You’ve spotted a job that you really want to get, but to stand a chance of landing it, you first need to go through the application process. The last thing you want is for your application to get thrown out during the initial screening process. How can you ensure that your application gets noticed and considered?
1. First Impressions Count
A well-formatted resume creates a positive first impression. It says that you were willing to put in some effort in order to introduce yourself to recruiters and warrants a closer look. So, the first step to getting noticed is to create a professional-looking resume. Not all of us are good at resume writing, even if we’re very good at the type of jobs we apply for, so get help. An Australian resume builder can guide you through the process, ensuring that your end-product is both well-formatted and complete.
Avoid simple, yet surprisingly common, mistakes like forgetting to include contact details, for example. Use easy-on-the-eye fonts and present information in an orderly, well-organized way. Remember, resume screening is often a brutal process in which overworked, overtired HR employees must go through hundreds of resumes. Make their job harder to do, or give them one, single reason to think that your application has been done in a slipshod way, and it hits the bin with a thud!
2. Tailor Your Resume for the Post
While your skills, qualifications and work experience will always be the same, different aspects of these may be important for different posts. You may need to re-prioritize information in your resume, or phrase it slightly differently to show that you are a good match.
Certain elements of your work experience could demonstrate your suitability for a particular post. It’s still the same previous employment, but you’ll work on showing how it has prepared you for the role you hope to win. For example, if you were formerly a production manager, but are applying as an HR manager, you would focus on the HR-related facets of the work you previously did even though the designation for your previous job is still “Production Manager.”
Some companies use software to do the initial screening of resumes. It will look for specific keywords, so never assume that something you know is self-apparent. For instance, if you’re applying for a job as a software developer, be sure to list the programming languages in which you are able to work. If specific qualifications, skills or areas of experience are listed as requirements, reflect the same language in your CV.
3. Take Your Time and Pay Attention to the Job Ad
Companies spend a lot of time on crafting jobs ads that will attract the right sort of applicants. Every element is important. Try to use your resume to address each of the points made by recruiters. The better you can do it, the more likely your application is to be noticed.
If you can’t fit every criterion, don’t try to force yourself into the mold or create a false impression. The main thing is to make sure you fit most of the requirements. If you don’t fit most of them, the job probably isn’t for you and applying would be a waste of time! Continue your search and find openings that suit your skills.
4. Create a Great Covering Letter
You guessed it: “Dear XXX, herewith my resume,” is not going to make much of an impression. As a recruiter, I always found the covering letter to be a good initial indicator of whether an applicant was going to be worth my time. If your resume shouldn’t be generic, then your covering letter shouldn’t be either. In fact, it’s the place where you get your first and best opportunity to express yourself.
Begin with a subject line as every good business letter should. Now introduce yourself briefly – not your name – that comes at the bottom. Examples could be “As a recent graduate with a degree in marketing,” or “As a legal secretary with 5 years of experience.” Next, mention the job you’re applying for and say in your own words why you decided you might be a good candidate using the job posting or ad as a guideline.
In the process, show that you know something about the company and see whether you can link your skills to its strong points. Your covering letter should be relatively short, but don’t be shy about saying that you were excited about discovering the opportunity.
Close by noting that your resume is attached. There’s a good reason for this. If a panel is working with hard copies, it’s quite possible for a covering letter to become separated from the resume itself!
5. Answer Competency-Based Questions if Any
While some companies merely invite the submission of CVs, some ask you to complete competency-based questions that they can use during screening. Answer as concisely as you can without omitting any important information. The STAR approach is often recommended. Begin with the Situation, describe the Task that will be performed in this context. The “A” stands for Action: how would you approach this task? End with the Result.
6. Submit a Portfolio
If you’re applying for a post in which creative skills are required, make a point of providing access to a portfolio. It’s easiest to do this online. Free website builders can work well and a lot of creatives like Canva as a platform for showcasing their portfolios. If the ad didn’t ask for a portfolio, don’t let that put you off. Include a link in your covering letter so that your recruiter can easily click through for a look.
7. Remember to Submit as a PDF File and Follow Up
Having gone to all this trouble to present yourself well, don’t risk slips like unsupported formats turning your application into a jumbled mess. Ensure that you’ve converted your work into a PDF format before sending it off.
But you aren’t finished yet. If you haven’t received a response within a week, make a call just to check that recruiters have received your resume. If they have, you can also use the opportunity to find out when you will get feedback on your application.
If you don’t win through this time, keep sharpening your skills and keep on trying. Be sure to apply for posts that you genuinely are qualified for, and sooner or later, you’re sure to hit the sweet spot!