Searching for jobs today is much different than it was a few years ago. Back then, you’d simply look in the newspaper for job openings. Today, there are an endless amount of job boards to scour, and if you don’t check them out at least once per day, you feel like you’re slacking. If you’re still printing out your resume on heavy card stock paper and dressing up in a full suit for interviews, it’s time to learn the new rules of job hunting. Your first step is breaking these old fashioned standards.
1. Cast a Wide Net
You’ve been sending one-size-fits-all resumes to various employers with no consideration for the specific job you’re applying to or what the company’s looking for. Sure, playing the odds game made sense once, but now resumes are being filtered for keywords. Generic resumes don’t work anymore because businesses don’t want generic employees; instead, they want a perfect fit. A better approach is to take more time prepping an application, even if it means applying to fewer jobs overall.
2. Followup After a Few Days
A few years ago, employers wouldn’t even consider an applicant unless they followed up after submitting a resume. Today, following up on an application is just sort of annoying to employers – would you like to be overwhelmend with hundreds of, “Just checking you got my e-mail!” messages every day? Probably not. An eye-catching resume and cover letter will go farther than a nagging followup; if you have a contact at the company, even better. The only exception is if you apply blindly, and even then, just send one e-mail.
3. Format Your Cover Letter
Now that cover letters are e-mailed instead of sent via snail mail, the format has changed, too. Instead of the traditional layout of putting your contact information first, followed by a cookie cutter introductory paragraph and then, finally, the meat of the letter, do this instead: get right to the point of the letter first and then put a line at the bottom with your contact information.
4. Use Formal Language
Starting a cover letter with, “Dear Sir or Madam,” or something equally as formal is pretty much a guarantee that the letter won’t get read. Employers’ views on cover letters vary greatly – some love them, some don’t bother with them at all, etc. You can’t know an employer’s preference beforehand, but your best bet is to start the cover letter off conversationally while still being polite. Add in something about the company’s culture and don’t be afraid to get a bit creative.
5. Wear a Suit to Your Interview
Like it or not, what you wear to an interview plays a major role in the impression you make, which is why suits are the go-to outfit for interviewees. Depending on what company you’re applying too, though, you may want to dress less formally. For example, if everyone wear t-shirts and jeans to work, a suit’s going to make you look way too stuffy and rigid. Find out how people at the company dress and then take it up a notch. When in doubt, though, err on the side of too dressy.
6. Write an Objective Statement
When you used to send out a hundred copies of the same resume, an objective statement made sense. Today, these statements just sound far too vague. Since you’re now tailoring your resume and cover letter to each job, blanket objective statements are too broad to make sense. Leave it out completely or write a new one for each job.