Your Job Search

Applying to loads of jobs but not landing any interviews?

Prepare to network with other professionals at in-person events, and Network through online resources, such as LinkedIn.

Job searching has changed drastically over the decade.

Reacquaint yourself with how it differs today.

  1. Not getting interviews?

Do not underestimate the importance of a well-written and engaging cover letter. It can make the difference between hearing nothing from an employer and eventually getting offered a job. Cover letters are crucial to hiring managers who understand that people are more than just their work experience – that people have personalities, motivations, habits and other reasons they’d be great at a particular job that aren’t easily seen from a résumé. A cover letter takes a first step at explaining that additional piece of what you’re all about.

Show that you’re truly excited about the opportunity.

  • Is it the job description or the company?
  • You prefer this job over others out there
  • Why do you think you’d be great at it?
  • Show that you’d excel at the work, since you have a matching background
  1. Don’t repeat your résumé. The cover letter should add something new to your candidacy – personal traits, work habits, why you’re interested in the job, maybe even a reference to feedback from a previous manager.
  2. Show what makes you especially well-suited for the job
  3. A profile at the top of your cover letter – a quick list of the highlights of your strengths and experience, summing up in just a few sentences or bullet points who you are as a candidate and what you have to offer.
  4. Accomplishments at each job – Results or outcome of your activity at the job. That meansgetting rid of lines like “managed website” and replacing them with lines like “increased Web traffic by 15 percent in six months” – i.e., something that explains how you performed, not just what your job was.
  5. Volunteer work.Employers want to know about all the experience you have that might be relevant, whether you received pay for it or not.
  6. Relevant hobbies and side projects.It can help flesh out your skills and experience and can demonstrate a passion for the work that paid jobs can’t always do.
  • IT position – you run an online software discussion group in your spare time, mention that.
  • Teaching job – you review children’s books for your website, that’s important to mention too.
  1. Bullet points.An employer will absorb more information about you with a quick skim if your information is arranged in bullet points rather than paragraphs.

For example, you frequently get teased for being obsessive about details. That’s a perfect thing to mention in a cover letter, and it’s information that wouldn’t be found on your résumé.

  1. Stay away from boasting.Keep the focus on why you’d excel at the job without trying to put down your competition.Your cover letter shouldn’t sound like a commercial ad.
  2. If you’re overqualified but you don’t mind – explain that in your cover letter. Else, many hiring managers will assume that you wouldn’t be enthusiastic about the job without ever giving you a chance to tell them why you’re interested anyway.
  3. Be conversational. The best cover letters are written in a conversational, engaging tone. Of course, don’t be overly casual; don’t use slang, andpay careful attentionto things like grammar and spelling. But your tone and the language should be conversational, warm and engaging.
  4. In case it’s not obvious from the above,don’tuse a form letter. Hiring managers can tell the difference between a letter that you’re sending with all your applications and a letter that you wrote specifically for this job. If your letter works for all the jobs you’re applying to, that’s a sign that it needs to be more customized.

Most people, even the exceptionally well-qualified, don’t get interviews for every job they apply for. But if you’re applying for dozens of jobs per month – jobs for which you truly do meet the qualifications – and never hearing anything back, chances are good that your application materials are responsible.

Your résumé probably isn’t going to get you interviews at even half the jobs you apply to. But if it’s not even scoring you a success rate of one in 10, that tells you that you need to revisit what you’re sending out.

  1. You feel like you’re a much more valuable worker than your résumé shows. A lot of people think to themselves, “If I could only get an interview, they’d see what a great fit I am.” But if you feel that way, your résumé isn’t doing its job. If you’re a great employee – someone with a track record of achieving at a high level in past jobs – it’s your résumé’s job to show that. If it’s not, you need to rewrite your résumé until it reflects why an employer should be excited to talk to you.

Type of work you do may be hard to convey on a résumé.

However, being a valuable employee is about getting results for your employer, and there’s always a way to describe those results on a résumé. Iit might be something more like,

  • Became the department’s go-to source for quickly and accurately resolving billing discrepancies
  • Built a reputation of working successfully with previously unhappy clients
  • Resolved an inherited four-month backlog in three weeks.

Whatever it was that made you excellent at your work, that’s what your résumé need to convey. Otherwise, it won’t open many doors for you.

  1. Your resume should look different from the one who has done mediocre work. Your résumé should convey how well you did similar roles. Hiring managers care more about whether you excelled in the role.

The way you address this is by focusing your résumé on what you achieved in each role and how you excelled, not just a list of duties.

  1. It’s three or more pages. You job history may be worth describing and there, won’t fit in two pages. But many highly qualified, senior-level  candidates regularly manage to stick to two-page (and sometimes one-page) résumés. So if you exceed two pages, most hiring managers will see you as someone who can’t edit, doesn’t understand what information is most important and doesn’t respect their time. When in the job, you should be able to report in a summary. No one likes to read lengthy reports.
  2. When you do get interviews, interviewers seem surprised by some of the information you give them.If your interviewer seems pleasantly surprised by a work achievement or other qualification that comes up in the interview, it might be something that should have been on your résumé in the first place.

Similarly, if your interviewer seems disappointed to learn that, say, your last job was only a few hours a week or lasted only a few months, that’s a flag that your résumé might need to be clearer. You might wonder why you should be clearer about things that might get you disqualified, but otherwise you risk wasting your time interviewing for jobs for which you’re not a strong candidate and don’t have much chance of being hired.

The truth is that the Internet has shifted the way it all works. There are aspects of your resume and online profile that can easily date you if you don’t take steps to update your approach. This puts you in danger of rejection before you even manage to get an interview.


Suresh Shah, Pathfinders Enterprise

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