Did you recently quit your job (or just think about doing so) and are looking for greener pastures? Were you part of a restructuring and find yourself unemployed and have little experience regarding securing a job? Whatever your situation may be, it would be to your advantage to study the following tips regarding your resume, cover letter, references, and interview.

First, ensure the job is right for you

While you really might need a job now, before spending time applying, ensure you fit the requirements. If the job ads require a particular skill, certification, or training, unless you are in the process of getting whatever that is, then don’t waste your time applying, especially if the job is highly competitive. Similarly, if a job requires a certain number of years of experience and you don’t meet that threshold, then move on to something else. Finally, ensure this is the right job for you – salary, benefits, location, team, supervisor, job responsibilities. Otherwise, you could do all this work to get a job that doesn’t work for you, and you must start all over again.

Ensure your resume is targeted to the job and error-free

If you apply online, you need to customize your resume to match the company’s needs and include keywords from the job ad every time you apply for a job. Alison Doyle from Balance Careers explains that “Keywords are words or short phrases that relate to particular requirements for a job. They are the skills, abilities, credentials, and qualities that a hiring manager looks for in a candidate.” The resume is where mistakes can happen. For example, if you apply for an accounting job, you should detail your accounting experience on your resume. Typographical and grammatical errors are serious no-nos. Even if you had a professional write your resume, before submitting it to a prospective employer, check it for corrections at least three times before handing it over.


Ensure to customize your cover letter or e-note

With the current technology trend and its merging with business processes, more and more companies are now requiring prospective applicants to submit their applications online.  Thus, first impressions are relayed not by your first appearance but by the quality and content of your cover letter or E-note. These should be polished and well-articulated. When creating your note, use the following tips:

  • Complete your sentences and do not abbreviate.

Employers do not like when you send them a cover letter or e-note that seems too casual. It is essential to make a letter that is both formal and well written. It will give a good impression regarding your capabilities and skills. 

  • Get directly to the point

When writing a cover letter or e-note, you must be concise and straightforward. Now is not the time to tell us one of your SPAR (aka SOAR, CAR) stories to get the employer’s attention. Save that for the interview.

  • Don’t duplicate your resume

Design your cover letter or e-note to entice the reader to review your resume, not to be a copy of it. Do your research! Let the reader know why you want to work there. What makes that company or job unique to you? Show the reader that you are the best person for that job. Your goal is to give them a taste of what will be found in the resume and sprinkle in some details that won’t be there to sweeten the pot, so to speak.

Ensure to get the necessary referrals

Having a referral from one of the company employees can go a long way toward landing an interview.  A typical company may receive job applications in the hundreds, and usually, 35% to 60% of all job vacancies are filled by referrals. The odds of getting hired when you have a referral are incredibly high if you have another 200 to 500 applicants vying for the same position. If you do not know anyone from the company that may give you a referral, consult your college alumni network, trade groups, social networks, and professional associations. Remember, having a referral significantly increases your chances of getting the position.

Ensure you give the best impression before and during the interview

A survey conducted by a staffing and consulting firm based in California, which corresponded with 1,400 Chief Financial Officers, concluded that candidates made most of their mistakes during their job interview. Some of the errors they made included: arriving late, having little knowledge about the company and the position applied, having a superiority complex, and behaving arrogantly.

Be aware of your non-verbal communication. Sometimes how you say something is more important than what you say.  Your body language should denote that you are confident, yet not overpowering. You must maintain eye contact (but not creep them out by staring at them the whole time), have a firm handshake, and whatever you do, please don’t cross your arms as it will make you look defensive or you have something to hide.  Wearing the appropriate clothing is crucial for projecting a confident stance. As they say, it is better to go to an interview over-dressed than being under-dressed.

Ensure to answer questions intelligently

A common mistake of interviewees is that they tend to get tense and forget the questions given to them, making it seem that they are not prepared for the interview. It is essential to research the company and its position to prevent being side-tracked during the interview. If you do not know the answer to the questions being asked, it is better to admit you don’t know the answer to the question and add that you can research about it. Look for the skills or expertise that the company is seeking so that when interview day comes and the interviewer asks about your strengths and core competencies (click link for examples), you will match it to what they need.

Final Thoughts

Getting the position that you want may be a challenge but never lose hope. Don’t make your decision out of desperation, but rather, from a place of confidence, knowing that you are the best person for the job. It is better to wait a while and get the job that you will enjoy and works with your lifestyle than to get a job as soon as possible but ending up frustrated and unhappy. Finally, until you are sitting at your new desk, you must continue your search; never put all your hopes on that one job. By following these tips, you increase your chances of landing the right job for you.

Clair Levy from Precision Resume Solutions has helped executives and other job seekers make successful career transitions for more than a decade. As a Certified Resume Writer, Clair composes compelling, customized, targeted resumes, cover letters, and other job search materials.  If you know what job you’re looking for, Clair can help you land it.