3 Job Search Techniques

August 28th, 2013 No comments

Applying for jobs is a two-way street: Just as employers pick who they want to hire, you get to pick where and who you want to work with. Throughout the search process, remember you also have the right to choose your employer. If you don’t like the way you are treated as a candidate, you still have the option to withdraw your application — or turn down a job if you don’t feel that the culture is a fit. Regardless of what happens in the process, don’t forget that you have the power in this part of the hiring process.

If you experience roadblocks as you apply for a job — but still remain interested in the job — here are three easy action steps.

1. Take a personal approach. yawning at 942Whenever possible, apply for positions as early as possible and address your application to a real person. (If the job description doesn’t include a name, use LinkedIn or Google to find the name of the person that has the same title mentioned in the job description as the Supervisor. Then address your cover letter and email to this person.)


2. Know where you stand in the applicant pool. Many companies provide applicants with status updates on their application, but — traditionally — you can only see this data if you log back into the website where you applied for the job.

StartWire provides you with a free way to get these updates on the status of your applications at 8,000+ companies. Just sign up for an account, tell us where you’ve applied and track your application — and we’ll tell you if we can send you updates.

If you should be able to get updates on your application, and if there’s no record of your application — check back with the company and confirm that your application was received.


3. Enlist the help of friends and colleagues for an “in.” As we’ve discussed, getting a referral and word-of-mouth shout-out that you’d be great for a job is one of the best ways to get hired. Here’s how to get a referral even if you don’t know someone.


Categories: Job Search Advice Tags:

How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter

May 21st, 2013 No comments

Let’s talk cover letters. If you’re like most people I know, you enjoy writing cover letters about as much as you like going to the dentist – or, worse yet – going in for a root canal. Finding the right words to describe how your skills fit with a job can be cumbersome – just like taking dental x-rays from odd angles with foreign objects in your mouth!

But cover letters don’t have to be awkward.6609308571_9f49b95257_o The very best cover letters showcase your fit for a job and say why you are interested in working for an organization – all while providing your prospective employer with a glimpse of your personality and talent. (You can spot a bad cover letter quickly if all of the sentences start with “I.”)

Here’s a foolproof way you can write a great cover letter in 30 minutes or less:  Anticipate the questions employers will have for you, and answer them.

Recruiters and hiring managers want to know the answer to 4 questions:

1. How did you hear of the job?

This may seem like a silly interest since it has little to do with you, but employers want to know how you learned about the job – it tells them if their advertising is working.

2. How do you meet the position requirements?

Because employers often hire for more than one position at a time – it never hurts to briefly summarize the job requirements before showcasing your experience.

3. Why are you interested in the job?

Although it may not often seem like it, employers are as eager to hire employees who want to work for them as you are to get a job. You need to go beyond “I need a job” and state what particularly interests you about the company and the position.

4. Will they like you?

Do you say thank you? Is your overall tone friendly?

Here’s how this looks in a letter:

Your Address (Leave name and cell phone off the top of your letter)

City, State Zip

Today’s Date

Person’s Name
Street Address
City, State, Zip Code (Or Country)

Dear Search Committee:

Through my friend (insert name or other source of job listing), I learned that (company name) is accepting applications for a (insert position title). I write to apply for the position.

Based on the position description, I understand you are looking for someone who can do (insert one job function/responsibility), (insert another responsibility) and (insert another responsibility). I offer you a demonstrated ability to perform these tasks as can be seen through my work with (insert name of past employer). In this role, I (summarize relevant experience here).

I am especially interested in working for you due to (insert reason other than high pay or free lunch, show you’ve looked up the company). This opportunity also is a strong match for my career goals of (provide information that relates to the job opening and if appropriate share a brief example of how the position matches your interests.)

Thanks in advance for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you soon.


And that’s it: short, sweet and to the point.


