The job search can be daunting. With so many people applying for positions, how do you make yourself stand out? It starts with the cover letter and resume. Below I’ve listed a few of the most helpful tips I’ve ever received to help you land the job of your dreams.
1. Keep your cover letter short and sweet.
I once read that the average hiring manager takes about 30 seconds or less to scan your cover letter before even deciding whether or not to look at your resume. For this reason, your cover letter should be short and to the point; use no more than 200 or so words. Highlight the skills that you possess that match what the company is looking for. Make sure to include your name and the position you’re applying for. Let the company know the skills you can offer them and then finish off with something positive, like “I look forward to interviewing with you soon.”
2. Include why your skills would benefit the company.
Too often in the cover letter applicants mention that the job they’re seeking would be a good fit for them because of x, y, and z. I’ve read that this is a turn off for the company, as the person in charge of hiring wants to see how your skills would better the company. If your cover letter, be sure to emphasize how skill x, y, and z would allow the company to grow.
3. On your resume, list only the skills that apply to the job.
It’s awesome that you were a lifeguard or camp counselor for summer, but will that help you land a job as a marketing assistant at your dream firm? Perhaps not if you simply list your position title and the years you worked as a lifeguard; however, think about the skills you acquired while lifeguarding all those summers. Were you responsible for overseeing a handful or more of children at one time? Did you write weekly reports to update parents on their children’s progress? Looking at past jobs in a new light will help you realize that summer job wasn’t for naught!
4. Understand that the process takes time.
I mean this in two ways: one, be patient (I waited 11 days between the time I applied for a job and when I got a phone interview) and two, take the time to work on your cover letter and resume. Understand that you’ll need to tweak your resume for each job you apply for. Try not to send out a generic resume, as this inevitably makes your cover letter/resume less personal to the company.
5. Follow up!
Many of the internships or opportunities I received came only when I followed up on my initial application. The follow-up email or phone call should be polite. A follow-up email can even include the original email for convenience.