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You’ve found it! The perfect job. You are aptly qualified and anxious for the spot. You followed all the advice to make your resume shine. It’s just a matter of time before they read your credentials and beg you to come in, right? Probably not. Watch: 13 Lies People Tell In Interviews Where is your resume now? Most likely lost in the inbox or sitting on top of a desk, buried with possibly dozens of other polished descriptions of qualified candidates. The job market can be tough; you are well aware. Short of a magician’s trick to pull your resume out of the pile, how can you make sure your application gets read and, more importantly, noticed?

The Key

Real decisions are made by real people who need real impressions and connections. For you to get the job, or at least a chance to prove yourself in an interview, you need to positively differentiate yourself through personal connection to the ones with influence—aka the decision makers.

Sleuth Out The Identity Of The Decision Maker

For a successful approach, you need to be contacting the right person—the person who can actually make decisions to hire you. It’s not enough just to speak with or get your resume to someone in the company. If you impress someone who does not have decision-making power, your efforts may be in vain. Before you even email your resume or construct your cover letter, do your research. The company’s website and organizational chart are good places to start. If individual contact information is not available online, call the front office and ask questions. Then listen. It’s likely the gatekeeper (an administrative assistant or secretary) will open up about who is handling the hiring process and who has influence within the organization. You also want to find out the name of that person’s own assistant or gatekeeper.

Make Friends With The Gatekeeper

As you are conducting your research, realize that there are people within the organization who may have more influence than their official title lets on. A gatekeeper is someone who probably has more influence than you may think. Positively differentiating yourself to the decision maker’s gatekeeper can give you a definite advantage. To do that, begin by making friends with the gatekeeper: be kind and sincere when talking to him, make note of personal tidbits about him and recall them in future conversations, sincerely compliment him in an email to his boss (while copying him on the email), recognize and acknowledge his contributions to you and the company.

Personal Touch

If you can show the gatekeeper that she is someone that matters, most likely she will treat you like you matter as well, and that can translate into an interview and beyond. Send a thank you card after any interaction with the gatekeeper or decision maker (or both). By this I mean a real, tangible, in-the-mail thank you card. Non-electronic thank you cards/emails may seem like ancient relics, which is exactly why sending one can help you distinguish yourself. Also, make notes during each conversation you have with anyone in the company. Jot down any personal information that is brought up or even seemingly benign topics so you can mention them in future conversations, including the interview. By remembering and recalling details about them, you show you care and that they matter—once again setting yourself apart.

Email – But Don’t Leave It At That

Assume your initial email is as good as spam. Even if it is not, it may have been overlooked in the inbox crowded with similar emails. Don’t just sit around and wait to hear back. Use your email as a reason to call in and speak to the gatekeeper. Remember, email alone is weak. Email combined with follow up calls and thank you cards is strong and can eventually get you an appointment with the decision maker. Some applicants are afraid to follow up, worried it will make them appear pushy or desperate. However, I heard of one situation where the applicant called literally dozens of times. He eventually got the job because the decision maker knew he had persistence and perseverance, qualities employers value. Call and to follow up on the email and use the phone conversation as an opportunity to make friends with the gatekeeper. Find something you can sincerely compliment him on and then ask if you can resend the resume to his boss (the decision maker). In the second email, add a line with a sincere compliment about the gatekeeper. Chances are the email will be noticed now: the gatekeeper will make sure his boss sees it. With your email and resume being personally forwarded to the decision maker by someone close to him, you have pulled yourself out of the pile of applicants and are on your way to that treasured interview. This is a guest post.

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