Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Standing out in a Tough Job Market

Standing out in a Tough Job Market

Any employer recruiting right now will tell you, one job posting equates to around 100 resumes flooding your inbox. So how can you stand out? What will grab an employer’s attention?

1. Make sure your file can be opened. I would be willing to bet that most places do have Microsoft, but just in case save your resume in .rtf. I know my new laptop is equipped with Vista and word 2007, but I have yet to upgrade all the computers of the office…

2. Have a professional email. It’s hard for me to take someone seriously if their email looks like something that should have been sent to my spam mail. Your_name@gmail.com is a good start.

2. Keep your resume simple and efficient. One page is about all that can keep my attention – this is especially important for someone who has just graduated or has had a wide variety of experience. Employer’s look for transferable skills, so list relevant work experience. Showcase the skills you have that an employer would find valuable to their specific field.

4. Proof Read. Don’t rely on spell check alone – it doesn’t have an option for “does this sound intelligent.” Reread and reread and have everyone you know read.

5. Key words and design. Many employers or staffing agency’s pull resumes into a database. If you are applying to a job that has a list of qualifications and responsibilities try using the same language to describe your past accomplishments. Your contact information should be together at the top so a “grabber” tool can easily file all of your information.

Should I send a cover letter?
My opinion? Yes. A cover letter lets me know that someone has done some research on the company and wants to be noticed. It should be kept simple, but supply a good introduction and highlight why you and the employer would specifically be a match. If you are applying for something outside your past experience or education or you are relocating, this is where I would give the explanation.

There are plenty of resources online for writing resumes and cover letters for all levels of experience and industries. It’s hard enough if you don’t have a ton of experience or educational background, so don’t catch yourself getting disqualified for something simple and controllable.