Categories: Resume Tips Tags:

How to Follow-Up On Your Job Application

May 16th, 2013 No comments

At StartWire, we believe you deserve to be treated well by your potential employers, regardless of whether you are selected for the job! This is why we offer a free way to get status updates on your job applications from over 7,000 companies.

aaaaaaaaWe also think you should communicate with your potential employer to make sure that they’ve seen your application. This is why we recommend you follow-up with employers to confirm your application within two weeks. If you’ve received an interview, we also advocate for thoughtful thank you notes.

But what should you do if you don’t hear back from the employer at all after you’ve sent in your application, or if the feedback you receive simply says “you are no longer under consideration”?

We think it’s worth following up with every employer you apply to — at least once. Here’s our short guide on what to say and when in awkward situations:


If you’ve applied for a job and it’s been re-posted:

  • Don’t assume the employer isn’t interested. Instead, call HR or the hiring manager and summarize your skills: “I see you’ve re-listed the Director of Marketing position that I applied for in June. I’m (name) and I have over 10 years experience in the field. Would you like for me to submit my credentials again?”
  • When to do this: Within three days of the job being re-posted. (Note: All jobs on the StartWire site are less than two weeks old. Do not be alarmed if they are re-posted. Employers often re-post simply to receive fresh interest in the job listing while a search is under way.
  • When not to do this: If you’ve given up on the job, and have decided you are no longer interested.

If you’ve been told you are no longer “under consideration”:

  • What to say: Thank you for letting me know of your decision on my application. While disappointed, I remain interested in exploring other opportunities at your company especially as I am so impressed with your work in __________. I continue to feel that I could contribute in ________ department. What’s the best way to stay in touch? And in the interim, is there anything I can do for you to help increase awareness of your _____________ (insert product or service that organization is known for)?
  • When to do this: Within three days of receiving your rejection letter. Read our past articles to learn how to respond if you think you were seen as overqualified or under-qualified.
  • When not to do this: If you don’t like the company or feel that you wouldn’t want to work for them, either!

If you haven’t heard back after an interview:

  • What to say: Thanks again for your consideration for __________ position. I am writing to let you know that I remain interested. Please let me know if you have need of receiving any additional materials.
  • When to do this: Follow-up on your thank you note either two business days before the anticipated decision deadline or shortly after the deadline date has passed.
  • When not to do this: If you’ve followed up once by phone and e-mail, don’t follow-up again. You don’t want to be seen as a stalker or desperately needing this job. (Note: Apply for other jobs while you wait to hear back, too!)
    There’s one exception to this rule: If you receive another job offer, you can call and let them know you have the offer — and you can say, “I remain interested in your job, but need to let the organization that has extended me an offer know by ______ date. Can you tell me whether or not this fits into your hiring timeline for the position?” (If they really want you, they will often speed up the process, but don’t make up an offer just to make it happen.)

Do you have any questions or thoughts on these strategies? What’s worked for you? Share.




Categories: Job Search Advice Tags:

How to: Follow-up Successfully after a Job Interview

May 7th, 2013 No comments

This is the second post in our series of how, when, and why to follow-up in the job search process. In our previous post, we touched on why it’s important to follow up after you apply for a job. Here’s an overview on how to write a great thank you note to follow-up on a job interviewing process.thankyou

Woody Allen’s quote “70% of success is showing up” does not apply well to thank you notes.  Sending a thank you note after a job interview can help you stand out and demonstrate your ability to be polite. That said, it can also sink your candidacy if you:

  1. Address someone by the wrong name
  2. Make a spelling or grammatical error
  3. Ask the wrong questions: What is the salary for the job? What’s your vacation policy? When will you make up your mind?

Thank you notes should be written and sent within two business days of your interview. Unless you know for a fact that the hiring decision won’t be made for several weeks, plan on sending your thank you note via e-mail.

