This post is Part 5 in our 7 part series on how to manage your job search.

Congratulations you’ve probably done a lot of work to get this far and now you have contact with the hiring manager within the company. In Star Trek, Captain Kirk often wandered onto a new planet without finding out much about the aliens that lived there. Kinda saying, “Hi, I’m from Earth, you’ll LOVE me!”. Well, that might have worked for him but it probably won’t work for you. Assuming you are going to talk to this company about a role then you’d better do your homework on the company and the people you are going to meet. Arguably this stage and the next (the interview) are where you need to put in the most effort.

Now that you’ve got the introduction to the hiring manager you need to put your best foot forward and to do so you need to present yourself as the perfect candidate (without making things up). You need to work the network that got you into the role in the first place in a very short period of time so that you can alter your resume and cover letter to fit the role and company. Speak with those that introduced you to the company, speak with others that you know at the company or people who used to work there to get a better understanding of the company, the individuals and more specifics on the role. Most job descriptions are not written very well and there is always more information about the role that is pertinent to your application than can be explained in the job description. This is what you are searching for – the information that once highlighted in your resume or cover letter makes the hiring manager sit up and take notice. For some great advice on resumes and more generally on job searching, check out these bloggers: Susan Ireland and Alison Doyle.

It is our opinion that you need to customize your resume and cover letter for every role. You should maintain a standard resume for the major job roles that you are applying for i.e. a version for all of the project manager roles and a version for all of the copywriter roles. Then when applying for a role you customize your application (cover letter and resume) with details that highlight your skills/experience for the role even if that means changing just a few words or a sentence or two. In other words, you need to make the resume fit the job description and bring out information that address the must haves in the job description or that you have found in your research. Now that you have a better understanding of the company and the role than anyone else in the application process (based on the homework you’ve done) – you now must use that advantage to move your application to the top. This background knowledge also serves as a great basis for the research you need to do when you move through to the next stage, the interview.

Let’s not forget that warm introduction we talked about in the last segment (Approach) – now you hand your resume and cover letter to your contact at the company and ask them to give it to the hiring manager. Of course, if you can also ask your contact to recommend you that’s even better. But either way, it is your responsibility to convince the hiring manager that you are the person for the job once they see your application.

So unlike Captain Kirk, who had more than his share of unpleasant experiences with alien species – you can increase you chances of a positive response to your application by doing a small amount of additional work.

Step 6: Interview – be prepared!

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