You have found your dream job. You spend hours making sure your resume is up-to-date. You carefully craft your cover letter. You submit your writing samples and references. You wait. And you hear…nothing. Job hunting can be an incredibly challenging and daunting process, with a lot of unanswered applications and not a lot of hope. As I have shared before, I read a lot of cover letters and resumes, and are are my top five tips to improve your resume and cover letter to increase your chances of landing the interview.
- Show, Don’t Tell: It can be tempting to repeat what the job description says in your cover letter, because you want to show how perfectly your credentials match the job requirements. Don’t forget-they already know the job description and what they are looking for. Don’t waste precious word space telling them what the job is. Spend that time showing them the experiences you have had that line up with what they are looking for.
- You are not the ‘perfect’ candidate: “I am the perfect candidate for this job because…”. Stop right there! There is no such thing as a perfect candidate. And you can’t really be the judge as to whether you are the ‘best’ candidate either. As tempting as it is to say you are perfect for it, don’t. Again, show them why you’re going to do a great job, and they’ll see what a great candidate you are.
- Don’t Forget the Details: This is an obvious one, but make sure to double check details. Is your resume perfectly formatted and consistent? Does your cover letter include your email address and phone number at the end? Did you use the right company name?! Details matter. It might feel like you are churning out application after application, but if you don’t take a step back to look at the details, you might as well not apply. Better yet, find a trusted friend or mentor to take a look and provide feedback.
- Be Honest: Don’t make things up. It is important to show the best version of yourself, but you don’t want to lie. They will find out in the interview or through a reference, so make sure that you stay honest from the start. You are awesome just the way you are, so show them.
- Ask Yourself Why: Why are you applying for this job? Take at least 10 minutes before starting a job application to write down the reasons that the job is right for you. The story behind your application is extremely important, and you do need to take a step back in order to bring it to the surface and write with conviction.
Job hunting can be hard, but I truly believe that each and every one of us can find a meaningful career, it just takes some work. Use and build upon these steps to begin to work towards the job of your dreams!