If you’ve met with multiple people during an interview,  send a different thank you note to each person that you spoke with if you can. (If you don’t have all of the details and contact information, use your online research skills. Google *@companyname.com and you will discover how the company assigns e-mail addresses; then just plug in your potential contact’s information, write your message and hit send. If you get it wrong, the email should end up back in your inbox as an “address unknown.”)

Here is a template for writing a great thank you note. (Do not use this exact language, but do note the structure and sentiment expressed. Instructions in italics.)


Dear [Name],

Start with a brief refresher. Many employers hire for multiple positions at once, so always acknowledge what you are applying for.

Thanks for meeting with me to discuss [position]. I appreciate your time and consideration. My interest in the position increased as a result of our meeting.

Show you paid attention.

I was especially impressed by [add detail, practice, or comment on organizational set-up]. Example: I was particularly impressed by the physical layout of your office. It’s easy to see why your employees have a strong record for collaboration and finishing projects on-time and under budget, as the work environment seems to inspire cooperation. I would enjoy working in this environment.

Follow up on any questions you missed. If possible, provide information on how you work.

As an employee, I find that I can come up with a quick solution, but often produce a better one when I’ve had time to process the situation and explore potential options. In thinking about your question on [topic] more fully, I offer you an additional perspective: [insert solution].

Say thank you.

Thank you again for the opportunity to interview and I look forward to hearing from you soon regarding next steps. In the interim, if you require any additional information regarding my candidacy, please feel free to contact me.

That’s it. Keep it short, simple, and stay on message that you want the job!


Categories: Interviewing Tags:

How to follow up after a Job Interview

April 30th, 2013 No comments

One of the easiest ways to stand out in a job search is to follow-up and showcase the depth of your interest and area of expertise. Many people overlook this step after receiving an automated “Thank you for applying. Don’t call us, we will call you” e-mail less than five minutes after they’ve applied for a job. Today, we’re going to show you why this is a mistake and how to fix it after you’ve initially applied for a job. (In a later post, we will tell you how to follow up after an interview.)

Why Not Following Up is a Mistake

While it may not always appear this way, most organizations are as focused and interested in hiring the right candidate as you are in finding the right company to work for. In an era when most resume reviews are done in 15 seconds or less, your follow-up can make you memorable and move your resume straight to the top of the application pile to review- especially if you’ve applied over a week after the job was posted. (Our advice on this? The early bird gets the job.)

Bottom Line: Following up after you’ve applied demonstrates interest, commitment, and initiative — all criteria employers like to see when they hire.

How and When to Follow Up

There’s nothing worse than cold calling a potential employer — only to find that the job you applied for has been filled. Therefore, the first step in the follow-up process is to make sure the job is still available. Fortunately, there are two easy ways to do this:

  1. If you have a free StartWire account,  you can track your job in StartWire– and get an automatic update on your application status via text or email. (This information is available for positions listed at over 7,000 organizations.)
  2. Check the job listing you initially saw on the organization’s website. If the position is gone, it’s quite possible it has been filled.

After you’ve verified that the job is still available, isolate and identify your goal for the follow-up. What do you want your potential recruiter or hiring manager to know about you? Ideally, you want to convey your expertise and fit for the job — as well as demonstrate your continued interest in the job.

To follow-up, choose the medium that suits you best.

Are you a natural on the phone? Call the potential organization after hours and use the organization’s automated directory to land in the right voice mailbox. Record a message that doesn’t just say the job you applied for, but that also gives a ten word overview of your past experience that fits the job. “Hi, this is Ivanna Job. I’m calling to follow-up on my October 5 application for the Green Belt Six Sigma Project Manager. I can offer you a Black Belt in Six Sigma and I live not five miles from your facility. I remain interested in the job and can be reached at ____________.”

