Customizing Your Resume and Cover Letter

Searching for a new job is a job in itself, and you should treat it as such; work! Although it may be easy to send the same resume and generic cover letter for every job posting, you are not doing yourself any favors by cutting corners. Customizing your cover letter and resume for each and every job you apply to could be the difference between you receiving an interview offer or not. From a hiring manager’s perspective, this is what a custom application says about you:

  1. You want THIS job, not just any job.
  • Taking the time to write a customized cover letter and tailoring your resume for a specific position will show the hiring manager that you are willing to put in time and effort to apply for this job, which means you really want it!
  • Sending a generic cover letter and resume shows a hiring manager that you must not really want the job that badly, since you weren’t willing to put in the extra effort to customize your application.
  1. You really are qualified.
  • By customizing your cover letter for a specific job posting, you can specifically mention the skills and experiences that make you a great fit for the position.
  • You can also highlight these skills and experiences on your resume, which will further show a hiring manager that you really are qualified.
  1. You know the value of hard work.
  • Making the effort to customize your application will show a hiring manager that you are willing to work hard to meet your goals. You understand that making the extra effort to customize your application could improve your chances of landing an interview.
  • When hiring managers receive generic cover letters or cover letters that were written for other positions, they will assume the applicant is lazy and unwilling to put in extra effort to reach their goals.

Etiquette for New Hires

Landing a new job isn’t always easy, and often you need to rely on your networking contacts to help you find the right fit. If you recently started a new position, there may be friends or acquaintances that helped you out along the way, and it’s important to show them your gratitude. Here are some suggestions for doing just that:

  1. Send a handwritten thank you note: It may seem a bit old-fashioned, but a handwritten note shows you took the time to express your gratitude. In the end, this small act can reaffirm why a networking contact was so eager to assist you in the first place.
  2. Send a thank you email: Since an email is a bit less personal, it can be a good option for thanking contacts who you know more on an acquaintance level. It will still acknowledge their efforts while showing your appreciation.
  3. Send a small gift: This could be anything from personalized post-it notes, to a small gift basket, or even a box of chocolates. Sending a small token can be an even more personalized gesture than writing a note.
  4. Buy them a meal or drink: Taking someone out for a meal or a drink on you is a great opportunity to not only express your gratitude, but to also fill them in on how your new job is going.

Tips for Metro Riders

If you are one of those lucky Washingtonians who doesn’t have to battle through traffic on the Beltway every morning to commute to work, you most likely take the metro! Learn how to make your metro commute easier, safer, and all around more enjoyable by following the tips below:

  1. Buy a SmartTrip Card: Not only will these cards get you through the turnstiles a little more quickly; they also save you up to a dollar or more on every trip!
  2. Wear comfortable shoes: Commuting via metro typically means that you will have to do a bit of walking to get to and from the station, so wear comfortable shoes and bring your work shoes in a separate bag if necessary.
  3. Hold onto your bags at all times: Holding onto your bags will not only protect you from theft, but it’s also considerate for other passengers to keep your bags off the floor and seats.
  4. Keep your fare card handy: While you want to keep your fare or SmartTrip card somewhere safe, you also want to have it easily accessible so that you don’t have to hunt through your entire purse or wallet to find it when exiting the metro.
  5. Stand right, walk left: This rule of thumb applies to riding the escalators. If you are standing, stand to the right, this leaves the left side open for walking passengers to pass by you unobstructed.
  6. Report any suspicious behavior or unattended bags: Metro police request that passengers report any suspicious behavior or unattended bags they notice to a uniformed metro worker or police officer. This action will help keep you and other riders safe while on the metro.
  7. Plan your trips ahead of time: If you are a daily commuter, you probably know what time your train arrives every morning, but it’s always a good idea to check for any metro delays or alerts before you leave the house to avoid any interruptions to your routine.

 

 

 

Networking

When you are unemployed, it’s important to take advantage of every resource you have in order to find a job. While you are submitting your resume to every job posting you feel qualified for, you should also pursue some less traditional means. For example, networking is a great way to learn about new job opportunities and get your name in with the right people.

You should discuss your career goals with your friends and even your former colleagues. Your friends are great networking tools, especially if they work in a similar industry. They might know of companies in your industry that are hiring, or have connections to such companies. If your friend is employed and satisfied with their current career, they might not pay attention to job openings they hear about. That’s why it’s important for you to let them know you are in the market for work, so they can keep an ear out for you. Also, if any of your former coworkers left to work at a new company, than that company is a great place to look into. They are clearly hiring candidates with a similar background and experience to your background, and your former coworker could provide a reference on your behalf to the hiring supervisor.

Linked In is another useful networking resource. You can use the professional networking website to connect with hiring managers, former colleagues and the like. Also, you can ask your former supervisors or colleagues to provide recommendations for you to post on your profile. These recommendations are a great resource to bring to job interviews. They also boost your chances of getting an interview if a hiring manager looks you up on Linked In after reviewing your submitted resume. Companies will post job openings on their Linked In page, so it’s a good idea to connect with companies you are interested in working for as well.

Do not leave any resource untapped when searching for new employment. Help could come from anywhere, and you don’t want to miss out on a great opportunity.

 

Important Qualities to Highlight

While every position requires different experiences, strengths and skills, there are certain qualities that are beneficial to any professional. When writing your resume or speaking to a potential employer, highlighting these qualities and giving examples of how they have benefited you in the workplace will give you a leg up on the competition.

  • Initiative: Taking initiative outside the set responsibilities of your position is an ideal quality to have as an employee. Employers want to hire someone who can confidently complete their assignments, but they also want someone who will go above and beyond the call of duty.
  • Prioritizing: Being able to prioritize your responsibilities is another great quality to have in the workplace. An employer wants someone who can not only balance his or her many responsibilities, but also be able to recognize which ones are most important or time sensitive.
  • Communication: Strong communication skills will help you no matter what job you are applying for. Being able to speak professionally, clearly, and politely will take you far as a professional. Also, having good writing skills is equally important.
  • Reliability: A potential employer wants to know that he or she can count on you to be there when they need you. An ideal employee should be punctual and have a solid attendance record. When an employer needs extra help, a reliable employee will step in and pick up the slack without waiting for instruction.

Highlighting these key qualities on a resume or in an interview will definitely benefit you.