You need to make sure you’re getting your resume in front of the decision maker, but that can be more difficult than expected. Send resumes to a company generically, rather than to a specific person, and your resume could end up in the garbage. It’s well worth the time it takes to do the necessary research so you can write a targeted cover letter and make certain that your job application lands on the right desk.
Try these tips to increase your chances of the right eyes reading your resume:
Figure out who’s hiring
Before you write your cover letter, you should know who the hiring manager is for the company you’re interested in working with. It’s rarely listed in the job description or website, so you’ll have to do some digging for the information.
Call the company
A simple call during business hours asking the receptionist for the name of the hiring manager will often do the trick. If not, however, you can always try calling after hours and running through the company voicemail directory. Sometimes a departmental director will give you names of the people there. You can cross check the names through LinkedIn later to make your best guess.
Get on social networks
Social networks are an excellent way to find out quite a bit of information about a company. LinkedIn’s Company profiles can be a powerful tool for that research. Once on the company’s LinkedIn profile, you have the option of seeing who has recently been hired, a list of all employees, and a ranking of employees according to how many degrees of separation they are from you. This will help you make contacts and find the hiring manager.
Search the website
Finally, while the hiring manager may not be listed as staff on the company website, you may be able to find a name in a press release or company announcement by searching relevant terms in the website search box or a domain search on Google with a relevant title.
Customizing the Cover Letter
Cover letters aren’t always necessary, but many companies prefer to receive them, so it’s a good idea to write one. It should be targeted specifically to the company, so don’t just write a generic letter to send to everyone.
Your cover letter is your introduction to the hiring manager, so keep it brief and to the point. It should include your reason for contacting the manager, as well as how you found the position you’re interested in applying for. Keep in mind that larger companies often advertise for multiple positions at a time, so make sure they know which one you want.
Include the three biggest reasons that you should be hired based on your previous experience. Make sure you give examples from previous jobs to back up your claims. At the end, include a polite closing and a way to contact you. If you’re sending the resume and cover letter via email, include the introduction in the body of the email since many recruiters will not open the attachment. This way you know it will be read.
It’s also a good idea to follow up a week or so after you have sent the resume and cover letter in. This can be a simple reminder email or a phone call, just to make sure that the hiring manager has seen your resume. In some cases, this follow-up could be what lands you the job.
While getting that all-important interview is more difficult these days, a little research can go a long way. Don’t waste your efforts by sending out shoddily written cover letters. Make sure your information gets to the right person.
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs, a niche job board for public relations, communications and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.