No matter how strong your skills or experience are, you won't land a new job without first securing an interview with a prospective employer. Job seekers often consider this step of the hiring process the most difficult -- and perplexing. After all, how many times have you considered your qualifications ideal for an open position only to never hear from the hiring manager about the resume and cover letter you submitted?
If you're looking for an edge, make sure you're not falling into these common traps:
1. You only focus on the Googles of the world.
Companies that continually grab headlines and are highly recognizable can be exciting places to work. But so are many companies you've never heard of. Keep in mind that organizations that are household names often receive thousands of résumés for each opening. Consider exploring opportunities with small and midsize companies. They make up the vast majority of businesses in the United States and sometimes have trouble locating qualified candidates. If Google is your dream employer, don't give up the good fight, but also keep your eyes and ears open to other opportunities.
2. You don't follow directions.
Each company has a different procedure it asks applicants to follow for submitting employment applications. Some ask that you use a form on their Web sites while others prefer traditional phone calls or faxes. Make sure you understand what the prospective employer seeks by carefully reading the job listing. Then, follow the directions to the letter. If you don't, your application may never reach the hiring manager.