I write about this topic often, but it truly blows my mind to see how many job seekers indiscriminately apply for a dozen jobs a day, regardless of whether they actually meet the qualifications or have appropriate experience. This ineffective job search behavior creates a vicious cycle for all of us. Recruiters are bombarded by resumes, so they spend little time reviewing each one—while job seekers perceive the staggering odds of landing any particular position and believe that applying for more positions will increase their chances.
HOW DO I SET MYSELF APART FROM THE MASSES?
Knowing what a serious problem this is, how can you set yourself apart as a candidate? The obvious answer is to apply only for positions for which you’re truly qualified. However, even qualified candidates have to present themselves appropriately in order to get pulled from a stack of hundreds of resumes. Your cover letter is a powerful tool to help you in this effort.
TELL THEM WHY YOU’RE A GREAT FIT.
If you’re a great fit for a particular company or position, don’t be shy about saying so in your cover letter. For instance, if you know that a company just adopted a new IT software system, you could write, “Although I am not an IT professional, my affinity for rapidly learning new software programs has served me well in previous positions. In addition to utilizing technology to complete my work quickly, I am often called upon to assist my peers in learning new systems as they are adopted.”
SHOW THEM YOU’RE INTERESTED IN WHAT THEY HAVE TO OFFER
Another way to show your personal fit is to refer to the benefits of working for a particular company. Are you looking for a large organization that offers tuition reimbursement so you can get your M.B.A.? Say something like, “I particularly appreciate [Company’s] dedication to the professional development of its employees, as demonstrated through its tuition reimbursement program, because I would eventually like to further my education.” If you’re a working mother looking for a flexible schedule, you can say, “As a parent, I would love to put my skills to work for a company that has been listed in the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers for the last two years.”
Ultimately, companies are going to get a stack of candidates for each open position. Their first task is to weed through that stack to the candidates who are truly qualified. Their second task is to determine which qualified candidate offers the best fit for their team and work environment. Lay the foundation for making that final cut from the start—in your cover letter.
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About the author
Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast
Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.
What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.
You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!
I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!
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