A college degree is a powerful tool for today’s job-seeker, and absolutely essential for those pursuing a promising career. Once you have this tool though, it’s important to know how to differentiate yourself from other graduates when it comes time to apply for the job of your dreams.
In this article, we’ll tell you how you can showcase your qualifications to improve your odds of turning an application into an opportunity. Below, you’ll find 5 tips for making yourself stand out, in the best possible way, when you apply for the job of your dreams.
Tip #1—Research, Research, Research
The first step to success in getting the job of your dreams is doing your homework:
- Learn about the industry you’re considering
- Within that industry, research the companies that you might be interested in
- Once you’ve decided to apply to a specific company, learn what makes them different from other companies
- Find out what type of company culture your potential employer encourages
- Take the time to be sure of what the application process requires and allows for
All of this research will pay dividends, especially as it allows you to more effectively apply the following tips:
Tip #2 —Make Sure Your Resume Makes a Good First Impression
Hiring managers will draw conclusions about far more than the content of your resume, so it’s important to focus on the message your resume sends through your choice in the layout, length, colors, and font. A single typo could send a strong message to a potential employer about your attention to detail, intellectual capabilities, or fluency.
Tip #3 — How to Make Sure Your Resume Gets Noticed for the Right Reasons
It’s essential to tailor your application materials (cover letter, resume, portfolio, etc.) to the company to which you are applying. In addition to the materials each organization will require in your application, it’s also important to remember that each company will value different skills, credentials, and experience. Bear this in mind as you choose which job experience, certifications, and abilities to list in your resume.
Some hiring managers will advise you to draft a new version of your resume for every company you apply to. Resumes that don’t seem tailored to the position and the company generally go to the bottom of the stack.
Tip #4—When and How to Use a Cover Letter
It’s important to remember that a cover letter represents both an opportunity and a pitfall; a pitfall because providing a cover letter when it’s not desired may put off a potential employer. Pay close attention to the application instructions for your desired role, and only include a cover letter where appropriate.
When it is allowed for or requested, however, the cover letter provides an opportunity to express more emotion, and in a more personal manner, than the resume allows for. First, tailor your cover letter to the job you want, then use the space (usually one page) to clearly connect the information in your resume (and additional information you may choose to provide) to the requirements of the position.
A cover letter is also the one place where it may be appropriate to discuss emotions, ambitions, penchants, and personality traits that you feel are pertinent to the company’s needs.
Tip #5—How and When to Stand Out
If the company culture is laid-back, your resume shouldn’t reflect an uptight approach to your work. On the other hand, if a workplace is more formal, be sure to avoid any slang, casual grammar, etc., in your resume, cover letter, and any supplemental materials.
If you’re in the process of finding a job, you can assume that multiple people are likely applying for the same positions you are. There may be overlap in terms of qualifications, degrees, certifications, and experience. Therefore, you can’t rely on your merits alone to get the job you want.
It’s important to learn how to package yourself and your skills in a way that catches the attention of a hiring manager. To do this, preparation is needed. Learn about the industry, company, culture, and position. Let the knowledge you’ve attained help you customize your approach to the application process. Put in the effort and you’ll see results.