I based today’s column on a question from a News To Live By reader. If you have a burning career question, submit it here. It could become part of a future NTLB newsletter!
Question: How do I make myself stand out at an entry-level position that tons of grads are going for?
Please understand I don’t mean the next line with any disrespect.
But no one wants to hire you.
You’re not a bad person or anything. You might be nice, charismatic and willing to start at the bottom. You may also have a stellar resume; high marks at college and solid experience at a first or second job (where you showcased the most important trait for success).
But I gotta be honest: no employer is interested.
Why? You fail to understand your audience.
With each resume and cover letter, you focus on your own achievements and give little mind to how you can assist the company with its current and future challenges.
The job market is full of talented people. You must change your approach.
Also, never forget to quantify your accomplishments.
Why does a company post a job description?
Maybe business has grown, and management can use an extra hand. Or perhaps someone unexpectedly left, and there’s a slot to fill.
Whatever the reason, the company has a need. That’s why the boss scans the stack of resumes for the exact person who can solve his or her challenges.
Until you effectively demonstrate why your skills will help the company prosper, the boss will look past your application [TWEET THIS].
How to write a job application from the employer’s perspective
Remember, it’s not about you. It’s about the employer’s acute challenges and how you are the most valuable solution.
Before you send off your next application:
– Check the company’s website and, specifically, the person or people who posted the job (if you can find their names). Have these people written on the company blog or elsewhere? Do they talk about challenges and opportunities in the industry? Those insights are pure gold because now you know what’s important to them. You understand the audience.
– Read industry blogs and gain a “feel” for the skills and trends most in demand. (In financial services? This article offers insight.) Then craft a cover letter to prove how your skillset matches what the company needs. Again, understand the audience.
– Read the job description closely and glean the kind of person the company wants based on the preferred skills.
– Amend your resume so your experience aligns with the company’s goals. For example: “Successfully managed a Kickstarter campaign for additional research funds, a critical long-term strategy for the scientific community”
– Draw on a personal story to prove you can do the work most important to the company. Need help? Here’s a tutorial.
Example of a cover letter paragraph with impact
If someone hopes to work in my field (marketing/PR), this is a paragraph I would love to see:
“Danny, I read your recent article (“You’re not using your site to its full potential“) about the most effective ways to use a company blog. I agree the future of the industry is content marketing, and I have worked hard to improve my skills in that area. Here are two examples — one from my own blog and one for a client. I would love to talk further about effective content marketing and how to grow such an important sector of the business.”
Can you say “perfect hire“? I can.
Yes, content marketing is the future of marketing/PR. Any company today must create meaningful content to engage with the audience and (try to) solve their problems. That’s what Google wants and rewards.
Ya know what? As a job applicant, you’re a content marketer too. Can you help a business with its unique problems? That’s what a boss wants and rewards.
The people who best understand their audience land the jobs.
The ones who don’t sit on the sidelines with worthy resumes and wonder why no one returns their calls.
Agree or disagree?
Featured: Avenue G (Flickr)
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