Getting a job is tough. Trust me, I know. We tell a lot more people "no" than we do "yes". You see a job ad, and you become excited. You dust off the typewriter (yeah, right), and start writing your cover letter tailored for that specific position. You get 3 of your friends to look at your resume, and then click. Sometimes, a double click, just to make sure the document went through. Your application was sent. A few days go by… No problem. It was a holiday weekend. You’re thinking, “I’m sure the recruiter/employer is going through a lot of resumes.” Internal dialogue continues, “Did I cause ‘Bad Blood’ between us?? Why didn’t I get the call back? This was the perfect position for me!” Hopefully you aren’t talking to yourself, but we get it. You’re upset, and you don’t know why they decided to move forward with other applicants. In the rare case that you do get a rejection email, it doesn’t tell you what was wrong with your application.
I was at a conference a few years back, and we heard from an HR Director that’s been in the field for over 20 years speak about their hiring process. He said, “I’ll spend a MAX 5 seconds on new resumes that come across my desk.” If a column was out of line, or even the wrong font, he threw it in the garbage. The fact is, there’s a 1% chance you’ll get hired. Most people never get the chance to interview because you gave your potential employer a bad first impression. Let’s explore ways to help get that first phone call:
- Consider your personal brand. What’s on your social media? To protect yourself, make your account private, and have a flattering profile picture. You + friends at a bar = not a good first impression for a potential employer. The first thing your potential employer will do is Google/Yahoo/Bing your name. If your clothes, pictures, and/or writing is published on the web, they are going to find it. Be mindful of what you’re allowing the world to see.
- Tell me something good. We can read your resume. The cover letter really is a big deal, yet most people only brag about their resume experiences in their cover letter. We want to see how those experiences actually pertain to the position. If you worked at a bank for three years and obtained customer service experience, don’t put that exact language in your cover letter. Talk about specific examples you encountered during those three years, and explain why those experiences qualify you for the job. Having a specific amount of experience is boring and doesn’t tell your potential new employer a whole lot. If you have three years of experience in an area, tell us what you did.
- Tailor your application. We know you’re applying to other jobs, at least we hope so. Settling for one position is risky. It’s great to put your feelers out to multiple places, but for the sake of your professional future, rename the cover letter and resume document to the position you’re applying for. Don’t address your cover letter to the wrong company. It’s a trendy technique now to add a summary of qualifications to your resume. If you add that to your resume, make sure they line up with the job opening. Lastly, make sure and save every document as a .pdf. It’s the little things.
- Be different. Assume everyone wants the same job. You have to want it more. It comes down to the most qualified, sure, but if you aren’t excited about the position, then it doesn’t matter. Let’s brainstorm for a second: Send a courtesy follow-up email. Like and follow the company on social media. Connect with an employee that works at the company via Linkedin.
These are a few tips to help your application stand-out and show us why you are a worthy candidate. Being a part of the 1% is tough. You have to spend time on every application. As tedious as it may seem, it will pay off in the end. It did for me.