Are you great with research and words? Write a follow-up and email the recruiting contact or likely hiring manager. Once you’ve identified the right person to contact, you can google *@organization.com to find out how the organization assigns names to people. For example, if you are applying for a job with John Doe at Acme Food and you know that Acme Food assigns emails with a first initial and last name — you can guess that Mr. Springfield’s address is jdoe@acmefood.com

Just as in the above example, your follow-up should include a very brief mention of how you are qualified for the job. Extra credit for congratulating the organization on a recent news mention. (Example: Congratulations on your first-place finish for The Candidate Experience Awards.)

Regardless of how you follow-up, we recommend doing it within two weeks of your application date — and making sure it’s perfect. If in doubt on the phone message, hit the # message and re-record until you are satisfied. If you are writing, use formal language (no text shorthand) — and have a friend proofread it after you hit spell check! Spell one thing wrong in an e-mail and you may knock yourself out of the applicant pool if you’ve applied to work under a Spelling Bee champion.

Remember that oft-quoted Woody Allen quip, “70% of success in life is showing up?” That doesn’t work in the job search process. You need to stand out as a professional. Follow these simple steps and you will!



Categories: Job Search Advice Tags:

Your Digital Footprint: How to Screen and Protect Your Online Reputation

February 19th, 2013 No comments

Here in New England, the snow has a memory. You can still see tracks in the yard and open space, Photo by Chandlee Bryandays after roads have been plowed and driveways have been cleared. You can tell where people and animals have been — and you can often see what they’ve done and left behind.

As temperatures rise or new storm fronts blow in, snow tracks disappear. But all of us leave a footprint that has a much longer life span online — in fact, many people continue to have a digital presence online after they die.  From casual conversations with friends, to comments on message boards, political donations and charity 5K runs, your activities will often show up in Google search results of your name.

Why does this matter? Conducting a Google search on candidates has become a standard practice: in fact, 90% of executive recruiters say they conduct online research of potential candidates (ExecuNet). Up to 70% of employers who use LinkedIn say they’ve chosen not to hire based on what they’ve found out about a candidate online, but only 27% give people the opportunity to redress any negative search results that are found.

If you are currently looking for a job, what people find in a Google search of your name matters. If search results for your name yield positive results that demonstrate your skills, interests, and experience, employers say it can help you get hired. If your search results include racy pictures, derogatory comments, or potentially illegal activities — you can potentially find yourself in the “reject pile.”

Here are five strategies you can use to protect your own online reputation:

1. Find out who you share your name with and share information accordingly.

Do you share your name with a few other people? If yes, consider including your middle name in your profile — or another variation of your name that you use.

For example, if your name is “Dave Matthews” and you are a CPA — you might want to be “David [middle name] Matthews, CPA” in any professional profiles posted online.

If you share your name with someone who’s been in legal trouble or in the court system, know why they are in the news — and tell potential employers who interview you “it wasn’t me.”

2. Know the results of a Google search on your name — and help people find your professional information.

Ever notice how ads on Google appear to be linked to your interests? It’s no coincidence. The ads that are returned to you are based on your own interests based on prior search results. (You can edit or remove your preferences here.)

Just as the ads you see are based on your interests and search patterns, you’ll receive search results generated from past clicks and your location. This means that what you see when you Google your name isn’t the same as what an employer sees — or what your friends across the country see.

Here’s a good general rule of thumb for having a professional presence on Google:  At least 1 of the top 5 search results for your name should relate to your professional interests. If you create and maintain a strong LinkedIn profile, this alone will help you significantly — as LinkedIn has high visibility in search results.

3. Keep your Facebook profile clean — and scan it for inappropriate content.

Facebook’s privacy policies are ever changing and hard to pin down. Even if you limit your content only to your friends, it can end being visible to others.

One way to make sure your content stays clear? Screen it with Secure.Me, a free tool that scans your Facebook profile. Secure.me can help protect you from viruses and give you advice on what to keep private. (It will also alert you to content that others could find questionable — so you can decide what to keep and what to discard.)

We hope you’ve found these tips to be helpful. Let us know if you use and recommend any others!



