You’ve met the love of your life and you’re about to head out on your first date. Naturally you want to make a great impression. Do you…
(a) Find out what they’re interested in and engage in relevant conversation, or…
(b) Blurt out all available information about your personal and professional life and hope that they find something in there of interest?
If you’re struggling, the correct answer is (a).
It’s the same with your job application. You might be the greatest, most qualified, most experienced person to apply, but if you’re not addressing the points of interest to the employer, well, you’re not getting the second date.
The purpose of your job application is to get you an interview. It is not (and never has been) possible to short cut the interview and go straight to the job. So you need to talk in a language and provide relevant information that leaves the employer wanting more.
With that in mind, here are 7 THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND if you really want to get to the interview.
KEEP YOUR CV AND COVER LETTER RELEVANT
Every job has a different focus. Your CV should reflect this. Management roles, for example, requires different talents than a Personal Training role. Your CV should highlight the elements of your previous experience that are most relevant to the role you’re applying for. Similarly, your cover letter should address all the requirements listed in the job ad as succinctly as possible.
If your date asks you for the time and you respond with the weather, sure, it’s nice to know, but it’s not answering the question at hand.
AVOID LONG CVs
There seems to be an inverse relationship between the length of a CV and calibre of the candidate. That is, the longer the CV, the less relevant information it contains. Time is the most precious commodity an employer has. They do not want to trawl through multiple pages of resume to determine whether you’re a good fit for the role. As a general rule, two pages MAXIMUM. And that goes for everyone!
It’s like taking someone on a date that won’t stop talking about themselves. You’ve got two ears and one mouth, use them in that ratio.
There are things that employers are not permitted to ask for in a job ad or interview. In particular, they are not allowed to ask any questions to do with your personal life. In the same way, there is no reason for this sort of information to be volunteered. Employers do not want to hear about the number of kids you have, your recent sickness, your marital status, how old you are or about some recent fall out you had with another employer. This sort of information can only work against you.
I believe the term in dating circles is ‘baggage’. Put it behind you.
USE THE NAME OF THE CONTACT PERSON
The sweetest sound in the world is someone saying your name. If you want to make an impression on a first date, make sure you use their name (and not the name of an ex – I can confirm that doesn’t roll well).
There is no-one called ‘Towhomeitmayconcern’ or ‘Themanager’. Make sure you address your application to the person indicated in the ad, if provided. If no name is given, here’s a great opportunity to stand out – make a call to find out who to address your application to. Brilliant.
USE A COVER LETTER
If the purpose of your CV is to get an interview, the purpose of your Cover Letter is to get your CV read! All ads provide information about the nature of the role, required experience and qualifications. The Cover Letter is where you address each of these elements specifically. A good cover letter makes a great first impression – which means more time is likely to be spent reading your CV.
It’s like dressing well for a date. You want to make the best possible impression.
PROOF READ YOUR APPLICATION BEFORE SENDING
Spelling errors, lack of capitals, incorrect grammar and punctuation are all an unnecessary set back for your application. Get a friend or family member to read over your application to pick up any errors before you send it.
You wouldn’t get ready for a date without asking for another opinion or at least a mirror!
DON’T FOLLOW UP TOO SOON!
Employers have more on their plate than your application. There is no reason to check whether the CV you sent through earlier today has been read. In the very least, give it a week. Then politely enquire as to the time frame for interviews and whether they will be notifying unsuccessful candidates. Instead, use the time to get your application to other employers.
OK, maybe not leave it a week to follow up after a date, but you know what I mean.
Both sides of the recruiting equation could benefit from treating things more like a date. There is way too much ‘this job is awesome and should be obvious’ or ‘I’m the perfect candidate, which will be obvious’ going on. A better approach would be for both sides to adopt a ‘how can I best represent myself for the best possible outcome’ approach. That way we might see a few more of the ‘match made in heaven’.
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