Job hunting? Impressive effort required

Becky Ripper

Ready to make a great first impression on a potential employer? Here’s a checklist to help make the job hunting process easier and to make your resume and job application stand out from the others. There’s some information  here business owners and managers might want to review as well about what they should expect from good candidates.

Apply for jobs for which you’re actually qualified. Don’t waste your time or an employer’s time applying for a position for which you’re not even remotely qualified. You might find yourself applying because it could be an area of work you want to get into, but don’t bother. You need to quickly qualify yourself as a potential candidate because the employer might not take the time to do it for you.

Write an eye-catching cover letter. Many applicants aren’t aware of the importance of a good cover letter.  When an employer digs through a pile of resumes, a cover letter could constitute the difference in drawing attention to your resume. Highlight your key qualifications that show how you fit the position. The letter should be formally addressed (Mr., Ms., etc.) to the person conducting the job search, if known. State specifically the position for which you’re applying. Correct spelling and grammar as well as overall appearance are essential.

Tailor your resume to specifically fit the job opening. In other words, one size doesn’t fit all. An employer can tell when an applicant sends out resumes in bulk in an effort to land any job. Forget canned phrases that read, “Seeking a long-term position with a progressive employer where I can contribute my skills … .” Speak specifically about the position and customize your resume for each job to which you apply.

In customizing your resume, start out with the background and experience most important for the position you seek. The stage of your career is also highly relevant to where you place information on your resume. If you’ve just graduated from college, lead off with information about your education and degree. If you’re a seasoned veteran, lead off with a summary of  accomplishments followed by jobs, titles and responsibilities. A person with certifications might want to list those before jobs and education. The key objective is to show you’re qualified for the position. Include both your home and cell phone numbers. Make sure the resume is easy to read, clear and concise. Carefully search out and correct any typographical errors. Don’t be afraid to blow your own horn, but remain honest about your achievements and responsibilities.

Don’t go fishing with phone calls. Applicants who call an employer to “see if they received their resumes” are wasting their time. This makes a lasting bad impression.  These calls rarely help and can brand you as a pain.

Many employers conduct short telephone interviews before inviting you to a face-to-face interview. Be prepared if you’re asked about your salary expectations. Most of the time a salary range is set with a lot of variables in mind, including the local job market and salaries of co-workers. Further prepare for interviews by researching the company. Completing this type of homework dramatically increases your chances of obtaining a face-to-face interview and a job offer.

Think about the impression you’ll make the moment you walk in the door … from the receptionist to other staff members to the interviewer. Show up on time, dress neatly and appropriately for the position at hand and bring additional resumes with references with you. Remember to treat every person you encounter with dignity and respect.

A face-to-face interview will help determine if you’re a good fit for the company. There could be other candidates who’re just as qualified as you or even more so. But you could be the one candidate who appears to fit in better. This is your opportunity to convey to the potential employer you’re confident you can do the job. Remember, too, an interview also affords an opportunity to find out if the job or company is right for you.

Write a follow-up thank-you letter no more than two business days after an interview. Thank the employer for their interest and reiterate your interest in the position and the organization. Remind the employer about your qualifications for the position. You also could use this opportunity to mention something you might have forgotten in the interview. Above all, a thank-you letter demonstrates good manners. 

Doing the right things right will result in more interviews and, as a result, more job offers. Take the extra time and go the extra mile, and you’ll rise above the pack.