In last week’s Filling Your Wallet post, I promised that I would show you the trick to landing a job. It’s not as simple as put on a smile, though I wish it was. The first step is getting a foot in the door and getting noticed.
Sadly, you can’t just show up at your favorite company and ask for an interview. You need to submit a job application.
Learn from my mistake: I recently received an email from a company in Fort Wayne, Indiana explaining that most employers don’t hold on to your resume for future job openings. Find open jobs in your field, and apply to those instead.
When applying for jobs, it’s tempting to throw your standard resume out to a thousand companies on one of the job posting sites, like Jobs, CareerBuilder, or Indeed. Nine times out of ten, your resume will be thrown out. Instead start by looking at 10 companies’ websites. Notice what the goal of each company is, and research what kind of language and buzz words they use. By using their lingo in your application, employers can visualize you as a part of their company.
Once you locate companies you want to apply to, open their Employment Opportunities or Careers links. Find one to three jobs that you want to apply for in each company. Then, tailor your resume to each job. Employers look through thousands of letters to find the perfect applicants, so keep both your letter and your resume to one page. Use their words to get to the top of the pile. Some companies even have digital programs that search for key words from their job descriptions. The more you match what they want, the more valuable you will be.
When writing your resume or cover letter, be specific, honest, personal, and concise. Use quantifiable information for previous experience, e.g. “Helped 30 families overcome depression after property loss.” Don’t round numbers up or stretch the truth. It tends to surface in an interview. Please, please, please don’t use “To whom it may concern” on a cover letter or email. Do some investigating to address it to a specific manager. Can’t find the appropriate manager’s name? Address it to hiring managers or to HR. Look over your letters for errors and long sentences. Clear and clean resumes and cover letters make it to the top.
Clean up your online profiles. Once you start applying for jobs, remember that interested employers will look at any information they can find about you online. That includes dating profiles, Christmas party photos, Pinterest accounts, etc. If you don’t want them to see it, take it down.
Finally, don’t forget to thank hiring managers for looking at your resume. This helps you appear courteous and respectful of their decision. Also feel free to include something like, “I eagerly await your response.”
That’s a lot of information on resumes and cover letters. Because it can seem overwhelming, here is a resume and a cover letter checklist so your resume can have the best chance at boosting you toward an interview.
- Professional header area
- Contact information one of first things seen (easily accessible)
- Keywords from job description
- Simple, clean font
- Clear divisions of sections
- References available upon request
- Only text (No photos)
- Submit as PDF document
- MUST include sections
- Contact information
- Other section options
- Volunteer/Community Involvement
- Internships (if you want to separate from experience)
- Relevant special training
- Same header and font style as resume
- Include the date written
- Personally address the employer
- State position applying for
- Focus on them and how you could help them
- Refer to resume topics
- Reference if you’ve spoken to anyone in the company before
- Sign it
Looking for more tips on filling out the perfect application? Look no further! Check out these great articles that will help you land the job you want: If you are filling out job applications, should you set a limit to how many you fill out daily-weekly? Why/why not? (Quora), The Nine Best Tips for Submitting an Online Job Application (U.S. News), Eight Surprising Rules That Will Get You the Job (Forbes), 7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Your Job Search (Forbes), A Job-Seeker’s Guide to Successfully Completing Job Applications (Quintessential).
Last week I also challenged you to look into the mirror, examine yourself, and decide who you are. I realized this week that I hadn’t done that for myself yet. So here’s my Who Am I? profile that I will use to look at jobs. I’d love to see yours!