Getting a job: How to rise to the top of the list

One of the biggest challenges of getting a job in the current climate is that the number of applicants for each job opening has increased dramatically. How can a job seeker get a foot in the door with so much competition? Let's take a look at this from the employers' point of view. The needs of employers are still the same as they have always been. They still want to hire someone with a temperament that fits into their team, who is dedicated and productive, and who will stay long enough to make the effort of hiring them pay off. The number of qualified applicants can be overwhelming to employers. They cannot interview everyone who is qualified, so they are faced with the difficult choice of figuring out who to interview. You can help employers decide to interview you by demonstrating that you have the qualities they need during the application process.

With the number of resumes the employer has to sift through and the fact that many resumes are now submitted online, it is unrealistic to think that you can convey your qualities through a resume, or even a cover letter. You need to find a way to make personal contact with the employer so as they pick out whom to interview they will put a face to the name and already have an idea of what assets you could bring to the job. Although the application process is usually very impersonal, there are always ways to make some contact. For example, if they ask for an online resume, there is usually a phone number to call for questions. Think of some relevant questions to ask about the job, then call and ask to speak to the person who can answer them. You could ask about what percentage of time would be spent on the tasks described in the job description, or a clarification of the qualities needed. This can turn into a dialogue on the skills you would bring to these tasks.

If the job announcement asks to mail in the resume, ask if you can hand deliver it "just to make sure it gets there." This contact may be as brief as a smile as you hand it in while introducing yourself, but it still may result in the employer spending more than the typical 10 seconds on your resume.

Always make sure that you are respectful of employers' time. If they are willing to answer a few of your questions, don't turn it into a half hour grilling of all the details of the job, or worse, a speech about how fantastic your are. You are only trying to be chosen for an interview, it is the interview where you have the opportunity to get the job.

Karen Bolda, M.A., is a meeting facilitator and professional development trainer. She's lived in Ashland for 13 years where she operates her own consulting business. She has an upcoming workshop "Getting a Job" April 25, 1 to 3 at the Ashland Library. Contact her at 890-1883, or

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