When they review your cover letter and resume, managers need to see a specific list of items, explanations, qualifications and personal traits. If these things don’t appear, your application won’t accomplish its mission and you may not even enter the running. What’s more, these items will need to appear in the specific places where your readers expect to find them. If they show up hidden, buried, or suggested instead of clearly stated, they won’t score any points.
At the same time, your readers will also review your resume with another set of items in mind: The things they want. These are the traits and qualifications that don’t just get you into the race, but actually push you ahead of your competitors and into the spotlight. If you can include both sets of items, and you can position them in a way that makes the most of your reader’s limited attention, you’ll be on your way to a second round review, an interview invitation, and a job offer. As with many aspects of life and work, your success will come down to one thing: understanding the line between fitting in and standing out.
What Managers Need
You simply must have these things in your letter and resume.
1. A summary.
Don’t make potential employers read your entire resume if they don’t want to. Insert a short summary of your entire document somewhere close to the top of the page, and make sure this summary can stand on its own. If they read nothing else, make sure your readers can use these three or four lines to get a strong sense of who you are, what you want, and what you have to offer.
2. Evidence that you hold the education credentials the job requires.
Whatever education criteria these employers require, show that you have it. List your credentials under your summary and include all degrees, certifications, and recent training courses.
3. Reassurance that you’ve done this kind of work before.
Your work history will fall below your education section, and employers will skim this section to make sure you hold the minimum requirements for this position.
4. Signs of basic geniality and competence.
Your skills section and the overall presentation of your resume will need to show employers that you’re sane, trustworthy, decent, reliable, and hard working. If your resume is well written, typo free, and formatted according to accepted business standards, you can check this off the list.
What Managers Want
These might not qualify as “must-haves,” but they’ll set your application apart from the crowd.
1. Evidence that you’re interested in this specific job.
A few signs that you’ve tailored your application to the needs of the job and spent a minute or two reviewing the company’s website can give your resume a huge boost. Sure, you want a job. Everyone does. But managers like to see that you want this specific job, and if you’ll probably say yes if they make you an offer.
2. Evidence that you’ve done EXACTLY this type of work before.
You’ve managed accounts in the past. And that’s great if you’re looking for work as an accounts manager. But if you’ve managed accounts for this exact client demographic, or courted this exact target market, or fixed this exact type of machinery, you’re golden.
3. Evidence that you aren’t just nice…you’re a cultural match.
Being personable and easy to work with is fine. That’s the minimum. But if you’re a perfect match for this type of workplace (goofy, fun loving, hyper competitive, collaborative, friendly, reserved, traditional, innovative, etc.), then it will be very difficult for managers to let you go.
Send a Clear Message
Let employers know that you’re a legitimate and serious candidate, but don’t stop there. Visit LiveCareer and give your resume reviewers what they want, not just what they need.