5 Action Strategies for Your Job Search (Or Love Life)

February 12th, 2013 No comments

Today’s post is a nod to Valentine’s Day, a day that may be the most emotionally charged holiday on the American calendar. If you’re in Photo of two swans with necks touching as they swim on lake, courtesy of photophilde on Flickrlove and you are loved, Valentine’s Day can feel like the most wonderful day of the year. If you’re single and would prefer not to be, Valentine’s Day can feel lonely and isolating. You may feel the same way about Monday: If you like what you do, you may look forward to Monday. If you don’t, you may dread it!

We see strong parallels between job search and dating: Both are fundamentally awkward processes in which you can make big decisions in a short amount of time – based on first impressions and the answers to a handful of questions.

Many employers make hiring decisions for full-time positions after spending less than two hours with a candidate. Can you imagine deciding to spend 40 hours or more with a person every week – after one date? It’s like deciding to move in with someone you just met!

We created StartWire to help you have an easier experience in your job search. Here are five strategies you can use in your work life – borrow as you see fit if you’d like to adapt for your love life.

  1. Remember that who you choose to spend your time with is a mutually selective process: You get to choose whether to accept job offers, just as employers get to choose if they want to work with you! As you interview for jobs, take a minute to observe others and assess your environment: Are the people you meet people you can see yourself working with on a daily basis? Do people who work together appear to like each other and get along?  Can you see yourself feeling happy doing the type of work they would like you to do?
  2. When you like someone, it’s okay to tell them. Just as people often respond positively to compliments when dating, saying why you like a company may help you land a job offer. Have you purchased and enjoyed one of the company’s products? Do you admire programs and initiatives they sponsor or the community work they do as volunteers? If you see something, say something – on your cover letter, in a thank you note, or on their Facebook page. Sincere compliments often build good feelings.
  3. Let your friends know what you’re looking for – and ask for help when you need it. Do you have a skill that comes easily to you – and a strong idea of the type of work environment you’d like to work in? Give people you know a sense of what you’re looking for so that they can help you – especially if you’ve already applied. Getting props from others – and a referral into a job – is a faster way to get hired than doing it alone.
  4. Until you decide to be exclusive, play the field. Just as employers typically look at more than one candidate for a position, it’s okay for you to look at more than one job. Focusing on only one opportunity at a time can leave you feeling like a swooning seventh grader in the throes of unrequited love. Do you find yourself staring at your phone, checking your email every 15 minutes, and wondering when someone will have the decency to follow-up as days turn into weeks? Sign-up for StartWire’s free service that enables you to get updates on your application status. The service is now available for over 8,200 employers. Then use our Express Apply feature to identify other positions of interest – and apply.
  5. Get out of the house. Many job seekers find that the simple act of adding a volunteer position to their resume results in more callbacks from potential employers. Attend events related to your field – or areas of interest. The more activities you participate in, the more you’ll meet people who can help you achieve your goals.

These are five strategies that we find useful. Do you have any observations or tips that have worked for you? Share.



How to Stand Tall & Get Out Of Your Job Search Shadow

February 5th, 2013 No comments

Good news! Over the weekend, visionary groundhog Punxsutawney Phil emerged from the ground and saw his shadow predicting an earlyPhoto from Twin Cities Natural Site, shows groundhog in winter with shadow spring…and six fewer weeks of winter.

Despite the good news, February can still feel like a cold and dark month — especially if you’re in the midst of a job search and waiting to hear back from employers. Here at StartWire’s headquarters, we’re still short on daylight. Today, our sun rose at 7:01 am and will set at 5:05. We’ll gain an average of 4 minutes of daylight every day — and see sunsets at 5:30 by month’s end. Still it’s a long time in the dark. (You can chart your own daylight here.)

