What really makes a recruiter stand up and take notice? In today’s job market, it is common for recruiters to receive upwards of 100 applications for one role, so what are they doing to cull those applications? How does that process affect how you should prepare your application?
There are many ways to make sure you get noticed in a job application. Despite what many people think, the best way is not with colourful graphics, complex formatting and an enticing head shot on the front page. Today’s job market is tough and there are simply more people with the right skills and experience applying for the same jobs. So how can you ensure you give yourself the best possible chance at getting noticed? Here’s our TOP 8 TIPS:
TIP # 1: Call the recruiter: many job ads include a contact so call them to find out exactly what they are looking for. Ask if there is anything in particular they are expecting or looking for in an ideal application or any specialist experience they would find useful. Then use that information to tailor your application.
TIP # 2: Focus: understand who you are and what you have to offer and focus your content around those core themes. As a Resume writer I am often asked to write a ‘general’ Resume because clients want something they can use across various roles and industries. Unfortunately this approach just does not cut it. Apart from the fact there is increasing competition in the marketplace, by generalising your experience and skills you could come across as a ‘Jack of all trades, Master of none’. Employers look for value and they need experts who can quickly hit the ground running and add immediate benefit.
TIP # 3: Use keywords: many recruiters use software or online systems to make an initial cull of applications and this software works in different ways depending on what it is and how it’s implemented. Regardless if automated systems are used or not to cull applications – it is important to include keywords in your application. By mirroring the content found in the job ad or position description, you increase your chances of getting noticed and being perceived as an ‘ideal’ candidate. Sometimes, all it takes is changing your language like using ‘client’ instead of ‘customer’; and using key industry buzz words to demonstrate your knowledge.
TIP # 4: Write a customised cover letter: you should do this for EVERY job you apply for. Go through the job ad and/or position description with a fine tooth comb and highlight all your relevant experience, skills, qualifications, and specific expertise. If possible, think outside the box to identify successes you’ve had or skills you possess that might make you stand out. For example if you’ve worked in a similar role or industry – perhaps identify a key issue or challenge the industry is currently facing. Maybe you’ve implemented a similar project and have some specialist knowledge – if so, say so and indicate the level of success you achieved and how that is relevant to the recruiter.
TIP # 5: Tailor your Resume: Yes, that’s right – and again EVERY time! This might be as simple as re-ordering some points or de-emphasising/emphasising certain aspects of your job history, but tailoring your resume is just as important as writing a customised cover letter. The recruiter needs to immediately identify with you as being an ideal candidate and you won’t achieve that with generic content. This comes back to focus, but you can brand yourself as the ideal candidate by showcasing relevant experiences and successes and using the same language as the recruiting company.
TIP # 6: Address your cover letter: address your letter to the individual mentioned in the job ad and make reference to the conversation you had if you made an initial call (see TIP # 1). With LinkedIn and other online information sources, it isn’t hard to find out someone’s correct name, title and company address. Take a few minutes to source this information and address your cover letter professionally.
TIP # 7: Include all relevant details in the cover letter: after your address, open with a bold heading stating the job title, where the job was advertised, and the reference number if applicable. This makes it easy for the recruiter to identify exactly what job you’re applying for and allocate your application to the relevant area for assessment.
TIP # 8: Follow up: this is especially so if you have spoken with the recruiter prior to submitting your application but equally relevant if you haven’t. Leaving a brief voicemail or sending a short email is both appropriate and admirable because it shows commitment and interest. Briefly highlight how you match the job description and reiterate your desire for an interview.
Taking a little time to customise the content in your application can reap big rewards when it comes to the job application process so don’t underestimate the value in doing this.
Would you like assistance from a professional Resume Writer to create a job application that gets you noticed? Do you feel your application lacks relevance to the roles you are applying for? If you would like assistance with writing a winning job application, please see our Resume Writing and Job Search Coaching Services.