A few weeks ago I was talking to my sister who, and if you read this post you’ll already know this, is just about to graduate from university. As we were discussing her plans for afterward, and where she wanted to look for jobs, she said to me “I just don’t know how to pass my resume out, other than to apply for online job postings”. I think it’s truly a shame that after years of university study, an extremely educated person has no idea where to start to put all that knowledge to use. Because online job postings, as we all know, do not cut it. Lucky for you, I found that out the hard way, and through that have developed some other great methods to get my resume seen. More importantly, I’ve been able to successfully convert those resume views into interviews. And not that I’m calling you a skeptic, but I got this note in an email earlier this year, so I must be doing something right.
1) LinkedIn + Other Online Resumes
First things first, tell me you have a profile on LinkedIn! If you’re unsure about it, or don’t understand why you’d need it, read this post. I’m going to tell you right now that refusing LinkedIn is like living in 1998 and thinking the internet itself is useless – it’s just wrong. Have a LinkedIn profile, and fill it out as completely and professionally (i.e. no status updates about your fun weekendzzz guyzzz) as you can. If you’d like an example, mine is here. Next, create your own personalized url for your profile (instructions here). If you’re into a more visual representation of your past experience, check out VisualCV, which is a much more customizable online portfolio that is great for more arts- and visuals-oriented professions, like web design, etc. But even science people like me can put something interesting together. Again, mine is here if you’d like to check it out.
2) Email Signatures
Once you’ve got your online resume(s) set up, and got your custom URLs, put together a professional email signature that can be included in all correspondence with anyone who could provide you with a potential networking contact, even friends and family. You never know where your next job could come from. One of my best friends got a job overseas and it all started with a random conversation on a bus in Vancouver. Moral of the story: cast your net wide and you’ll be surprised what you can reel in.
3) Networking + Developing Contacts
Once you’ve got your online CV ducks all in a row, it’s time to start talking to friends and family, and informing them of your job search and asking if they know anybody in your field. Your friends and your friends’ friends are an extremely valuable resource, but remember: you’re not asking them to get you a job. What you really want is someone in your field who you can talk to and ask questions of in order to get a realistic view of your industry, which is much more valuable than what they teach you about it in university. The goal here is to get to the point where you can email the contact initially to ask for a 15 minute phone conversation, meeting, or even just to keep exchanging emails with questions. But the result is that you’ll have your CV links attached in your email signature, and if you provide the links, people will click them.
4) Job Fairs
Offline, there are a number of other opportunities to hand out your CV, and surprisingly it can be done in a more tasteful manner than shoving your CV in any recruiter’s face. You can head to a job fair, and for that you should bring your paper resume, but always start a discussion with the employers first. Never offer up your resume and move on. In fact, keep your resume out of sight completely, because that alone will make you stand out from the crowd of desperate resume passer-outers. Start a conversation, ask them about the company and their role, and why they’re at the job fair today. What are they looking for? Is there an actual position to fill, or are they just looking for expressions of interest? Assess if it’s a good enough fit for you, and only after at least a few minutes of chatting, offer to leave your CV with them. Then, ask them for their card so you can follow up later – a quick email a few days afterward will remind them of your conversation, and will provide them with those links in your email signature!
5) Face-to-Face Coffee Chats
Last thing: if you can manage to set up face-to-face meetings with people (commonly known as coffee chats), take your resume along, but again, don’t bust it out right away. The purpose of any face-to-face chat that is not an interview is to glean information from the other person, not to be a job monger. Instead, when you can, tie what they’re saying about their role with your own experience (“I used to do something similar to ___ skill, I think that could be a good fit for me down the road”), and eventually they might ask you for a copy of your CV; oh, look, just happened to have one in a plastic sleeve in my bag right here! Imagine that! These rules break for an actual interview though, in which case you should pull your resume out right away and give it to your interviewer(s). If they’ve already got a copy, fine, use it to refer to as you speak about your past experience. Visuals, even just a piece of paper with words, can be a great help.
6) Link Tracking
In person you’ll know that people are going to at least take a glance at your CV, but online it’s a bit more difficult. For me, when I was emailing contacts in Australia while still living in Canada, I found it really helpful to use bitly to create links that track each time they’ve been clicked. I’d create a custom link URL for each email contact, and then monitor them to see if the recipient actually clicked on my CV links. If you’re interested, I can put together another post on how I made my connections and started my job search from overseas – just let me know if that’s something you’d like to read.
The key in all of these tactics is to get your resume seen by the right people, and in a way that is tasteful and personable. You want it (and you yourself) to stand out and to be memorable, which is why it’s best to start a conversation with the person before handing over your CV. They’ll be more likely to remember you if they had to ask for your CV, or if they’ve at least started to develop a bit of a connection with you. I’ll be honest, I’m still working over my irrational fear of asking people to coffee chats, because I’m a nervous mess when it comes to blind meetings, but in my friends’ experience, that’s the very best way to make connections and find out who’s hiring. If you’re looking for more resources on how to get that started, check out here and here and here, because I don’t feel comfortable giving out advice for something I’m too chicken to initiate myself. Hey, we’ve all got things to work on. But if you’ve got any questions, or any other great tactics for getting your name out there in the job market, please please share them below. I know my sister will be reading, and she’ll be glad for anybody else’s input. Happy CVing everyone!