Life & work tipsPassion 10 August 2017
How to get the job interview on your first try

What does it take to get the job interview on your first try? A good resume and the perfect cover letter that’s been written with confidence and reflects your authenticity. Sounds impossible? We get it: getting the right words down on paper is hard. Here’s a guide on what to do and what to not do. Remember: a great resume will get you not-rejected, a great cover letter will get you hired.

Sounds impossible? We get it.

Getting the right words down on paper is hard. Remember: a great resume will get you not-rejected, a great cover letter will get you hired. Here’s a guide on what to do and what to not do.

Before you start out, make sure you’re perfectly aware of the fact that a recruiter reads literally hundreds of cover letters every week and you’ve only got six seconds to make the right impression with a prospective employer. Your cover letter is an opportunity to stand out from the crowd and convince the recruiter to put you through to the next round. Therefore, research is crucial.

Research phase
Make sure you research the company thoroughly prior to writing your cover letter. Why? According to this website, 47% of all candidates have little or no knowledge of the company and hiring managers will reject candidates who do so. Your task is to learn as much about this company as possible. Research the website, read, take notes. Make sure you know what their services are, what their history has been like and know their philosophy and mission statement. Determine how you fit the company’s requirements (and make them believe you are like them). Also, every company has room for improvement. Find a missing link you could fix. What can you offer a company that would benefit them and provides the return you are looking for? Meet the company’s needs.

Your cover letter
Writing the perfect cover letter isn’t magic. It’s a marketing pitch – it draws the reader in and encourages the recruiter to read more. You end up telling him or her why you’re the right person for the job. Start off with a good intro. Your goal is to grab the recruiter’s attention and do it quickly. Introduce yourself and give the recruiter a sense of who you are and, most importantly, why they should hire you. Whatever you do, keep things sweet and to the point. It’s an intro. Also, depending on the company, you could give a relevant compliment somewhere in your intro (make sure you’ve read the latest news on the company).

Then, point out your experience and outline your skills by mirroring them to the requirements listed in the job description. Try and avoid copying the exact words in the job description, and make sure it’s not a direct copy of the description. Use it as a common thread running through your letter. You can tell a lot from a job description, like the tone of voice. Is it appropriate to make a good one-liner? Or is the job description pretty formal? Discover the tone of voice and make it your own. Whatever you do, don’t use a cover letter to repeat your resume, but try to refine what sets you apart from other candidates. Also, avoid cliches and add smart words to your story. Wrap your letter up with a thank you and eagerness to join. Remember: cover letters should always be less than one page.

Janine, queen of cover letters: “Prevent yourself from writing paragraphs and paragraphs and rather really narrowing down on what you want to say is probably one of the hardest parts of crafting an email. Once you get that down though, revise, revise, revise (and make sure there are no errors!).”

Every cover letter takes a different approach. But you’ll find some perfect examples here and here.

> More tips & tricks? How to: get fully prepared for that job interview

Your resume
If you want to make a good first impression, your resume needs to be as relevant and powerful as can be. Use power verbs, avoid cliches and make sure you’re selective with the jobs and project you include. A scientific eye-tracking study on resumes tells us recruiters spend a whopping 80% of their time on 6 crucial data points. Make sure these details are clear and you double checked all the details. Then arrange the dates of your work (try to cluster project based work – you don’t want huge list), in a way that makes sense to both you and the employer. The crucial points are:

Name (for obvious reasons)
Current title and company
Previous title and company
Current start and end dates
Previous start and end dates

What you definitely need on your resume
– Relevant info (stick to the facts, select the projects that are relevant for this position)
– A good, professional photo
– Avoid negativity
– Add contact information
– Keep it under two pages

Tailor your resume
We believe every different job needs a different resume. Therefore, tailor your resume for each employer. One of the most common mistakes is to create a standard resume and send that out to all the job openings you can possibly find. Sure, it might save you some time, but it also greatly decreases the chances of landing that dream job interview. A friend of mine uses the logo and colors of the company in her resume and cover letter. It’s simple, it’s a great gesture. If you do it well, that is.

Nope, Word templates with plain layouts don’t stand out from the crowd. Catch attention by dressing up your resume and make it visually appealing. And yes, you can build a well-designed resume with zero experience in InDesign or Photoshop. How? Buy a cool design on Etsy or built one with Canva, our favorite (and free!) online tool. Impact: guaranteed. But remember. Don’t go too funky on designing and try to keep the layout clean. Nobody would probably ever got a job using Comic Sans MS. A safe font option is Arial, Calibri or Times New Roman, font size 11.

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