Posted At: October 22, 2012 2:00 P.M.
by Becca Bryant
This reoccurring question has begun to haunt me.
Finding a job has been the most stressful task I’ve ever faced. It’s intimidating and tedious. Sitting down in front of the computer, getting ready to send my first application, worry comes over me. A million questions race through my mind: Did I do everything right? Did I spellcheck? Are they going to like me?
Companies face a seemingly never-ending pile of letters and applications in addition to an overflowing inbox. You have to make sure your application is not the one getting tossed to the side or sent to the trash.
After this intense freak out, I decided to make a list of the things I needed to do in order to make my cover letter and résumé the best they can be before sending them to each prospective employer.
Don’t be boring
Break through the cookie-cutter template of cover letters and résumés. Show your personality. A résumé is a snapshot of all of the work you have done, while a cover letter is a way to display yourself in a broader sense. Use the cover letter to showcase your character and passion. Being different helps you rise up in a sea of monotony.
Don’t make a mistake
No pressure, right? It sounds scary, but it is crucial. Proofreading will never be a thing of the past. Do not rely on spellcheck alone. Get a fresh pair of eyes (and another … and maybe one more for good measure} to read over it. Employers will not tolerate grammatical errors.
Know the business
You have been taught all the right PR tools. Now, show the employer you know the business. Embrace PR jargon and use it to your advantage. Words and phrases such as “digital landscape,” “communication plan,” “media training,” “influence” and “pitch” are hot button words that will grab a hiring manager’s attention and help you gain credibility. Be careful that your hot button words accurately reflect your experience.
Cater to the company
Do your research for each company you apply for. Reference its progress, case studies or specific work for a client. This speaks volumes to an employer. It shows you have genuine interest in the company and the work it has produced. You can also use this research to specifically explain why you are the best candidate for the position.
Show the employer your social media expertise (I know you have it). Include links to your social platforms and/or your online portfolio. We know how important social media has become for people as well as companies. By now, we should also know to be wary of how we portray ourselves online. Therefore, be open with potential employers about how you exercise your social media knowledge.
I know what you’re thinking . . . but you would be surprised at the way people carelessly approach this serious task. First and foremost, be respectful when communicating. Whether it is via email, phone call or one-on-one communication, carry yourself like a professional. The T-shirt and sweats you wear to class every day are not acceptable in the real world. Put on your suit and your smile, and go get ’em!
The follow up is tricky. You want to steer clear of being too pushy. Wait a minimum of seven business days. You have to give them time to make a dent in the stack of applications. Remind them who you are and the position you are applying for. Ask questions, but do so carefully and tactfully. Lastly, always (always!) thank them for their consideration.
You have worked extremely hard for the past four years to prepare yourself for this moment. You are finally ready and the real world is waiting. Good luck!