How do I improve my chances of being contacted?

By Colleen Sabatino, The Intern Coach

How frustrating to send your resume for an internship and never receive any response—not even an acknowledgement that it was received? Unfortunately, you’re not alone. Too many Human Resources (HR) departments have been downsized recently, and the remaining employees are burdened with more work than they can manage. They often receive hundreds of resumes for one internship position, which means the numbers are too overwhelming to send rejection notices. Here’s how to stimulate a response:

  1. Send your resume to the head of the department that is looking for an intern, as well as to the HR person. It’s always easier for a resume to travel down the employment chain rather than up. If you’ve read about some company executive who has received an honor or achieved a specific success, you could send your resume and a cover letter noting that person’s accomplishment and your desire to have an internship in such a fine organization.
  2. Write a cover letter with your resume, stating that you will be calling that person to find out the next step in the internship process rather than waiting for a phone call. Being proactive shows respect for a busy person and demonstrates your enthusiasm for the internship. Then proceed to make your call a few days after you send your resume.
  3. Ensure that your resume contains key words that relate to the internship description. If the prospective company scans resumes for key words, you want to be sure that your resume has them all. Study the wording in the requirements and internship description listed in the posting and use as many of them as possible in your resume and cover letter.
  4. Follow up. Make a phone call or send an email to the HR department and the department head, asking if your resume was received. Always restate your interest in the internship. You may want to ask a professor or career center to follow-up for you, too.
  5. Apply for multiple internships rather than only one, giving yourself options in case the internship you really want doesn’t materialize. If a company doesn’t bother to respond at all, it may not be the best environment for you to do an internship.