For those of us who’ve had to enter the digital grind that is applying for jobs in the 21st century, we know it ain’t easy. Spending hours every day carpet bombing your resume out to countless employers kind of tarnishes the allure of getting that college degree you worked so hard for. But hey, that’s the job market in this day and age: plenty of qualified people chomping at the bit to work are all gunning for jobs that are scarce. Don’t fret too much though; plenty of people (including me for a long time) don’t know the right techniques when delving into the job market. So take a break from CareerBuilder for a quick second and read these tips to improve your employment potential.
Resume & Cover Letter
This could be (and there are plenty online) an entire blog about tweaking your resume to the proper format with the right things to say, but the best advice boils down to catering your resume to the job you are looking for. I graduated with degrees in creative writing, film studies, and had a bit of experience in film production so I made three resumes that catered to this. For example, I wouldn’t put my old high school restaurant jobs on my writing resume, but I would for film production if I was looking to work on a film set because it showed I was used to working long hours and staying on my feet.
The cover letter should be the same way, but catered even more to the job you’re looking for. Try not to do the same copy and pasted block format for each job; it’s not like recruiters will reference each other to see if you’re being original but the inauthenticity of it will be obvious.
If you’re looking for advice on the format of your resume and what to put where, it’s a question of what you’re applying for. But no matter what the position is don’t be afraid to reach out for help. If you have family or friends in a position you aspire to reach, just ask them to email their resume to you so you can use the structure of it as a guideline.
Finally, and this is by no means applicable to everyone, but try to leave room for interesting things in your skills/qualifications section. For example, I’ve been improvising (theater made up on the spot, like in the show “Whose Line is it Anyway”) since middle school and I’ve had it on every resume I’ve used. It’s helped me think on my feet, make decisions under pressure, and improved my public speaking. To an employer it’s memorable, an icebreaker, and something people are always interested in if I make it to an interview. Always try to spin a hobby or passion you have to play up your skills as a worker and make you stand out.
It’s one thing mentioned during the orientation here at Quicken Loans, but have you ever Googled yourself? I never did for years because it creeped me out and I thought it was too vain. It’s not and your potential employers are doing it so you should too. For all you know, the top image could be an embarrassing party picture from high school, an unflattering comment someone left about you on Facebook, or that YouTube video of you covering “Firework.”
If this is the case, you have to do what you can to get that post taken down ASAP. This is a perfect reason to adjust your Facebook and Twitter privacy settings, because if you haven’t already there’s a good chance those are the first things that come up on a Google search of your name. Now maybe you’re of those good people who’ve never had a single embarrassing or incriminating photo of yourself put on Facebook or any other site, but I doubt it. A person with that luck is more rare than a unicorn. A simple change in Facebook will have pictures only available to your friends, make you unsearchable in the site’s search bar, and you can make yourself untaggable in photos. Even if you’re holier than the highest saint, I’d recommend applying these settings to cover yourself on all bases.
I don’t say this to discourage any readers, by every job I’ve had in my life I’ve gotten through knowing someone already working there. Despite that, I don’t subscribe to the whole “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” cliché. It’s a significant advantage, but just because I know The Rock doesn’t mean I’m built for wrestling. A certain amount of talent is needed to get hired for any position, but if you know someone at a company or in the field you’re pursuing then find a tactful way to pick their brain. How did they get hired? Is the field competitive? What kind of people are they looking for? Are you hiring? What is your company like? Are you hiring? What are talents desired in the position I’m looking for? ARE YOU HIRING?!
Like I said, be tactful and try not to come off as overbearing or desperate, especially if it’s someone you don’t know very well. If you’re shooting in the dark and don’t know anyone in your field, it doesn’t hurt to call around and ask for help. Contact a company or firm smaller than the one you want to apply to and ask what they like to see in an applicant. It may take a minute to find someone with time to spare but if that’s your only option, seize it.
For those of you who have been applying over and over to different places, trying not to end up in job that doesn’t reflect your talents, stay persistent. Use your failures in the job hunt as little motivators to improve on your previous mistakes for when you get the next interview. The opportunity you’re looking for is floating around somewhere in the job world and it’s all about staying sharp until it happens.
What tips and tricks do you have that might help others end their job hunt?