Recently at work I was part of a hiring committee reviewing job applications for two separate position openings at my place of employment. And….wow….is it ever interesting to be on the other side of the process. So here are some tips to present yourself on paper best.
First, remember that you are trying to impress your potential employer….not the other way around. If there are specific hiring instructions, FOLLOW THEM! You need to make it easy for that hiring committee to process your application….plus it is also a good idea to show that you can follow simple directions. If you have to make a hiring committee work to review your items, you won't get an interview. So, don't send an updated resume after you have already submitted one….. why? Cause we all know now that you didn't really put your full effort in on the first one, you should have revised first then sent, not send then revise. If the instructions say to apply for jobs individually, don't send an email asking for your resume to be applied to all open positions- we aren't your secretary. And don't send in a resume for a position that another agency is hiring for…..you look stupid. And no, I'm not going to pass it on….I'm drawing a bitch line there.
Second, typos, typos, TYPOS! Spell check is amazing. USE IT! Also, please review what you are writing. I understand that you may be applying for a bunch of jobs…..but things like applying to my agency but in your cover letter saying that you want a job with the United Way, doesn't help your case. We are not a gateway to your dream job with the United Way….we have nothing to do with the United Way…and why aren't you applying directly to them in the first place? Also, please spell the name of the agency you are applying to correctly.
Third, personalize your cover letter and resume! I don't need to read about every job you have ever held if it is not relevant to the position at hand. I want to hear more about your job or volunteer experience that relates to my field rather than the fact that you worked at a coffee shop in your teens. It also shows that you took the time to think about the position you are applying for. SHOW ME THAT YOU CARE about what you are applying for by taking a little bit of extra time on your application. We had several people who applied for our two -very different- position openings with the exact same cover letter and resume. It gets noticed. It does. Especially when on your cover letter you don't even bother to change the title of the job you are applying between one application to the other.
Fourth, GET A THESAURUS! Read it, use it, become friends with it, make mad passionate love to it and then marry it if you need to make an honest woman of it later…..cause if I have to read one more application that says the person has a "passion for" or is "passionate" about something, I might scream.
Fifth, we know when you are full of bullshit….so knock it off already. Buzz words will kill you, especially if you don't know how to use them correctly. Cultural competency is thrown around a lot, it is a goal that one seeks….but no one ever achieves it. So don't tell me that you are "culturally competent" about the universe in general. If the job sounds like it has a specific focus...say...like Prevention, and the position announcements asks for someone to be knowledgeable about primary prevention strategies and current research.....that actually means something a little bit more than you saying you are qualified because you think sexual violence is bad. It is a real thing we are referencing. If you don't know what it is....don't say that you do and then try to cover it up. And sentences like this describing your objective in employment: "Professional individual seeking to join a team committed to the highest quality legal service through personal integrity and dedication to its' clients exceeding their expectations". What the fuck does that mean? Or items like this: "After reading about the highest quality of exceptional service provided by [My agency] to its' clients, I am confident that I will add to the committed and dedicated team with my broad range of skills". Yeah….we all know that you are using some silly template that you found on the internet somewhere.
So what should you do?
Our agency wants to hire a real person. Someone who is honest, attentive, and yes….perhaps even a little quirky....they will fit in better here that way. You can still be yourself and impress a potential employer. Write me a cover letter that talks about the work you have done and how you feel about the world you are applying to, and then make sure that your resume is consistent with your cover letter. Show me that you care by doing more than just attaching a document to an email. You need a job, we need an employee….we can be discerning even if you aren't in deciding who or what you are going to apply to.