3 Simple Tips for Blazing Ahead of Other Job Candidates
By LaShina Mack
Draft a Customized Cover Letter.
According to CareerBuilder, a major pitfall for 45% of job seekers is not including a cover letter. For some, even in 2019, cover letters are still taboo. The problem with that is your resume will only do so much. Your resume serves as a pre-qualifier, while your cover letter serves as your introduction. Cover letters help to influence recruiters or hiring managers, one way or the other, to determine if they actually want to meet with you face-to-face.
We have encountered so many clients that informed us of the positive impressions their cover letters had on employers, and how they had a direct impact on hiring decisions. Cover letters DO matter. Ignore the naysayers! The cover letter and resume are the Bonnie and Clyde of the job search landscape. One without the other would have nowhere near the amount of traction that a consolidated duo could accomplish.
Don't just complete a cover letter to fill a requirement. Make it engaging in such a way to get the reader excited about meeting you. Submitting a dry, boring cover letter is worse than not providing one at all. So do your due diligence by actually putting some real effort into the letter. This will place you miles ahead of your competitors.
Optimize your Resume to the Targeted Role.
The resume is no longer a one-size-fits-all concept. Especially, if you are targeting a field that you have never worked in. Yes, there are tons of skills that are transferable enough for just about any role, however, are they properly presented on your resume? Do you have any stand-out skills or mandatory qualifications listed anywhere on your resume? Will the company automatically know you are qualified based on your resume or do they have to guess? If they have to guess, you've already lost that battle.
Carefully read the job description and do a cross-comparison with your resume. Does your resume give the impression that you are a great fit for that particular role? Do you fit ALL of the job requirements? How about the preferences? Did you highlight your strengths that are relevant to the role? All of these key points are vital to the optimization of your resume.
Why does this matter? According to a survey conducted by Payscale, up to 22 million workers in the U.S. are underemployed. The impact of these figures can be detrimental to the working class. Think of it this way. Let’s say you are applying for a role that you would be a shoo-in for because you checked all of the boxes, in addition to the employer preferences. Then you discover who you are up against - individuals with graduate-level degrees, 10 years MORE experience than you have, and successful backgrounds at well-known, Fortune 500 firms.
Now, the struggle is real. This is more common that you think. Your more experienced colleagues or even former bosses are now going for the same jobs that you are going for. That was not the case in the past, but due to the current underemployment rates, these incidents are becoming the norm.
Follow Up or Fall Off.
If you don’t have a follow up process, you’re already behind. You need to follow up like your life depends on it. Some recruiters or hiring managers might think you don’t care too much about the role if you don’t follow up with them. Stop thinking that they don’t want to be bothered. Do they get annoyed when people “harass” them, sure. However, a professional follow up is not harassment. Not to mention that you can be creative when you do decide to follow up.
Keep it fresh. A little dialogue to jog the memory of the recruiter about who you are (because they might not remember you) will help. This will vary depending on if you already interviewed for the role or not. Don’t forget to reiterate why you believe you would be a good fit for the role. Try not to get overly wordy either. You can also mention a recent accomplishment the company made and congratulate them on that, while simultaneously following up on the position.
Understand that recruiters are not required to respond to follow up emails, so make it good. Be warm and friendly, yet keep it professional. Attach your cover letter or resume (yes they already have it, but do it anyway) to the email so they won’t have to dig for your documents. The suitability of this step will also depend on whether or not they are using a good applicant tracking system. Either way, you still want to make their job easier.
Follow these simple tips to raise your game and make yourself an in-demand candidate among the masses. It all boils down to developing a system for yourself and sticking to it. Put in the effort that others refuse to. That alone will make you stand out and above the rest. Happy hunting!
About the Author
LaShina Mack is the Founder of Resume Renewed and Premier Marketing Experts, LLC. She specializes in marketing, brand management, and career development services. In the corporate world, she has a diverse background working for reputable Fortune 500 organizations in the areas of retail, customer service, B2B, and government accounts. LaShina had been writing resumes as a freelancer for 15+ years prior to her company's launch in 2016. She has strong background in content development, online marketing, resume writing, creative design, campaign management, business consulting, and client acquisition. Feel free to follow or reach out to LaShina on Instagram or LinkedIn.