Every job search should begin with what I call your “job kit”. Your “job kit” should show people that you’re worth investing in. Because that’s exactly what they’re deciding whether it’s by hiring you or recommending you for a position. Your job kit should be a part of your professional “Copy Bible”. If you don’t know what a Copy Bible is and why you need one — learn more about it here.
When building your job kit, you should include a compelling cover letter, results-based resume, strong LinkedIn profile and response-worthy emails. These materials can help you deliver the right message that says, “Here is why you want to hire me.”.
Three secrets to a standout cover letter
I usually get a flurry of emails and LinkedIn connection requests after a major presentation or some media coverage.
One message in particular caught my eye. The individual, we’ll call him Bob, is looking for a new job. In his message to me, he included a detailed list of his qualifications and what he was looking for in a new opportunity.
Glancing at his list, he was obviously very talented. And I found his direct request for assistance very refreshing. But I knew he wasn’t getting his point across to prospective employers. He had years of experience, a proven track record and knew what he was looking for in a position. But what was missing was a message that grabs attention. This is how you land the interview which leads to that position you crave.
- Make every word count. Your cover letter doesn’t need to be long to make an impact, but it does need to be “tight” to keep the reader’s attention. To accomplish this, stay focused on your goal – to obtain an actual or informational interview – and eliminate unnecessary words in your letter.
- Write for the reader. Your cover letter should be focused on the reader and what they care about. Instead of describing what you’re looking for in a position, explain why you fill the prospective employer’s needs.
- Use proof points. Proof points are the evidence of your value. They prove what you can do. Instead of including a laundry list of skills or activities, list your accomplishments. Make it clear what you would bring to a position. For example, “I’ve implemented a process that increased sales by 30% and reduced expenses by 25%.”
How to write a killer resume
Your resume should tell a compelling story that shines a light on your abilities and achievements. For starters, you’ll need an executive summary statement. Don’t be shy. Your goal is to pique the reader’s interest in you. Make it clear who you are and what you can achieve. Because the average person only has an 8-second attention span, you’ve got to do it fast.
In the first two sentences, describe the full breadth and depth of your experience. Resist the urge to be tactical or long winded. Yes, being disciplined, consultative and collaborative are all good characteristics, but it’s more important to start with how you’ve interacted with the C-suite, managed P&L’s or led global distribution centers.
Create sound bites like this: “A tenured sales executive with expertise leading complex global organizations, across 15 continents with a $90 million quota.”
Once you’ve nailed that message, here’s a guide to crafting a résumé that does you proud:
Focus on results. Hiring managers are less interested in what you did than in what you achieved. For example, if you “designed and implemented a leadership development program,” your bullet point might read like this: “I shaped company direction, having trained more than 20 Fortune 500 executives on how to boost brand awareness and influence consumer behavior.”
Your resume should also be frontloaded, showing your most relevant info first.
- Make it easy to read
- Choose a crisp and clean format
- Use white space, bullet points and bolded text to make your content super scannable
- Keep it to no more than two pages in length
- Start strong and order your content flow so that the most relevant parts of your story are at the top
- Don’t dwell on the past and make it easy for the reader to get the gist of your past work history
- When possible, back up your claims with financial results
Make LinkedIn a priority to maximize your job search efforts
The most important real estate on LinkedIn is the number of connections a person has, so you want to have at least 500. Anything lower and you’re perceived as a recluse. But 500 or more helps position you as an engaged and respected professional.
Your photo and headline are also crucial. Use a photo of you professionally dressed, smiling directly at the camera. Your headline should be a value statement that expresses what you can do for the reader. And include your email address and/or phone number in your summary.
These tactics are the foundation of your job-search strategy. Also leverage social media. Twitter offers an effective way to gain recognition as a thought-leader. But don’t tweet that you’re looking for a job because it screams desperation. And make sure there’s nothing on your Facebook page that can damage your reputation.
Also, AVOID those banners on LinkedIn that say “open to networking.” They scream desperation. Everyone on LinkedIn is open to networking or they wouldn’t be there. Let your strong profile, which should be written in first-person … because your LinkedIn profile is a digital version of your elevator speech. It should be warm and welcoming and include evidence of the results you’ve brought (see resume notes above).
Before you act…
Use every interpersonal interaction as an opportunity to make a positive impression and to gain valuable information and leads. Knowing someone who knows someone is the most powerful tool you have for getting ahead.
How to ace an interview
You’ve done it. Your extensive networking and outstanding résumé have helped you land an interview with a company you’re eager to join. Now you need to use this crucial step in the hiring process to sell yourself as the best choice for the job.
If only it were that easy. Instead, a job interview can feel more like speed-dating—you’re given a few minutes, under awkward circumstances, to woo a stranger into a relationship.
To make sure you make a winning impression, follow these interview tips:
Know why you want the job. Like minded people work well together. If you don’t like the company, then you’re just applying for a job and they’ll know it. Be selective; pursue roles that you’d be proud to fill.
- Make a strong case. Your goal is to convince the hiring manager that you’re keenly engaged and ready to immediately start making their jobs easier. That’s why you thoroughly researched them. Not so you could rattle off a laundry list of their accomplishments. But so you could articulate how your talents and passions complement their culture and business strategy.
- Stick to business. Know how the company you’re interviewing with is doing financially—e.g., how much they earned (or lost) last quarter, what their stock is currently worth and what acquisitions are in the pipeline. And be able to discuss the finances of the companies listed in your work history. Many interviewers will ask how much XYZ company earned or what size budgets you managed, etc. A fact-based response shows business acumen.
- Prepare for tough questions. Have a handful of detailed, career-success stories memorized so it’s easy to tweak them for the questions you’re asked. That way you don’t have to compose an answer on the fly. It’s OK to use one of your success scenarios more than once in an interview. Reintroduce it by saying something such as “In the project I just mentioned, I automated enterprise data sharing by implementing a . . . ”
- Finish on the right note. End the interview with a closing statement that conveys how confident you are that you will be offered the job. HR research indicates that the number one reason why a manager doesn’t select a candidate is because they weren’t convinced the candidate wanted the job. So, even if you’re unsure about salary, benefits and perks, make it very clear that you do want the job and that you’re the perfect fit for it. Get the offer… then negotiate the details.
Land The Job With Confidence
Working with Melissa as your crisis management and communications consultant is a training and coaching opportunity that builds a proactive reputation and crisis management strategy.
If you are tired of giving your career all you’ve got, only to find yourself being overlooked — it’s time to take control.A professional development coach can help you navigate through these obstacles, helping you recognize and utilize skills you already have and how to capitalize on them. That’s why Melissa created The Boardroom, a masterclass that helps you become the CEO of your life by providing professional guidance that can help you land your next big gig!