When applying for any job you will likely be one of many applicants. While that’s not meant to intimidate you, it is important to present yourself on paper in the best possible light to ensure you get a call to interview.
Your cover letter and resume must pass three major Elimination Rounds in your quest for a job offer:
Round 1: The First Glance Test
In the 10 seconds or so that you take to read this, a hiring manager will screen your cover letter and resume. 80% are eliminated.
Round 2: Gone in 60 Seconds
Of the remaining candidates, each resume is reviewed for about a minute. Only a handful are called to interview.
Final Elimination Round: The Interview
From the candidates interviewed, there can be only one job offer.
How can your resume and cover letter best survive the elimination rounds to earn an interview? First, it is important to understand the role of each component.
Your Cover Letter
Your cover letter might just secure your resume a second glance during the initial screening, the one in which 80% of resumes are eliminated from the running.
The cover letter is your opportunity to introduce yourself as a job candidate. Remember that saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”? The cover letter is your chance to make a great first impression. Craft it well and it will:
- Make a savvy introduction as a candidate
- Present your personality and how it might benefit the company culture
- Convey your knowledge of the company and industry to which you’re applying
- Stand out—not everyone writes a targeted cover letter or presents themselves clearly
- Highlight especially relevant elements
- Ensure that your resume makes it through the first glance elimination
Your resume’s role is to prove that you meet all the job requirements and that you are the right individual to meet the company’s needs. A hiring manager can determine all sorts of other characteristics from your resume, as well – your computer skills, decision-making, organization, whether you do your (home-) work, if you are detail-oriented, know how to prioritize, and on and on.
A great resume can:
- Show how you meet the job requirements
- Demonstrate your clear and organized thinking and presentation
- Convey your understanding of the company’s needs and how you are the answer
- Use formatting to highlight relevant details
- Earn the interview!
Once upon a time, a resume was a laundry list of historical data. Today, it can be so much more. Your resume can act as your personal branding strategy.
If you aren’t getting interviews for positions for which you are qualified, you might want to hone your skills to craft an improved cover letter, resume, follow-up letter, even references. Check the other pages of this section or the site and also follow our “Work It” blog for helpful information on finding a great job!