Having viewed thousands of domestic staffing resumés and cover letters over the course of several years having been involved in and connected with the often volatile world of recruitment, the way applications have ‘evolved’ in terms of appearance and content is a little concerning from my perspective. The static language hasn’t really changed, the bland use of Word remains the same and the underrated, and often underused cover letters are often barren and/or disconcertingly vague.
Start shouldering the blame…
It’s easy to blame certain recruiters for being rude or having non-existent correspondence skills, but all recruiters want is access to passionate and skilled candidates. Does your resume tell the reader within the first couple of seconds that they should continue reading? Or does your application fail to capture the imagination and sell you short of your abilities or potential? If you are not getting interviews and you have the desired and relevant skills then something is dreadfully wrong and action must be taken.
First impressions count…
The problem lies with the ability to present and position oneself as the person who should be interviewed before any of the other applicants in the easiest and quickest fashion – think of it like a short story containing the key vocabulary and phrases relevant to your connection with the position you are applying for. But having the content is only half of the battle, if the presentation execution isn’t apparent, your application could end up being overlooked in favour of a more attractive and compelling layout. First impressions always count, and this is no different when making a digital application. so before you go and buy that new outfit, invest the time at your typewriter or mac and get creative.
Your job application documents should not be a couple of 5 minute, partially-enthused documents. You should really take the time to represent yourself…because on the first point of contact nobody else will. Stand up for your abilities and take the time to write something that sells and create something that’s different. In my opinion, it is important to plant a seed in the employer’s mind regarding the work-related consequences should they not hire you.
When writing a cover letter don’t sell what you can do, sell the end result…sell the experience to the employer.
Testing the water…
Think of your resume like a sales copy, many marketers will A/B split-test their adverts with only the slightest tweaks to see what is working and what isn’t – things such as a replacement word in a headline, an element colour on a landing page, or a different image. You see….job seeking is just the same as marketing in this respect…by testing you are learning what your audience engages with the most. These small changes can make a huge difference in your results and if your application documents have a strong call to action it guarantees employers will be calling you or emailing you immediately to arrange the next steps. In a small amount of time, you will see which of your application sets are converting and which are not.
Get busy, get creative!
Hopefully this helped at least one person with their approach to job application documents. Get the basics right, don’t misrepresent yourself with a really poorly put together application!
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