Groundhog or no groundhog, one of the biggest challenges you may face in your own job search is getting out from your own shadow. The psychological process of applying and not hearing back promptly can be exhausting and can take an emotional toll on you. Just as many people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder when there is a smaller amount of light, it’s not unusual for job seekers to experience depression or feel sad.  (Here are some of our suggestions on action steps you can take to deal with the blues.)

People often associate the blues with inaction — sleeping a lot or not being proactive. But, there can also be another side of it in the job search process: Do you find yourself feeling less sure of yourself?  Do you ever sit with your shoulders hunched over? Cross your arms when approached by strangers? Cover your mouth when you talk?

Are you hiding in your own shadow?

Don’t. It could cost you your next job offer.

Your non-verbal communication skills are as important — if not more important — than your words. In fact, it is estimated that up to 93% of communication effectiveness is determined by non-verbal cues… How you stand, speak, and gesture can make a tremendous difference in how your actions and words are interpreted by other people.

Fortunately, you can use a few simple techniques to stand taller, feel more confident, and make a stronger impression in person.

Social psychologist Amy Cuddy, a professor at Harvard Business School, has developed a two-minute routine you can use to stand taller, feel more confident — and get out of your own shadow. If you’ve got 20 minutes, watch her video here:

If you want the highlights, here are a few tips:

  1. Anything that you do to make you smaller, takes away your power in the eyes of others. This includes crossing your arms or legs and touching your face or neck.
  2. When you stand “wide,” make sweeping gestures with your arms — you appear more powerful.
  3. If you don’t feel powerful, one way to get there and increase your confidence is to fake it till you make it. One way to do this is to make yourself smile. To try this, put a pen lengthwise between your teeth and hold on to it for a minute. Feel better?
  4. Striking a powerful pose for as little as two minutes, can improve your confidence — and your performance. You can try it anytime — including before your next job interview.

Try it out and let us know how it works for you!


Super Bowl Lessons for the Job Search

January 29th, 2013 No comments

Whether you’re a football fan or not, chances are good that you’ve heard – and will hear more – stories about players, plays, personal superbowland team triumphs before Super Bowl XLVII comes to a close on Sunday.

You’ll also likely hear stories this week about the latest U.S. Unemployment numbers, slated for release this Friday, February 1.

We’re not saying we see a direct connection between the NFL and unemployment numbers, but here are three tips from our “Silver Linings Playbook” for the job search.

1.  You’re more likely to make the team if you come recommended.

It is estimated that only five percent of NFL players made the team as a walk-on. Just as the vast majority of NFL players get drafted, you have a better chance of getting a job offer if a friend, former colleague or networking connection recommends you for the position. How much more likely? The New York Times reports that employers are setting target goals to recruit up to 50% of new employees based on referrals from current employees.

For tips on how to get a referral inside the company even if you don’t know anyone, click here.

Don’t forget to check out StartWire’s built-in free tool that recommends potential sources of referral based on your LinkedIn network.

2. Professional players – and teams – frequently lose on the road to success.

Here’s a piece of trivia you’ll hear over and over – the Ravens (1-0) and the 49ers (5-0) each come to the Super Bowl undefeated in the Big Game. But each team lost three or more games over the course of the season, and it’s been over ten years since either team took the field for a Super Bowl.

Unless you are applying for jobs that you are over-qualified for – or if no one else applies – you are going to experience the pain of loss.  You are going to be turned down for some of the jobs you apply for, just like some of the passes in football go down in the history books as incompletes or fumbles. It’s part of the process.

Would it make you feel better to know how often this occurs on the football field? Even the winners are accustomed to loss. Of the teams who have played more than one Super Bowl, only the San Francisco 49’ers have a perfect record for the Big Game – and they’ll put that on the line on Sunday.

3. Focus on jobs you want with discipline and determination – and it’s quite likely you’ll get a shot at interviewing. Just don’t give up.

Think some teams are doomed to have a Charlie Brown life? Or that it’s all about employer contracts and buying wins? Consider this: 28 of the NFL’s 32 teams have played in a Super Bowl. That’s 87% of all NFL teams! Not bad, eh?

