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I've been applying for jobs since September and have not been called for a single interview. I've taken my resume to Career Services for a review and some tips, but still nothing. How can I make my resume stand out in a crowd? -- Lauren, Philadelphia
LINDSEY SAYS: Lauren, thanks for the question. You've taken the right first step, which is having an expert -- in your case, career services -- review your resume and make sure it's the best it can be. However, having a good resume is not enough these days. Employers are being bombarded with resumes, so the real way to stand out is to promote yourself beyond sending in a resume. You have to go the extra mile to get noticed.
Depending on your situation and the types of jobs you're applying for, here are some suggestions:
Try to find a personal connection to the companies you want to work for. Talk to everyone you know -- friends, family, former colleagues, former classmates, neighbors, etc. -- to ask whether they know anyone at your target companies and would be willing to make an introduction. This is the absolute, no-doubt-about-it, very best way to catch the eye of a recruiter or hiring manager: to have your resume hand delivered to that person by a fellow employee. Don't be afraid to ask people to help you get a job -- this is the way business is done and you'll make your contact look good for recommending you when you turn out to be a fantastic employee.
Hand-deliver if you can. If you're applying for a position in a retail store, restaurant, local bank, child-care center or other employer with a physical location, try hand-delivering your resume and engaging a staff person in conversation about why you'd be a good employee. Making an in-person impression means a lot, especially when you're applying for a customer-facing job.
Reach out. If you're applying to a higher-level position, try reaching out to a recruiter, HR person or other decision maker via LinkedIn.com. Most employers I speak with are happy to connect with potential candidates on LinkedIn. Make sure your profile is grammatically correct, contains key words that will stand out to the employer, has a few impressive recommendations of your work and shows that you are a member of some industry-related groups. Once you've connected with some recruiters, stay on their radar screens by posting intelligent comments to group discussions, sharing interesting industry articles and/or answering relevant questions in the "Answers" area.
Make sure the job's right for you. If you're still not seeing results after trying the above strategies, consider whether you are applying for positions that are really a good fit for your skills and experience. You may be reaching too high or too low. Or, in this economy, you may be focusing your job search on an industry that is doing poorly, such as financial services. Check back with your career services office or talk with trusted professionals to see if you need to redirect your job search to a different industry, location or experience level.
A prospective employer has asked my son to give an acceptable salary range on a job application. How does he find out what the appropriate range should be for an entry-level job as an acoustical engineer with a master's degree? -- MP, Riverhead, N.Y.
Ah, yes. That thorny issue of providing an acceptable salary range. The truth is that salary ranges vary widely based on one's industry, geographical location and experience level. Current salaries in many fields are also being affected by the downturn in the economy. To figure out the right answer in your area, you must research, research, research.
The absolute, very best way for your son to find out the appropriate salary range for the job he wants is to find a trusted person in his field who will share some inside information. He can find this person by asking for referrals from his personal network (perhaps, as his mom, you know someone experienced in the field), requesting a referral from his college's career services office to a recent alum in a similar job or becoming involved with a professional trade association where he may get some mentoring and advice.
If the personal approach fails, he can also turn to the Internet for some guidance. Your son can explore salary information on Salary.com or post a request for salary info on the new Web site GlassDoor.com. Just remember that information found on the Web is generally not as accurate as information from a trusted face-to-face source.
Finally, keep in mind that salary is just one piece (albeit a big one) of the compensation picture. Your son should also do some research on standard benefits packages and other nonmonetary compensation (e.g., flexible working hours, education reimbursement, a company-supplied cell phone or BlackBerry) that might be available.
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