Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A few tips about applying for jobs

Because PT is hiring, as I wrote in yesterday's blog entry, I've been thinking a lot about people who are applying for jobs.  I've also heard a lot of interesting comments from those of our staff who are reviewing resumes and cover letters.  Between those comments and my own past experiences, I thought it might be useful for me to share a few basic job-application tips.

Do your homework before you apply.  

Learn about the company to which you're applying.  Visit its Web site.  Check out its products.  Learn enough that you know what the company does and how your skill sets might help it.  If your written submission or your interview convince people you know nothing about their company, your chances of getting hired will drop precipitously.

Send a cover letter, even if only a brief one.

This is your chance to introduce yourself.  Take advantage of the opportunity.  Don't write a massive missive, but do motivate anyone reading the letter to check out your resume and then contact you.

Send a one-page, well-formatted resume.

I'm not going to outline what a resume should include, because that information is easy enough to find online.  I will say that most people don't need more than one page to hold their resumes--I don't--and the key to fitting all your background in that page is to be succinct and clear.

Spelling and grammar matter.

Regardless of the job you're applying for, your spelling and grammar really do matter.  I don't care what any teacher told you:  people who review cover letters and resumes will notice mistakes.

Avoiding these errors is also easy.  Word's spellchecker and grammar checker can help a lot.  So can your friends, or reading aloud these pieces, or just checking them a few times.

These two facets of your submissions matter even more if you're applying to be a writer.  If you can't get them right on the materials you send to represent you, why should any potential employer believe you will turn in grammatically correct work for them?

Make sure you're a match for the job requirements, or explain why a company should consider you anyway.

If you want to get past the initial filtering most companies will do, your resume and cover letter must make clear that you have the skills the companies are seeking.  If your background doesn't make that point for you, then you have to explain why a potential employer should consider you despite these apparent shortcomings.

Triple-check your materials to make sure they address the company to which you're applying.

Nothing says "I couldn't care less about you" than applying to company X and saying in your cover letter how much you could help company Y.  Yes, we all make cut-and-paste errors, but we should strive to avoid them, because they pave fast paths to the trash can for your application.

I know all of these tips are basics, notions any job seeker should already know, but trust me when I say that people routinely ignore one or more of them in their applications.  In fact, as best I can tell--and this is informal data, not a sure thing--more submissions we see violate these basic principles than follow them.

Doing that almost never goes well for the applicant.

No comments:


Blog Archive