According to the career website Zety, each corporate job offer attracts an average of 250 resumes. That’s a lot of similar “wheat” to stand out in and prove that you’re the rare “chaff,” so to speak.
What is it exactly that allows your job application to make an impact in all of this noise? Is there something extra you can do—a one-page resume, an objective on your resume, or a specially formatted cover letter, for example—that will grab the attention of recruiters and hiring managers?
According to certified Career Coach and Resume Writer Dawid Wiacek, Founder of Career Fixer LLC, these kinds of bells and whistles aren’t what it takes. “The truth is, you don’t need any of the above for (many) job applications,” Wiacek said. “I have clients who come to me asking for a one-page resume because their two- or three-page resume wasn’t working. But when we really examine their longer resume, it’s not the length of it, but it’s the quality of the resume that is lacking.”
The same concept holds true for other parts of your job application, including your cover letter.
How to Get Noticed by the Hiring Team
Here’s Wiacek’s expert advice on how you can increase the chance of your resume and cover letter being noticed by the hiring team.
Get the SEO Right
On both your resume and cover letter, be sure you incorporate the right phrases, skills, and keywords—meaning they must be relevant to and match the job description of the job to which you’re applying.
Make Your Case Early On
Don’t save the best for last in your cover letter and resume—share what’s most important for employers to see in the top third of page one of your resume and cover letter.
“Make it abundantly clear at the top of your resume (the headline, the marquee, if you will) that you have already delivered value to prior employers, and that you will do the same,” Wiacek said.
Include Numbers, Not Just Words
The job applications that pack a punch are those that include metrics, percentages, and concrete, quantified accomplishments.
“Instead of writing ‘Improved efficiency of creative workflows,’ consider ‘Achieved 30% efficiency boost by implementing system upgrades and introducing weekly, cross-departmental check-ins.'”
Polish Your Social Media Presence
Make sure you have a complete, updated, and polished LinkedIn profile that matches the details you share in your resume—at least mostly.
Wiacek maintains that if there’s too much delta between the resume and LinkedIn, this could be a red flag in the eyes of the recruiter.
Build Your Thought Leadership
Do you post relevant content and innovative ideas on LinkedIn, or are you a passive professional? Do you attend conferences (whether online or in-person) and speak at them?
Thought leadership—sharing your expertise through publications and speaking about industry issues—can help you stand out.
“Recruiters will be snooping around on LinkedIn,” Wiacek explained. “They will be impressed if you’re a thought leader.”
Network, Network, Network
Arguably as important as what your application materials and social sites look like is your skill at networking. It’s making connections with others in your industry that might be what helps get your job application into the right hands, which can move it to the top of the pile.
“Before, during, and after applying, reach out to current or former employees,” Wiacek said. “Do so tactfully and gracefully. Ask politely for a finite amount of time: a 10-minute phone call within the next week is a more realistic ask than, ‘Do you have an hour to speak tomorrow?’”
Leverage Informational Interviews
Wiacek believes that informational interviews are one of the best ways to get your application noticed because you can then ask for tips and referrals.
You can also make note of who you spoke with in your cover letter: “After talking to several of your employees, including [name], I am confident I am a strong culture fit and can deliver tangible value [XYZ].”
Take the Time to Get Noticed
The steps you take on the front end to get your job application noticed take longer but will be time well spent.
By being intentional in how you prepare for and present your candidacy, your resume, your cover letter, and your other job materials, you will rise above the fray.
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