Get out there, and keep trying!

Now pass the guacamole and chips. Tell us, how can we help you achieve your goals?



Categories: Job Search Advice Tags:

The Honest Approach to Writing a Cover Letter (& When to Use It)

January 22nd, 2013 No comments

Sometimes the best way to catch the attention of a potential employer is to be straight-forward and honest — even if your skills and eblog photoxperience don’t line up perfectly with an employer’s preferences to hire for a position.

For a great example of how one job seeker used this technique, check out this piece in The Huffington Post, which provides screenshots of a cover letter that caused executives across Wall Street to lean forward, chuckle — and reach for their phones to schedule an interview. What led to all this attention?  A candid, direct approach.

Here’s an excerpt from the letter.






Here are 3 strategies this job seeker uses:

1. He acknowledges his understanding of the culture in which hiring takes place and is direct about saying that he’s a long shot for the job

Why this works: Many Wall Street banks recruit at a small number of schools to select a majority of their summer hires. By acknowledging the situation, he makes it clear that he understands how the hiring process often works.

2. He asks for the company to give him full attention and consideration.
I am aware it is highly unusual for undergraduates from average universities like [mine] to intern at [company] but nevertheless I was hoping you might make an exception.

Why this works: He’s polite and direct in asking for the reader’s time.

3. He doesn’t sugarcoat his experience.
I won’t waste your time inflating my credentials, throwing around exaggerated job titles…

Why this works: He shares that he has good grades and some past experience without repeating or exaggerating his resume. His direct approach plays to the type of field that he works in, as Wall Street bankers are famous for being blunt, working in fast-paced environments, and communicating with short, direct language.

Can this approach work for anyone in their job search? Probably not. Many organizations will likely shake their heads at a line such as [I am not] feeding you a line of crap about how my past experience and skill set align perfectly with…[the job].

That said, soften your tone and there are a few good strategies in this cover letter that can work for you — especially if you have gaps in your resume between positions, have taken time off to take care of family, children or yourself, and want to work in a new field or one you haven’t worked in recently.

Here are three lessons we can take away from this letter:

1. It’s okay to be direct about why you’re applying for a job. You don’t need to offer to work for next to nothing, but showing your raw enthusiasm to learn about a new field or career path is a positive way to show your potential fit for a job.

Action Strategy: Match the tone of your letter to the tone of the industry you wish to work in. If you want to work in a job that requires strict confidentiality, don’t gossip or be overly chatty. If you want to work in a sales role, it’s okay to use a persuasive tone.

2. It’s better to be friendly than arrogant. If you market yourself as a rock star who knows the job being offered inside out — despite not having any experience in the field — it can hurt you even if you get the job since you won’t have the skills and experience you need. Instead, present yourself as someone who has some of the requirements for the job, and show that you’ve thought through the skills you have — and what you hope to gain. Many employers hire for personality, aptitude, and attitude first, and then train you on what you need to know to get the job done.

Action Strategy: Create a simple outline that highlights 1-2 ways you fit the job description instead of providing long paragraphs that say you’ve already got the skills and experiences for the job.

You Seek

5+ years of experience in ____________
Full knowledge of FileMakerPro

I Offer

3 years of experience in ___, with training in ______
Extensive experience in database management using Access and the ability to learn FileMaker. (In my job at _______, I taught myself ___________.)

3. Use your cover letter to answer any hanging questions an employer may have about your resume.

Did you leave your job early because you got chicken pox in your 30’s? Take three years off to take care of an elderly parent or a small child? Take a job that was the wrong fit?

Action Strategy: Address gaps or trouble spots in employment in a direct and honest way. Don’t embellish the story. Simply say what happened in a neutral tone — example: My mother had lung cancer and I resigned my position to take care of her. I am no longer serving as her caretaker.

Try these three strategies and let us know how they work for you.