Applying for jobs can be intimidating. You’re literally sending a company some information about yourself and your work history, in hopes that these materials scream “Pick Me” loud enough for your phone to ring with an invitation for an interview.
Similar to how companies have their “brand,” we, as professionals, have our personal brand. Here are 5 tips to help increase your confidence in your resume – and hopefully land that dream job your heart’s set on:
1. Don’t Forget a Cover Letter
A cover letter is an extra opportunity to tell a potential employer something about yourself. Take the chance to show your personality, what you’re passionate about, and why you stand out from the rest of their stack of applicants.
It’s ok to be a little conversational in tone. Just because you’re showing off your “professional” self, doesn’t mean you have to be boring and stiff. A cover letter is a great place to share a personal anecdote that shows why you’re passionate about the open position with a company.
2. Consider the position you’re going for and think outside the box
HR departments look at numerous applications when it comes time to hire for a position. Think of how monotonous it probably is to look at the same type of document over and over. Here’s where you can get creative!
Think of the position you’re going for. Is it in a design-based field? Try creating a resume that allows you to show off your design skills. Social Media or digital marketing based? It might be a good idea to craft your resume like a website or social media page. No matter the field, there is always a way to “speak the language” of the company you’re applying to.
3. Focus on accomplishments & skills rather than regurgitating your responsibilities
How many times have you caught yourself updating your resume and using the phrase “responsible for?” Myself included, we’re probably all guilty. Being responsible for something and accomplishing something are very different. Employers want to know what you’re good at, not what you showed up to work and completed, just because you had to.
Train yourself to identify your achievements along your career path, and talk about those as you apply for new opportunities. It will be a great way to self-reflect, and understand what your personal brand is built of.
4. Show your personality & interests outside of work
Employers often want to know a little about a candidate before they bring them on board. Yes, the interview process usually covers these things, but go ahead and give them some details before you talk face-to-face. It may be tough to see a connection between the two, but really, a work-life balance should be mutually beneficial to both work and life.
Activities like training for a 5k, or competing on a kickball team in a local league can be impressive to employers. They show that you work towards goals, and value teamwork. Similarly, your career path might influence volunteer activities you participate in. Make sure you’re talking about these activities so that potential employers get a well-rounded view of who you are.
5. Support your resume online
If employers are interested in you, chances are, they will try to do a little extra research on you and/or your work. Within the application process at most companies, there are fields where you can list your website, blog, online gallery, or a social media account if you want to share.
Having a LinkedIn account, or other online resources can be great for someone trying to discover more about you and your work. With LinkedIn, build your profile by asking some of your former colleagues to write a recommendation for you. It will be part of your public profile, and visitors can see what others thought about your work. (Think of how many times you’ve chosen to try something because a friend’s recommendation!)
For those in creative fields, find a home for your portfolio online. Same for writers, a blog is a great tool to showcase your talent. Much like a cover letter, listing an online resource as a supplement to your resume is a way to get in a little extra information about yourself to potential employers. We all have a personal brand — why not show it off?!
Don’t feel overwhelmed when it comes time to start applying for jobs. You’re already the expert at all things you! Take your time, get your game plan together, and prepare your materials. Once you have the groundwork for your resume, cover letter, and online resources, all you have to do is tweak based on the open position and company. Deep breath – you’ve got this!