When you first start looking for a job you’re excited … you jump online and blast your resume off to anything that looks remotely interesting. You are thinking about you … “Hmm, that sounds good, I might like to work in that role …”, hit Send and away it goes!
Perhaps you’ve lost your job and suddenly, with no warning, you’re staring down the barrel of financial struggles and stress. You desperately scour job sites and papers and apply for anything. This seems like a great idea – surely the more applications you send, the greater chance you have of getting another job and putting this stress behind you!
Others adopt a first-in, best-dressed theory – job markets are competitive and you believe that getting in quickly will give you an edge over the competition.
I know of candidates who sit at work, miserable in their job, and in reaction to something that has happened in the workplace, spend a few minutes online frantically applying for anything remotely possible.
After a resume-blasting session you feel better … “Well that was a good effort” you think, “I’ve put myself in front of plenty of employers. Surely I will get a job from one of these.”
Did you know that, within minutes of a new job being posted on job search sites, employers and recruiters start receiving applications in their inbox? The problem is however, that most of those applications will be from people who don’t meet the criteria.
Job-searching is a numbers game and the more applications you get out there, the more likely you are to find a position. But your applications must be targeted.
Nobody is impressed by the number of applications you submit, nobody will pat your back at the end of a resume-blasting session and say “Well done Johnny, 30 applications sent”.
Employers want substance. Facts. Figures. Results. They’ve got a problem and they want you to solve it. Employers want to know what you’ve done, how you’ve done it well and the value you can offer them. Generic applications don’t address those needs.
Using a one-size-fits-all resume and generic cover letter will not make an impact with employers. You are wasting not only your time, but the employers’ time as well and ultimately lengthening your job search.
Stop and think about recruitment databases for a moment. Records are kept of positions you apply for: have you ever considered that in 3 months from now if you are still looking for work, people will see not only that you’ve been searching for a while but also that you’re a ‘serial applicant’?
Candidates who take the time to tailor their application to the role have far more chance of being considered as a serious applicant.
“But I need a job,” you cry, “I haven’t got time to be selective and tailor my application.” Understandably you need to secure work and have to be proactively applying for roles, but proceeding in a job search with a generic resume and cover letter is ineffective.
Take the time now to work on an interview-winning resume and cover letter. You can use these as your base, so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time you apply.
When you see a job of interest read the criteria carefully – do you meet it? If you do then it’s time to customise your application.
- Start with your resume – make sure your profile and areas of expertise (core competencies/skills) are tailored to the role – does it contain keywords from the advert?
- How have the company written the qualifications – are yours listed this way in your resume?
- Look at the order of information in the advert (usually the order of importance for the employer) – does your application cover these points early in the resume?
Sometimes your resume will only require minor editing – perhaps changing the order of achievements to highlight key areas of importance for this role.
- Treat your cover letter as an opportunity to talk about your ‘fit’ for the position.
- Tell the employer how you will meet their needs.
- Discuss other information that might not be contained in your resume but is relevant to the role.
- Talk about the company: a candidate who has clearly done their research is impressive.
- Address your letter to a person rather than Dear Sir or Dear Hiring Manager. You can call the receptionist or search online for this information.
Every time you tailor an application save a copy: if you come across a similar role you’ll only need to make minor adjustments.
Taking the time to customise your application is well worth the effort. Employers can see that you’ve invested time in the application and you stand out from other applicants. You have the opportunity to highlight points from your past that speak directly to this position.
Don’t be reactive – stop and think about your application and take the time to get it right before pressing Send!