Personal Finance

Job searching? It takes more than a good resume

Sell yourself, not your resume

Trying to find a job can be frustrating, especially when you're just starting out. It's not unusual to send out resume after resume and go on interviews, then not get an offer. We spoke with Molly Fletcher, CEO of an eponymous professional training and coaching company and author of "The 5 Best Tools to Find Your Dream Career," on how to nail the job.

She suggests these three additional steps to stand out from the pack.

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Share specific examples. Anybody can go to an interview and talk about how perfect they are for the role and how much they want the job. When you're competing with a group of candidates, all of whom are very qualified, sharing examples of specific experiences you've had that relate to the role at the company will give you an edge. "Instead of saying 'I work really hard' or 'I'm really passionate' ... identify real life stories about things in your life that you've done that are examples of that," said Fletcher.

This helps to reinforce the attributes that you've listed on your resume or cover letter, and provides evidence of how you've applied those skills that allows a recruiter to envision how they could apply directly to the job. It also allows an interviewer to connect with you personally rather than relying on your resume. After all, as Fletcher notes, they are hiring you ... not a sheet of paper.

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Ask for advice from those doing what you want to do. Identify what you want in a job. Figure out what companies you might want to work for, and target people in positions that are attractive to you. Send them a message through LinkedIn, asking if they have time for coffee or a quick call to find out more about what they do. (Mentioning any mutual connections you have can help.) "You're going to get a lot of noes but you'd be surprised at how much people like talking about themselves and would meet with you," said Fletcher. If you meet with them, be curious and really listen.

"When you reach out to those people and ask for advice," said Fletcher, "you may actually end up with a job."

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Listen for entry points and close the deal. An interview is just one step in landing the job, said Fletcher. Following up is key. Listen for "gaps" in the interviewer's work world, and figure out how you can help fill them, she said. In other words: How can you help ease your potential boss' workload or use your skills to help solve a challenge he or she is facing?

Going the extra mile and writing a handwritten note also shows that you genuinely care about the role and the people you met. In a competitive job market like this one, you can't rely on your resume to speak for you, said Fletcher. The more you can do to stand out from the pack, the better your chances of landing the job.