One of the reasons that I write this blog on job search tips and resume writing is to explain what goes into a very complex and mystifying thing called a job search, and also, how to add in the elements you need to produce a knockout cover letter and a great resume.
Another reason is to give back where I can: to help people who are trying to do it all themselves, with just a pinch of help and a small push from a person interested in assisting them to get to that next level.
Free help is also available from the public library, many high school and college career centers, your local state workforce/unemployment offices and some nonprofit companies.
If you are a do-it-yourselfer in the job search and cover letter/resume writer field:
1. Solicit advice, but take the time to sort through it. There are dozens of ways to write a good resume, a great cover letter and how to conduct your job search and all of them are valid. I advise my clients to limit the number of books they consult on these topics and the number of people they ask for opinions.
2. Remember that free advice is free for a reason: It is generic and it does not take into account your accomplishments, your goals and the job you want. Customize your search to you and what you want.
3. Try to see yourself through the eyes of an employer or recruiter. DIY people tend to love and believe in everything that they read and write. How you feel about your search and your documents is not half as important as how a future employer feels. Ask yourself one important question – “Based upon the information in my cover letter, resume and online profile, Would I hire ME?”
4. Many folks try to “Beat the System” or “Stand Out”. Most of the time, by using quirky fonts, colors, keyword spam, QR codes or any other attention-getting devices, you are setting yourself up to fail. What most recruiters and hiring managers want is a cover letter and resume that are clear, accurate, easy to load into an Applicant Tracking System and a match for the skills, experience and fit they are looking for based upon the company culture. That is enough to concentrate on! By creating totally “outside the box” examples, you are inviting them to exclude you from serious consideration. Not to say that the unusual styles don’t work in some fields, like advertising, marketing and for talent both visual and spoken. Just be careful with how much you try to accomplish with your “packaging”. In most situations of job search – LESS IS MORE.
5. Be Yourself. Shakespear always said it best, “To Thine Own Self Be True”. The same can be said for the marketing and producing of yourself in a job search mode. You always tell your own story the best and know truthfully why you are the best fit for a particular position. Make your tale compelling and engage your listener (recruiter, HR Generalist, hiring manager, etc.) and you will move on to the next level in the process and hopefully, land that next great position.