Welcome to Asked&Answered, our monthly column in which Ellen Mehling, METRO's Career Development Consultant, tackles reader questions on job hunting and career development. If you'd like to submit a question, please visit our submission form.
How can I make myself stand out from other applicants? What tips do you have for making a good impression on a hiring committee?
It's tempting to want to go "out of the box" to get the attention of a potential employer, but I recommend a traditional approach. Start with a well written, engaging, customized cover letter and a resume edited to include and highlight things relevant to the position. Read the job description carefully and address all of the requirements in your documents.
Be sure to avoid cliché and hyperbole and explain clearly in your cover letter why you believe you are a strong candidate. Offer a brief (brief!) story or a fact or two about you, again, relevant to the job you are applying for – some additional information that is not on the resume. These things will make you stand out in a positive way.
It is also a good idea to convey your enthusiasm for the work you do, and demonstrate a bit of your personality in your cover letter. A resume is really “just the facts” but in the cover letter you can try to give the reader some sense of what you’d be like to work with. Hopefully that, combined with skills and experience that closely match what the employer is seeking, will lead to a call for an interview.
If there is someone at that workplace who knows you and would be willing and able to put in a good word for you, that may boost your chances too. Many aspects of job searching have changed in recent years, but your best bet is still networking and a strong resume and cover letter tailored to each specific job.