So you want to apply for that cool new job you saw online today. You want it really badly, right? Well, first you have to get the interview. Here are some things you need to check before you hit the send button, or else your application will end up in the trash.
Make it short and sweet.
Don’t fluff up your job descriptions with whole sentences as to how you were a liaison to so-and-so and consulted for such-and-such. Words like “liaison,” “filing,” and “communication” tell us that you’re trying to cover for having done very little work.
If you answered phones for a living, write that you “answered phones,” don’t say you worked “Advanced Customer Service”. When you write “supervised three employees” or “designed advertisements” we know exactly what that means.
Less is more.
Unless you’ve been in the work force for many (read 15 or more) years, your resumé should only be one page long. I’ve received a number of multi-page resumés from people applying for jobs, and I have to tell you, I only skim them. Whereas I’m more likely to read every word on a one-page resumé.
Make it pretty.
Take the time to make your resumé stand out. If you’re a graphic designer, you better bet I’m looking for a smartly designed resumé as well! I want it to be pretty. If you want to work in my art department, you have to work hard to show me what you can do before you even get the interview. I’m not saying that if it’s just a standard resumé you won’t get the interview, but others who took the time will rise to the top of the list.
Objective: I want this job.
Yes, we know that your objective is to get this job. You don’t need to tell us that.
Chek yur speeling.
Please use spell check. It takes two seconds. Don’t forget to spell check your cover letter as well. It doesn’t matter what job you’re applying for. It doesn’t matter if you’re not going to do any writing at all or if you’ll have editors going over your work. When I get an application in my inbox and there are typos, it goes straight in the trash. Wait, what? You ask. You don’t even look at the resumé?! That’s right. I don’t. You could have been the perfect candidate. But when a job requires attention to detail, that applies to your cover letter.
Typos aside, one of my biggest pet peeves is being referred to as a man in a cover letter. I find it offensive (and very little offends me). I can’t tell you how many resumés I threw directly in the trash after reading the first three words of the cover letter. I’m deadly serious on this one.
When the job posting says to contact “Stephanie Lewis,” I expect to be referred to as “Ms.” or “Mrs.” One applicant started his cover letter with “dear sir” and continued on, rather carelessly, referring to me as a man. If you don’t know for sure that you are writing to a man or a woman, address your cover letter to “to whom it may concern” or “dear sir or madam.” It may sound old fashioned and it may make you feel a little awkward, but believe me, on the other end, a “dear sir or madam” is not in any way out of the ordinary.
Write your own resumé!
Or if someone else writes it for you, make sure you know what’s in it, backwards and forwards. Or better still, go back in and reword descriptions in your own voice. I will freely admit that I have my husband help me with my resumé. If I get stuck, he’ll take over and have me describe (albeit haltingly) what I did at a certain job and make it sound like a coherent person wrote it. Hey, we all get flustered and nervous, especially when there’s a job we really want. But I promise you that after my husband is done, I go back and rework things to sound more like me. That way I know exactly what’s there and when I get to the interview, I’m not left stammering and stuttering when I have to confirm what is written.
This can be a tricky one. Usually you know what is expected of you with software. If you’re a graphic designer, you should know Photoshop and InDesign like the back of your hand. But what if they list Excel or PowerPoint? You may not be able to tell from the job listing what exactly is expected of you. Speaking from personal experience, I always thought I was horrible at Adobe Illustrator until I had to take a test at a placement company where I scored an A+. I was shocked. I completely underestimated myself. However, when I hire someone because they say they’re capable of using the office suite and they sit in front of a computer and ask “what is this (the computer)?” well, that person isn’t staying long. (True story!)
Yes, we really do look at your Facebook profile.
Before I bring anyone into an interview, I google them. I look at their Facebook and MySpace profiles. Once, when we were looking for an editor and though we found a good candidate, we sat down and googled him. As it turned out he was all over the internet, topless and labeled as a home wrecker. We threw his resumé away.
Another person had listed himself on MySpace as a convicted felon just so he could look “cool.” Seriously people, make your Facebook and MySpace profiles private! You can say all the stupid stuff you want and we’ll never see it! Unless you have a blog we can get to … that’s a whole different story. Just take care of your web presence. You are what you tweet.
So you got the interview, huh? Good for you!
Don’t let down your guard yet.
Aside from dressing the part, (make sure you take the tags off of your new suit), minding your manners, sitting up straight, and relaxing (not too much!) there are some very important things to remember:
Don’t say you’ve completed a master’s degree if you’re still in the program. I don’t care if you’re only one class away. You never know what could happen between now and then!
Just, well, don’t be an idiot.
Someone I know interviewed a person who had gotten a speeding ticket on the way to the interview. He wanted to know who was going to reimburse him for the ticket.
We’re not hiring you because we’re bored. We’re hiring you because we have a problem that needs fixing. And we want to do it as fast as we can so we can get back to work. Can you solve our problems without giving us new problems? Sell yourself as being able to solve our problems. Ultimately, we don’t care what your career goals are. We just want to get back to work doing what we do best and put the interview process behind us.
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