Per Glassdoor, each corporate job opening on average attracts 250 resumes. That’s in a normal economy. You can imagine how selective companies become with unemployment in the double digits.
Traditionally, candidates attempt to stand out with fancy resume templates or fine-tuned cover letters. Those are table stakes in a job application process (but don’t go overboard on the resume). Beyond that, I recommend candidates create a presentation that is tailored to the specific job you are applying for. This is more than a two-sentence blurb stating your career objective.
When you craft this presentation, keep in mind the Top 3 things that employers want to hear from a job applicant:
- Why are you interested in the job?
- Why are you interested in the company?
- Why do you think you are a good fit for the job and the company?
Why You Want The Job
The most effective way to communicate this is by carefully reading the functions listed on the job description. Pick the top three responsibilities and explain why you are passionate about these areas and what makes you uniquely qualified to handle these duties.
Keep your responses concise, and tie your answers to jobs and companies that you’ve worked at in the past. Pro tip: If you can’t find three things to write about, the job is probably not a great fit for you. That’s OK. Be honest with yourself and find another job to apply for. No need to force a square peg in a round hole.
Why You Want To Work At The Company
There are no shortcuts here. Do your research! Learn who the company’s competitors are and why this company is different. What are the company’s unique value propositions? Do they have a special founding story? Read their press releases and any coverage that they receive. See if the executives or hiring managers publish a lot on LinkedIn or Twitter.
A little bit can go a long way here. If you show that you’ve done homework on the company and its people, you will distinguish yourself against 90% of the other candidates.
Why You Are A Fit
You don’t need to have performed the exact same job at a comparable company to illustrate that you are a strong fit for the job. In fact, you may have never worked in the industry before, and the role could be something you’ve never done previously.
The key thing is to be able to translate what you have done to the job and company you are applying for to build confidence in the hiring manager that you can acclimate and exceed their expectations. This requires some creativity, but begin by understanding the role inside and out. Also, learn the company’s core values, and explain how you demonstrated those same characteristics in previous jobs.
It’s A Numbers Game
As cliche as it sounds, applying for jobs is a numbers game. By following this approach, you give yourself the best chance to succeed.
Most people apply without a cover letter, which is a red flag that you are spamming your resume to every job posted. These candidates are routinely rejected immediately.
The next segment of candidates write a detailed cover letter, but they make it all about themselves. This is a big turn-off for most employers, and these candidates often are rejected.
This leaves about 10 percent of candidates who perform due diligence on companies and present a thoughtful case on why they are the right candidate for the job and company. There are no guarantees, but this extra work gives you the best chance to advance to the interview stage.
To learn how to crush an interview, read this.