Saturday, May 4, 2013

Job Tip from Cathy: Running ahead of the Pack

We recently had the question asked of us on how to write a cover letter and resume in the competitive employment world we live in? This is a very good and relevant question.  In today’s economy, a candidate has to be somewhat unique in their approach to stand out. This includes catching and keeping the prospective employer’s attention in a few short seconds. In writing they call it ‘the hook’. A cover letter or resume is no different. Here are a few suggestions you might use to tweak your cover letter and resume to stand out from the crowd and ahead of the pack.

You can customize your resume with a creative motto or unique title. You can place this at the top of the page where it will catch the prospective employer’s attention immediately. This needs to be something that will show your value to the company. If you go to the prospective company’s website you can often times find a mission statement or get an idea of the theme of the company. You can then take the organization’s objective and incorporate it into your cover letter and resume.  In this way you show the common values you share and skills you will bring to the table to benefit the company.  

Oftentimes some companies will actually post a job description. These job descriptions can be incorporated accordingly into your resume and cover letter. Some companies also run resumes through a system that picks up certain ‘buzz words’ of the resume of the candidate for the qualifications they are looking for. Oddly enough many people do not check out the prospective employer’s website before they interview. Doing so can give you the edge over the competition because many people lack the initiative to do this. Go on line and read as much as you can about the company, such as updated news briefs.   

You can always attach current letters of recommendations to set you ahead of the herd when you submit your cover letter and resume. It shows you are prepared, thorough and efficient. You’ve done their work for them. Make sure the contact information on the letters of recommendation is still current.   On LinkedIn you will often see testimonials from current or former co-workers. If you can ask former co-workers to write/post them on your LinkedIn page, you can also compile them in a creative way to submit with your resume. When these are added to your letter(s) of recommendation it is a good way to make a solid, positive impression. If you aren’t already established with LinkedIn, it is a great avenue to utilize for networking.  

If you are looking for creative ideas for your cover letter and resume, you can also go on line and view samples of both. This is a great way to incorporate other’s creative ideas with your own. Or perhaps you will have your own epiphany just by reviewing the samples you research. There are numerous sites you can view on line.  

When you get the interview be prepared with everything you would need if you were hired on the spot. I know of one candidate who had everything that was needed when she went in for the face-to-face interview. She copied everything ahead of time that she knew a prospective employer would ask for once she was hired.  She also had a long list of references and letters of recommendation. She asked a few really GREAT questions during the interview and wrote the answers down on her legal pad that was enclosed in a leather bound binder. She handed the package over to the prospective employer at the beginning of the interview to show her confidence and preparedness. The employer was so impressed with her that she hired the candidate on the spot. Many employers are looking for that special candidate that takes the initiative and thinks outside of the box. Be that candidate.

As far as the statement of goals and objectives goes on a resume, some say it is going the way of the dinosaur. If you do choose to place an objective in your cover letter or resume, make sure it reflects the job at hand you are applying for. It should reflect your skill set, values, and commitment that you will bring to the company. Also, it is not necessary to write on your resume, ‘References available upon request’.  If you happen to have letters of recommendation or testimonials of your talents, (along with a list of your references up front), it’s not needed anyway.

If you incorporate a few of these tweaks into your resume and cover letter, they might just be what it takes to stand out from the herd. Maybe it will even put you in place to be leader of the pack.  In today’s competitive job market, it sure couldn’t hurt.    

Cathy Sage is President of Robert Sage Careers, LLC; an Executive Search Firm and Job Board Publisher that specializes in the Factory-Built Structures Industries. Cathy can be reached at (727) 504-5350 or at   

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