5 Important Tips for Resumes, Cover Letters, and the Career Search

There are many factors to consider when beginning your job search. The problems that most run into are very simple to fix, and can dramatically increase your responses and job offers. Here are five of the most important tips to keep in mind while searching for your dream job.

1. While consulting a client about their resume, the first question they asked me was,

“Do I really need an objective?”

Believe it or not, I have since been asked this question over 10 different times. Not only do you need an objective on your resume, you also need to realize that it is the single most important phrase that your employer is going to concentrate on. I understand that it can be difficult to succinctly collect your vast interests, ambitions, hopes and dreams into a one-two sentence statement. But, your prospective employer does not know you, does not talk to you at home, hang out with your friends; they are concerned about their company, and if you working there would be mutually beneficial. When writing your objective, focus on the specific job you are applying for, put yourself in the prospective employer’s shoes and think, “Does my objective match up with what this company wants from an employee? With the job I am currently applying to?”

Make it specific, and please change it according to every job you are applying for. It is tempting to draft one resume and submit it to a dozen different places, just hoping for the best. But, you will never get the job you truly want this way, and employers looking at resumes all day long can target generalized nonsense from a mile away; leading to your mass distributed resume, ending up in a mass amount of waste baskets. This preludes to me to my second tip�

2. Apply for positions you are genuinely interested in�Be choosey.

Only apply for jobs that you are qualified for, in your salary range, and you would definitely plan on accepting if offered to you. If you apply for 20 different positions because you weren’t sure if you would get the one you wanted, often times it becomes overwhelming and you tend to forget what kind of job you actually want. Finding a job does not follow the popular idiom “Safety in numbers.” Because, you shouldn’t be looking for something safe, or else you could mooch off your parents instead of looking for a job at all. You should be looking to start a rewarding career, where you can be proud of what you do, and the company you work for can be proud of you. You deserve it!

I counseled a recent graduate who received a BA in writing for media. He knew he loved to write, and loved the technology industry, but didn’t feel like he could make the salary he desired in this field coming right out of college. He applied for any and every job he qualified for and met his salary requirements. Many of them were sales positions, because they require the least amount of experience, and often pay a decent base salary. He ended up accepting the first job offered to him; outside sales, selling cleaning products to businesses, making a decent base wage.

Of course he was fired after one month, because he didn’t want to be a sales person and the company picked up on that. Only a month after being fired, learning the hard way, he started being picky about the jobs he was applying for and landed a position as a media manager editing content, copy, and website information. He doesn’t make quite as much, but he’s happier, more successful within the position, and up for more rewarding advancement opportunities.

Narrowing you search down is beneficial in a number of ways, but it helps you concentrate on the quality of each resume submission, and the effort you put forth during the interview process, and of course, in your cover letter�

3. Always, always, always submit a cover letter.

If you don’t submit a cover letter, the other people competing for that job will. What will you be then? That measly little wallflower-resume sitting at the bottom of the pile of coupled cover letters and resumes ready to laugh right in your face. Ok, well, it’s really not like that at all, but you get my drift.

Even if you were the kid in class who always turned in the bare minimum to you English teacher, this is different, because the reward is money in your pocket and possibly a swanky title to go with it. Cover letters are very important and allow your potential employer to get a small glimpse of the type of person that you are, not just what you’ve done. In your cover letter you should always include a simple anecdote illustrating why you want this particular position so much, and what makes you uniquely qualified. It helps to compliment the company as a whole while doing thisâÂ?¦.For example,

“The decision made in the 2001 trial advocating the rights of the animals at the Chicago zoo, was truly inspiring, and I remember thinking that I wanted to be a part of something so special.”

It sounds cheesy, because this is an example, but within the right context something like this will make you appear (not that you aren’t) thoughtful, interesting, interested, and devoted to the line of work and the company you are applying to.

I suggest really thinking of all the reasons you want this position, and what about the company sticks out to you. Draft up a casual letter, one you might write to a friend describing your interest in the position and why you feel you are the best for it. Then begin writing your formal letter using the appropriate cover letter format. Use the casual draft only as a reference tool and inspiration for your final letter.

4. Don’t low ball yourself.

While highlighting your abilities, accomplishments, and previous work in your resume, don’t make it sound less than what it was. If you were an assistant at an office, but ended up taking care of all the books and keeping track of the moneys coming in and out, include that in your resume!

In fact, you should always enhance your abilities to gear it towards the position for which you are applying. Some people are uncomfortable doing this because they are afraid that the potential employer won’t think they’ve lived up to their paper counterpart. This is no time to catch the low self esteem fever. This is your future, your life, your money! You can do anything you put your mind to, especially if you’ve done it before. And, if you’re driven enough, which you should be, you can spend time out of work for the first few weeks studying harder at your trade, and trying to live up to your full potential.

Another reason why you have to fluff up your accomplishments is because for everyone who doesn’t exaggerate (just a little you know) there are 10 people who will accentuate their resume, and as far as the employer knows, they’re just better than you! So in conclusion, don’t low ball yourself, you can be a champion, go for the gold!

5. Final tip on this listâÂ?¦Go for the gold, but please, don’t take steroidsâÂ?¦

When drafting you resume, make sure to include the relevant information and as I said in tip #4, write it so it truly illustrates your abilities and sounds professional, but don’t just straight up lie. This is kind of a cut and dry thing; you know why you shouldn’t lie on your resume, so I don’t think I need to spend too much time on this last tip. But I will say, what do you get out of lying on a resume?

If you lie and get caught, you are going to feel smaller than a needle stuck in a festively plump man’s buttocks.

If you lie and don’t get caught, and get the job! Either they’ll assume you had the experience you lied about having and be disappointed when you don’t, or you’ll always have that innate fear inside you wonderingâÂ?¦Did they find out?

If you lie, don’t get caught, but don’t get the job either. You’ll always know you’re a big fat liar, and be forced to repeat the wise old idiom “liars never prosper” 2,000 times backwards in your head. That’s no fun at all, is it?

These are just some of the important tips you should keep in mind while searching for a new job. There are many more, and stay tuned for a list dedicated solely to resumes, one to cover letters, and one to interviewing techniques.

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