One
of the first COVID calls came in late April. Emily, the daughter of a neighbor
of ours, had been laid off. The business she worked for sold restaurant
supplies to popular restaurants in the Houston area. The restaurants were in
lockdown, no one was ordering anything, and even though Emily was a top
salesperson, the salespeople with the least seniority were all laid off. She
was crushed. Emily had to move back home to live with her parents with her three
dogs and their four cats. It wasn’t a good situation.

Her
mom called one afternoon and asked if I could help Emily get a job. She’d been
submitting resume after resume and couldn’t even get an interview for a barista
at a drive-through coffee shop. It can be hard to make the cut when everyone’s
out there looking for a job.

Fast
forward eight months, the country’s still in lockdown, and you may find
yourself in the same situation Emily was in. And to make things worse, the news reminds you every day
that over 10
million people are looking for jobs
 and that employers have hundreds, even thousands of
applicants for every open position. You’re scared to even start looking. It’s okay. You just need a little help to jumpstart your job search.

It’s
easy to get confused and overwhelmed by all the moving parts and things you
have no control over in a job search. But if you focus on the
fundamentals you can jumpstart your job search, and get the job you want.

And
that’s just what I did for Emily.

Job Search Fundamental #1: Write a Smart Resume

There’s
a big difference between the average resume and what I call a smart resume. The
average resume includes a generic summary or objective at the top and an employment history that reads like a job description and makes you look – you
know – like the average candidate. And we don’t want that. 

To
establish yourself as a top candidate, you’ve got to have a smart resume. You
need a resume that can get through the artificial intelligence (AI) filters of
Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS.) ATS is a type of software used by businesses
to quickly scan and sort the hundreds of resumes they receive for each job.

Because
of AI, 75% of resumes don’t make it through the ATS first cut. What that means is that if
you have a smart resume that’s written specifically to make it through the AI
of applicant tracking systems, you have just leapfrogged over everyone else and
are now in the top 25% of applicants. You didn’t suddenly get more experience –
you just got a better resume.

So,
to jumpstart Emily’s job search, I started with her resume. I got rid of the
fancy formatting, columns, and fonts and created a streamlined resume that was
easy for the AI of applicant tracking systems to analyze and categorize. If an
ATS runs into a fancy element that it can’t read, it doesn’t try to figure it
out – it just dumps that resume in the “can’t read” pile. Emily’s
resume was pretty to look at but had so many fancy elements that it was ending
up in the can’t read pile. We streamlined the formatting, fonts and used
standardized section headings to make her resume more ATS-friendly.

Then
I added keywords like business development, account management, up-selling, and
cross-selling because these are skills that hiring managers are looking for in
a salesperson. Emily needed those keywords in her resume for the ATS to pick
her out as a top candidate. 

Her resume went from average to impressive in less than an hour. No kidding. You can jumpstart your job search with a smart resume too!

Job Search Fundamental #2: Networking

Networking
is more important than ever. Over 70% of jobs are never advertised. Never. They’re not on job posting websites, and they don’t show
up on the company’s website.

Emily
was initially reluctant to let people know she’d been laid off and that she was
looking for a new position. She was embarrassed and felt like she was imposing
by asking people if they might know of a job that would be a fit for her.

Let’s
get over that hurdle right now. All you’re doing here is asking people to let
you know if there’s a job they’ve heard about that you’d be a fit for. And if
they have, you’re just asking them to pass your resume on with a word or two
about how they know you and why you’d be a good fit for the position and the
company. And that’s it. You’re not asking them to pester the hiring manager
until you get an interview or camp outside the recruiter’s office until someone
promises to look at your resume. If you think about it, you’re actually giving
them a chance to look good by helping the company fill a job.

In
the grand scope of life, passing your resume along is not the biggest favor
you’ll ever ask a friend, so stop feeling like you’re imposing and just ask.
You’d do the same for a friend, wouldn’t you?

I
had Emily make a list of her friends that worked at companies that employed
salespeople. We started with friends in the restaurant industry and expanded to
the hospitality industry. I drafted a one-paragraph email for her to send with
her smart resume attached. The key here is to make the email a quick and easy
read that asks for help without making the person feel obligated. You know,
just an email between friends.

Then
I had her parents go through the same process. They made a list of people they
knew in the restaurant industry – her parents knew three people – and people
they knew in the hospitality industry – they knew one person who owned several
Marriott hotels. I drafted a short email for them to send with Emily’s resume
attached.

Emily
sent out the emails with her resume to all the people on her list. And her
parents sent out their emails too. Within two days, her parents got an email
back from the person they knew who owned several Marriott hotels. He was
looking for a salesperson to help promote their new program selling hotel rooms to people who need to work remotely but can’t work from
home. You know, like someone who has small children wandering in during Zoom
calls or multiple dogs barking loudly in the background.

Emily
had an interview on Monday of the following week, and on Friday, they offered
her the job. Boom! She started a week later, and after a month, she and her
three dogs moved into their own apartment. Everyone was happy.

The Fundamentals Will Work For You

Using
just two of the job search fundamentals – that aren’t really that complicated or hard – Emily landed a great job with even
better long-term career potential than her previous job. Focusing on the
fundamentals worked for Emily, and they’ll help jumpstart your job search too.

If
you need a little, or a lot, of help to jumpstart your job search, check out my coaching
options here
. Or, shoot me an email to ask a question. Because looking for a job is easier with a little help from a friend.

Valerie Hayes is an award-winning Human Resources professional who got her first job by out-interviewing her competition. Now she uses her experience from both sides of the interview table to help you get the job you want. She offers practical, encouraging coaching and advice that works. Contact Us to have Valerie speak at your online event or to book her as a podcast guest.