There are plenty of tips out there about how to rock a job application and land an interview. There is heaps of good advice about what to wear to your interview and how to get your dream job. I am by no means a professional hiring manager. But this past year, I did a little bit of hiring of my own. Sitting on the other end of the table is definitely a weird experience, for those of you who don’t know. It gave me a lot of insight into the mentality of employers. Here are a few things that I have learned about job applications. Maybe they can help you get a leg up in the process.
1. For the love of everything, be different.
Employers say this all the time, but many people do not understand the gravity of the situation. If you see a job posting for your dream job in marketing, for example, do not – I repeat, DO NOT—begin your cover letter with the following: I have a passion for marketing.
Because I hope you do. If your passion is actually for anthropology than why are you even applying for the position in the first place? Biggest tip ever: everyone applying for the job has a passion for marketing. What makes you different from them?
Maybe it’s your experience. Maybe it’s your unique point of view. Maybe you have a cool anecdote about why you developed this passion in the first place. Seriously, be different. Because after reading the thirtieth cover letter that begins with “I have a passion for…” the hiring manager will not keep reading. Kiss your dream job goodbye.
2. Stop making it about you.
Some people write things in their application like this: “I am looking to advance in the field,” or “I am looking for a more challenging opportunity than my current employment offers me.” These things can turn off an employer pretty quickly.
First, job hoppers and demanding employees aren’t exactly what the company is looking for. Second, in order to impress an employer, you might want to talk about what you can do for them. Not the other way around. While it is definitely important to choose a workplace and a salary that you are comfortable with, in order to get them to choose you, it is important to stop making it about your needs and to consider the needs of the company.
3. Don’t be arrogant.
In the paragraph preceding this article, I wrote that I am not a huge expert on the hiring process. But if I said that I totally know everything you need to know to get that dream job then you probably would have looked at my bio and laughed, right? Same goes for applications. Be humble. Don’t assume that after reading your cover letter the employer “will surely want to know more” about you. They probably won’t. Not after that.
4. NO TYPOS.
Or grammatical errors. This goes for everything and not just because I am a writer. If you are applying for a job in the writing/editing field and you misspell your own name on your cover letter, then LOL. But really, it’s bad. You lose all credibility. At worst, you look slightly illiterate. At best, you look lazy.
Here are some editing tips I’ve learned over the years. Send it to a friend. A fresh pair of eyes will always catch what you’ve missed after staring at your computer screen for hours on end. Try reading your cover letter backwards. Our brains tend to trick our eyes into filling in the blank when we know what’s coming next. If you read it backwards, you will pay attention.
5. Learn to take rejection in stride.
This is pretty much a life lesson. Rejection is difficult whether it’s dished out by a potential mate or a potential employer. It’s not the rejection but how you deal with it that matters. I have received lovely emails from people saying, “Thank you for the interview,” and that’s it. I have also gotten elaborately constructed emails from people who are simply sore losers.
Here’s a hint: it’s not making me look bad or feel bad, but it’s keeping you on my radar as someone to avoid. And if that employer knows other employers, then your chances could be ruined across a whole network of people. Keep it classy. Use rejection as a springboard to hone your skills and land an even better position next time. Say thanks and move on.
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