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Creating and Submitting Your Resume Package: From Cover Letters to Thank-You Notes (page 4)

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Updated on Nov 30, 2010

Getting Your Resume into the Right Hands

Research shows that a huge percentage of job openings never actually get advertised in the newspaper's help-wanted section or on an online job site. As a result, it's up to you, as the job seeker, to find the best job opportunities and apply for them. In addition to relying on the employment ads, take full advantage of your networking skills. Contact friends, acquaintances, past employers, coworkers (past and present), college professors, professional associations, relatives, and anyone else who might know of available job opportunities for which you'd be suited.

From an employer's standpoint, they want to hire people who come highly recommended. Thus, you will always have a better advantage when you approach a potential employer through a personal introduction. Once you know what type of job you want to pursue, think about people you know who already work in that industry (or for the company for which you want to work) and make contact with them. Even if you don't have a direct connection to a company, chances are a friend of a friend might know someone who can make an introduction for you, so don't be afraid to tap your networking skills.

Never underestimate the power of a good network. When you're looking for a job, or even after you've found one, keep in touch with former classmates, friends, business associates, people you met at seminars and workshops, and even your family! You just never know who might have some useful information, advice, a contact, or a hot tip that leads you to an opportunity. A thriving, up-to-date network is more powerful than the classified ads, the Internet, or the bulletin board at the community center.

The Internet is also a powerful job search tool. Hundreds of career-related websites are available, such as The Monster Board (www.monster.com), offering literally thousands of job listings. These listings are updated on an ongoing basis. Appendix C at the end of this book is a listing of career-related websites worth visiting.

Also on the Internet, newsgroups and mailing lists that cater to a specific interest or occupation can also be useful for finding job opportunities or networking with people currently working in your field. In addition, industry trade journals and newsletters along with industry-oriented trade shows provide opportunities to learn who's doing what in specific industries.

No matter how you make contact with a potential employer, you will have the greatest level of success if you receive a personal introduction or already know someone working for the company for which you want to work. If you do not know anyone at a prospective company, send a cover letter and your resume to a company's HR manager: After all, it is HR's job to find new, qualified candidates. You should find out the name of the HR manager to whom you plan to write; do not just send a letter with the salutation, "Dear HR Manager," because your letter and resume are more likely to be read if you address them to an actual person who is actually working for the company in which you are interested. You can usually find out the name of the HR manager by calling the company's receptionist or by visiting the company's website—most of which have a section on "jobs" or "contact us," with instructions on how to apply to that company. Sending an unsolicited letter to HR is perfectly acceptable when you are just beginning your career.

That said, however, it is not a good idea to send an unsolicited resume to a hiring manager, unless you know that person or have a mutual contact, or until you have had years of experience in an industry and would really be writing more as a professional colleague seeking a high-level position. The hiring manager's primary job is not to screen resumes—especially if he or she isn't looking to hire anyone—so if you send your resume to these people, at best, they will simply route your resume down to HR, and at worst, they may ignore or toss your resume altogether. Typical managers may receive 50–100 e-mails a day, numerous phone calls, and lots of other unsolicited mail—so if they get something from someone they do not know, they are not likely to pay attention to it, and many managers have confessed to simply deleting e-mail messages—without even reading them—if they don't recognize the sender's name. Do not let your resume be ignored! Instead, send it to the right person—the HR manager.

And again, it's always best to address your resume to a specific individual within the company. Once you know to whom you want to send your resume package, if you've spent the necessary time creating an impressive resume package and you're qualified for the job for which you're applying, your chances of being invited for an interview increase dramatically.

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