Roughly 50% of job applications today are resumes only. In 2015, almost 70% of my client hires included additional content such as a cover letter or LinkedIn profile.
Whether applying for an advertised job via email, an online application, or even if you are just blindly sending a resume in the off chance a company might consider you for hire, the key concepts to address in the content that accompanies the resume are:
Please Tell Me WHY You are Applying for the Job
Where did you see the job ad? If you were on the major job sites like SEEK or Indeed, you probably saw hundreds. What was it about this ad that caught your eye and made you act on this particular job? One sentence is enough. If you saw the ad on the company’s website that’s brilliant — you weren’t doing what everyone does: just scanning the job sites. Instead you were actually looking into specific companies. What did you like about this company and/or this job ad? It’s not hard; I know you can do it!
Prove TO ME – Why You Believe You are Qualified
It isn’t necessary to write a novel regarding your experience here, and you shouldn’t. One or two sentences that tell me about the most relevant experience will get us to the next step. You can quantify years of experience in the industry, list a couple technologies listed in the ad, reference a noteworthy accomplishment, or simply explain to me how a current or past role prepared you. A link to past work might help in certain cases.
DEMONSTRATE REAL INTEREST
If you’ve covered what prompted your application and your qualifications nicely, a simple “I’m very interested in learning more about this position…” can really make your case. If you feel you may need just a bit more to put you over the top, demonstrating that you did a minute of research on the company can help you immensely. But, a word of warning, please refrain from re-posting the company’s ABOUT page. Is there a product the company offers that you’d like to know more about? Did the way they described their culture have particular appeal to you?
Mention the COMPANY NAME at Least 2 X
Doing this lets them know you cared enough not to send them one of your 120 copy – paste – send templates. Applications that use generic phrases like “your company” or the worst, “your esteemed organisation” scream “I’m just looking for any job” and not “I’d like to be an employee of Company XYZ”. The first mention can be in the opening sentence when you list the job itself (“…apply for Senior Python Developer at COMPANY”), and specify it again in your closing. It’s really not that hard and it shows that you invested at least 10 minutes into your application.
Please DONT DO ANYTHING Stupid or Desperate
Referencing the wrong company name due to cut/paste blunders is a very common slip-up, and although many companies are willing to forgive a small error, it does give the appearance that the candidate has applied to several positions (which is fine, but decreases our odds of hiring). Make the company want to hire you based on your skills and not on sympathy. Don’t ask them to hire you, just explain why they should want to. Enough said.
Oh and don’t ignore these special situations…
If You are Asked for Salary Info
If you are uncomfortable about providing salary requirements, you need to get over it! At least acknowledge the request tactfully (as opposed to completely ignoring it). Try something like “It’s challenging to provide a good reply before knowing any other elements of employee compensation packages, as well as the specific job responsibilities and the company’s expectations for this role.”
If You are an “OUT OF TOWN” Candidate
Recruiters receive many resumes from ‘out-of-towners’. When they see a non-local address without any explanation, it is often safe to assume that you are applying for many jobs all across the country. Therefore, unless your resume is spectacular, non-local applicants may not be given the same level of consideration.
When targeting a move to a specific city, mention this in the body of your application. Companies will pay close attention to candidates that have concrete plans to move to their city, and agency recruiters are much more likely to work with you if you are only seeking jobs in one or two locations.
You May Feel that You are Underqualified to do the Job
There will be times when a job looks cool but your experience clearly falls a bit short. In this situation, the opportunity to write a few sentences in support of your resume is your best shot at being considered. It is much harder to say no to someone who demonstrates that they are eager to work for you.
Also keep in mind that companies / recruiters / hiring managers will generally read your resume unless it’s 5+ pages, (assuming you get past the ATS) but just as you didn’t want to write your resume, they really don’t want to read your resume. To put it another way, they read through the resumes not because they enjoy it but because they must in order to make a yes/no decision. So, make it easy for them.
So, if you tackling the application process, consider this advice and when you search, remember to hunt wisely!