Persistence Pays Off

The job market is gradually improving. With the improvement in business conditions, companies’ hiring needs may have changed. Thus it may be worthwhile to resend your résumé to companies that previously ignored it months or even years ago. The hiring manager who worked for the firm a year or more ago may do so no longer. Indeed, many companies have experienced great turnover and there may not be much institutional memory left according to New York City career coach Roy Cohen. Moreover, even if the right fit still isn’t there on your second try, don’t rule out a third.

If you do apply again, Annie Stevens, managing partner at Boston-based executive coaching firm ClearRock, a Boston-based coaching and outplacement firm, suggests five strategies to present yourself to the employer.

Emphasize what’s different about you now

When applying to a company again, emphasize what is new and different about you since your previous application. You might look at your previous application and determine if you need to streamline the new one to be more job specific if the position(s) you are applying for are different than your last application.  This is especially important if you end up meeting with the same interviewers you met with last time. In all your interactions highlight specific new experiences and skills gained since applying the first time.

If you are in school, you can emphasize new courses taken and the benefits they provide relative to each employer you contact. Graduate students and post-docs can also emphasize progress they’ve made in their research. Unemployed chemists can discuss short courses they’ve taken and professional society activities that bolstered their communication and management skills.

Try reverse networking

Reverse networking means starting with the job description and finding people who can help you get it. For example, company insiders can lead you to people who can help you get the job and tell you what aspects of your experience to stress on your résumé and in interviews. Industry experts can also provide useful advice on the most important skills to develop and emphasize in your job applications. Often it is not the most senior people who provide the best advice in this area but younger individuals who got their jobs in the last several years.

Join the same professional or volunteer groups as the hiring manager

Attend events where you might run into this person and other company employees. These organizations can provide a relaxed way to get to know each other better.

Stay in touch with people you meet

Use social sites such as LinkedIn™ to stay in touch with people you met during your previous application processes at each firm. Join groups within LinkedIn™ which are likely to interest hiring managers at your target employers. Share news that adds new dimensions to your qualifications. This means sharing information with employees of the company, updating your LinkedIn™ profile and posting notes about your new accomplishments on social media sites such as Facebook™ or Twitter™.

Participate constructively in on-line discussions but do not be aggressively self-promotional or overly critical of others. For example, when I was asked recently about a job candidate who mentioned my name I did not praise him but also did not note that he harshly criticized others “flaming” them in on-line discussions. Employers searching for the individual’s name online can discover this for themselves.

You can use e-mail to inform some of your contacts about interesting research papers or industry news they may have missed. Even if they are already aware of the information you provide, they often appreciate you thinking of them and sending it. This contributes to a good impression conveying an image of congeniality. You are perceived as a helpful coworker should they hire you later.

Be persistent but not so aggressive you become annoying. By providing people with information, you have an ostensible reason to contact them besides reminding these individuals that you are job hunting.

John Borchardt is a chemist and freelance writer who has been an ACS career consultant for 15 years. He is the author of the ACS/Oxford University Press Book “Career Management for Scientists and Engineers.” He has had more than 1200 articles published in a variety of magazines, newspapers and encyclopedias. As an industrial chemist, he holds 30 U.S. and more than 125 international patents and is the author of more than 130 peer-reviewed papers. As an ACS Councilor, he serves on the Joint Board – Council Committee Patents and Related Matters.


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