some of the job networks. Competitors are people who work in the kind of job or similar positions for which you want to apply. In the profiles of those people you will find the right keywords which are important for the job.

Example for Linkedin: 

  • Search for the same job title and identify people who are still working in the position.
  • Open the profiles of the people and go to the section Featured Skills & Endorsements
  • Take the keywords you find there and note them down (take all keywords you even remotely possess)

Now incorporate the keywords in your resume. Take 5-7 of the keywords in which you have strong experience or know that you are good with. Those keywords will form the base of your resume.

Now take keywords you have some work experience in. Those you can simply briefly mention in the resume. Do not mention any keywords where you have no experience or knowledge.

Once you have incorporated those keywords the likelihood that the software will mark you as a suitable candidate is quite high.

  • Replace the career objective section with a qualification summary.
    Instead of stating the obvious that you are looking for a job in the industry etc.. replace this section with a summary of your strongest qualifications. This can be roughly six sentences or bullet points filled with ATS-friendly keywords.
  • Use spell-check.
    As usual, you should always check your spelling. Make absolutely sure there are no mistakes. It is bad enough if human readers detect a mistake, however, they will be at least able to understand the meaning in most cases. If the software is used, it will simply ignore the words as they cannot interpret it. This will drastically decrease your chances. Therefore use spell-check and re-read several times.

How to get your application in front of the right people?

In order to get your application into the right hands and not just the gatekeepers you need to get a little bit creative. Here are some strategies you can use:

  • Dropping off the resume in person.
    In today’s digital world this can make a really good impression. Find out the address of the office and the contacts. Print your resume and put it in a nice looking folder. Dress neat and go to the office. Once there introduce yourself and inform the person on the desk that you are here to drop off your application for the job posting XYZ. Ask the person at the reception if she can contact the hiring manager or HR contact so that you can hand it over personally. Sometimes this is not possible, in such a case remain friendly and hand it over to the person at the desk. Even this can already leave the right impression.

  • Classical per mail.
    Try to figure out the email of the hiring manager and send him your application via email (if it is not explicitly forbidden on the application). If the email is not visible on the application, try to figure out his contact details by searching via Google or LinkedIn. Sometimes it helps if you call the company and ask for the contacts of the hiring manager for the specific job posting.

  • Looking for job advertisements and reacting to it.
    Look for offline job advertisements and reply or react to it. If it is an offline advertisement your chances are good that this goes directly into human hands.

  • Networking and directly reaching out.
    This requires a bit more effort but can be super effective. If you know the company you want to apply to. Check your contacts or networks and figure out if you maybe know someone who knows someone who works for the company. If you find someone in your network (e.g. Linkedin or Facebook or just personal Network) write them a message which goes like:
    “Hello XYZ,
    _
    I just saw that we have a common contact and that you are working for the company . At the moment I am applying to the following job offering at your company for which I consider myself a very good match, given my experience and skills. I hope you don’t mind my boldness, but could you help me to get my resume into the hands of the right person?

    Thanks and best regards,
    ”_

  • Twitter tactics.
    If the job is posted on twitter, contact the page administrator and ask who the hiring manager is. This works quite often and gives you direct access to the right contact.

  • Facebook
    If you only have the company name search for it on FB and filter results by “people”. Look also for group pages or fan pages and become a fan or a member. Remind your friends that you are looking for connections.
    Once you have some contacts reach out. Of course in some cases, people might not respond. However, if you keep your request reasonable and low effort most people are happy to help.

  • Linkedin
    Linkedin is the most obvious place to gather and build your network. Proceed similar to the Facebook strategy and try to directly reach out to contacts in similar positions.

  • Cold Calling
    Most people will be quite uncomfortable with this. This is why it is so effective. Try to find out the hiring manager’s phone number. Do some research if it is not on the application. If you can’t find any information try to call the company and ask: “Hello, my name is . I am applying to a job offering in the department . Could you give me the contact information of the hiring manager?”.

    Once you have the phone number call the person. Ideally, call after 5 pm. This usually avoids that your call lands on the desk of the secretary/gatekeeper.

  • Doing internships.
    In your to get a company to know you and the other way around internships are a good way to build your network and show what you can do. However, in some cases it might not be a good option, especially if you cannot show your skills or if the internship is unpaid and you are on a budget.

One last advice before I end this article: Always, always read the job interview carefully and follow its instructions! In many cases, employers will put something in the posting to ensure only people are considered who really read the details and can follow instructions. Make sure you are one of them.  

Now that your application reaches the right people it is time to prepare for the upcoming interview. If you want to know how to do this, continue reading here: How to get a job part 4 – The interview/

I hope this article was useful to you. Let me know if you have some good strategies on how to get your application into the right hands, which I did not include here!
Jonathan