Craft a Memorable Cover Letter
Cover letters can be boring, but a great one will help you stand out from the crowd. Write succinctly, drawing attention to how your skills and experience are a perfect match for the job requirements, and use similar words to the listing itself.
It’s tempting to fall into the trap of not attaching a cover letter, or having a “one-size-fits-all” template that isn’t really relevant to the particular position. This won’t help you get noticed. Show that you have genuine interest in this specific job, as opposed to revealing that it’s just one of many.
Don’t Provide Salary Details
Companies love to try to get applicants to give their salary history, even though they should really be concerned with finding an appropriate range for the job in question. They might even include a field in their job application form that demands current salary information. If it’s a required field, first try typing in something that will keep things open for discussion in-person. This can be as simple as “N/A.”
If you really do need to write down a figure, determine an appropriate range for the role — again, not the jobs you’ve held in the past, but the one that you’re applying for. PayScale’s Salary Survey will help you set a range based on the job, the location, and your skills and education.
To make sure you’re starting negotiations off on the right foot, make sure the smaller number in your range is something that you’re prepared to accept. Don’t low-ball yourself before you even get in the door.
Don’t Stick to Job Boards
If you’re applying to jobs online but doing nothing else, there’s a whole lot of untapped potential within your network. Contact former coworkers and invite them to get coffee, reach out directly to hiring managers, and don’t be afraid to ask about positions that aren’t currently being advertised.
When you connect with opportunities, remember that you’re not asking for a handout; if they’re hiring, and you’re the perfect fit for the role, everyone wins. Stay connected with family and friends, so that you’re sure to hear about upcoming opportunities.
Keep the Screening in Mind
When applying for a job, remember that the first step will be a screening. The person who reads your job application will not necessarily be the hiring manager, or even someone with a strong understanding of the position’s responsibilities. There’s also a good chance that your resume will land in an applicant tracking system before it ever gets to a human. That’s right: the first person you need to impress might be a robot.
Because of this, you don’t need to include a lot of extraneous details in your application, such as character references. References are not required until much later in the hiring process. You also don’t have to list every single job you’ve ever held. Stick to what’s strictly relevant and write as clearly as possible. Remember that your goal is to make it to that first in-person meeting. Emphasize the parts of your experience that match most closely with the job description, and keep your job application to the point.
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