Things used to be a lot simpler. You could stroll into an office, resume in hand, and plop yourself down in front of the boss with a dapper pin-striped suit and winning smile.

A well-timed quip about the weather, the slightest hint of earnest determination, and they gave you the keys to the building. Alas, the days of the winning smile are gone. Welcome to the new employment landscape—take a number.

Craigslist is a microcosm of this new trend.

Postings are often listed without any real company information or contact information—they provide you only with a nonsensical string of numbers that you are required to send your resume to. Sometimes it feels as futile as putting your resume in a bottle and throwing it in the lake.  Actually, that’s not fair to the lake.

So why is no one hiring you? Not just from Craigslist, but from any of these new automated systems that just don’t get weather jokes? Because you haven’t adapted yet. But fear not—we at Resume Target have compiled the four steps you need to combat internet anonymity.

Read on, intrepid candidate, it’s time to venture into a brave new world.

Step One: First Impressions are King.

You knew that. That’s why you used to put on that dapper suit. But here’s what people tend to overlook: now your e-mail is your suit. The vast majority of resumes and cover letters are never even opened. Why? Because the e-mail didn’t say anything.

To Whom It May Concern is a bad start. This isn’t a memorandum on world peace. You know who it concerns: the Hiring Manager. Address it to them. Don’t just tell them you want the job—they know that already. Tell them why they should hire you.

Pull out the achievements and value statements from your cover letter and resume and put them in your e-mail. Tell them who you are, the most impressive things you've done, and even more importantly, what you can do for them.

Always treat it like the Hiring Manager may only read your e-mail. But DO NOT copy and paste your entire resume and cover letter into the body and send it off; a busy hiring manager will probably take one look, sigh deeply, delete it, and go for a coffee.

Step Two: Bring the Smile Back.

Here is a simple truth: everyone likes to put a face to a name. Just because a hiring manager can’t interview everyone in person doesn’t mean they’re not a little curious about what you look like—it's human nature. Enter LinkedIn.

Attaching a photo of yourself to an e-mail is tantamount to throwing your own resume in the garbage. It’s unprofessional and puts the hiring manager in a tough position. But LinkedIn is perfectly acceptable. Put your LinkedIn URL on your resume, or better yet, hyperlink your name.

It’s not a question of beauty or brawn or anything else—they just like to see the person they’re reading about.

Step Three: Make Sure Your Resume Doesn’t Suck.

In the good old days, when you handed a resume over in person, it was possible to overcome a sub-par resume. Not anymore. Your resume and cover letter have to speak for you.

They have to tell a potential employer what you’ve done, and more importantly, what you’re going to do for them. You need a value statement, a list of core skills, and job descriptions that don’t sound like you stole them from the original posting for your role.

You need to convey your achievements and added value and tell them why they shouldn’t throw your bottle back in the lake. If you don’t know how to write one, get professional assistance. A little money now might lead to a lot more money in the future.

Step Four: The Follow-up

Ah, the follow-up. Some abstain from it completely; others treat it like the hiring manager owes them money. Moderation is key.

Send an e-mail a few days after your initial submission inquiring about the process and restating your interest in the role (something many people forget to do). After that, wait a full week before inquiring again.

Some follow-up is a very good thing; too much is bad. Nobody likes to be pestered, and when you have a whole lot of candidates to choose from, it’s easy to accidentally delete one of them, even if they’re qualified.

If you receive no response from your follow-ups, it’s time to try again. But take heart—those ads are posted for a reason. People are being hired. You just have to follow these steps and make sure the next number to be called is yours.

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