PDA

View Full Version : Job Application Advice



harangatang
04-09-2008, 12:20 PM
I'm applying for my first real job as I'll be graduating from college in less than a month. I'm completing my cover letter and resume which will be ready shortly. I actually went down to my college bookstore and bought a nice (but cheap) folder to hold my information in. Any other advice on how to get an edge or advice in general?

westofyou
04-09-2008, 01:22 PM
Resume - Be concise and highlight your work experience or anything pertinent to the job you are after, be ready to morph it based on each position, it's good to have a couple of versions... have people you trust look it over, don't fill it with fluff to make it look richer.

SunDeck
04-09-2008, 01:34 PM
I have had to go through stacks and stacks of applications, resumes and cover letters before and I don't recall anything like a folder, or special paper, etc. really catching my attention. What does catch my eye is when a person has taken the time to show me why they are worth the interview.

It could be something simple like making it clear in the cover letter that you are familiar with the company, or that you understand something about their products, position in the marketplace, etc. Additionally, showing that you know something about the competition in general helps. It doesn't have to be overwhelming, just find some things about the company's situation that interests you and show off your knowledge and show that you have taken time to research this position rather than spraying around applications like buckshot.

Edit each resume to highlight that you are right for this job. I don't mean embellish, but since each job and company is a little different, just make sure you take the time to create a resume for each position you apply for rather than a generic one. They may all have the same information on them, but phrased and organized somewhat differently.

Make finding a job your full time job. Research the companies, research the market; there is no excuse for not doing the homework and you can bet your competitors will be doing theirs. The whole purpose of a resume and cover letter is to keep yourself from being rejected. Show them that you are rock solid for the job at hand then knock them out in the interview.

durl
04-09-2008, 01:35 PM
Find someone who can help you get your foot in the door. Relationships are key. A personal recommendation means a lot these days.

Keep your resume concise and to the point. Give them just enough info to make them want to call you and learn more.

Be prepared for the "What's your biggest weakness" question. We all have them but it's good to let the interviewer know how you work to overcome a weakness.

I've had a hard time thinking of a way to word this, but I guess to sum it up: be flexible and willing to learn. More and more these days people change careers, not just jobs, many times. Someone who continually learns and adapts will make themselves more valuable to an employer. Don't just interview for a position, show how your abilities (not just your degree) can be of value to an employer.

SunDeck
04-09-2008, 01:47 PM
Be prepared for the "What's your biggest weakness" question. We all have them but it's good to let the interviewer know how you work to overcome a weakness.


That's an easy one, Chocolate!

http://static.flickr.com/82/253592416_afc5d5aac0.jpg

Do I get the job?

Hello?

KittyDuran
04-09-2008, 02:26 PM
I have had to go through stacks and stacks of applications, resumes and cover letters before and I don't recall anything like a folder, or special paper, etc. really catching my attention. What does catch my eye is when a person has taken the time to show me why they are worth the interview.

It could be something simple like making it clear in the cover letter that you are familiar with the company, or that you understand something about their products, position in the marketplace, etc. Additionally, showing that you know something about the competition in general helps. It doesn't have to be overwhelming, just find some things about the company's situation that interests you and show off your knowledge and show that you have taken time to research this position rather than spraying around applications like buckshot.

Edit each resume to highlight that you are right for this job. I don't mean embellish, but since each job and company is a little different, just make sure you take the time to create a resume for each position you apply for rather than a generic one. They may all have the same information on them, but phrased and organized somewhat differently.

Make finding a job your full time job. Research the companies, research the market; there is no excuse for not doing the homework and you can bet your competitors will be doing theirs. The whole purpose of a resume and cover letter is to keep yourself from being rejected. Show them that you are rock solid for the job at hand then knock them out in the interview.Ditto... I "do" resumes for a living (well, that my job - getting ready to format one right now). It's best to have not only a standard version with either Arial or Times New Roman fonts, but also a text version of the resume in case the company would like you to send it electronically.

durl
04-09-2008, 02:29 PM
For the record, I do NOT recommend smearing chocolate on your face for a job interview.

However, in my first month or so at my current job, I was getting tired of how "stuffy" things seemed so I found a christmas stocking in a stack of stuff and walked around with it on my head for awhile. The cool thing is that I avoided any kind of therapy afterwards.

Yachtzee
04-09-2008, 05:05 PM
In this economy, all I can say is, keep at it and don't let the rejection letters get you down.

savafan
04-09-2008, 10:47 PM
I would listen to what Sundeck had to say. He helped me a lot on my job search, and now I'm a supervisor and hiring my own employees.

What I look for is how a person sells their experience. If you've waited tables, and you're applying to work at a law firm, don't just tell me that you waited on tables and served food, tell me that you strong customer service skills, strong ability to work with the public, and are very good at problem solving. It goes a long way with me if a person can make their possibly mundane job relate to a seemingly unrelated position.

deltachi8
04-10-2008, 03:42 PM
What I look for is how a person sells their experience. If you've waited tables, and you're applying to work at a law firm, don't just tell me that you waited on tables and served food, tell me that you strong customer service skills, strong ability to work with the public, and are very good at problem solving. It goes a long way with me if a person can make their possibly mundane job relate to a seemingly unrelated position.

That is outstanding advice. As an HR Director I review resumes every day and the ones that stand out are those that tell me what a person can do for me (the company), not what they did for someone else.

cincinnati chili
04-12-2008, 12:19 AM
1,402 posts on Redszone should count for something.

SunDeck
04-12-2008, 09:10 AM
I would listen to what Sundeck had to say. He helped me a lot on my job search, and now I'm a supervisor and hiring my own employees.


Wow, you actually took my advice? Even the part about the fake social security number?

Nice.

15fan
04-12-2008, 10:05 PM
Looked over my fair share of resumes in the past decade.

Spell check and proper punctuation are your friends. The only thing that disqualifies someone quicker from consideration than poor spelling/punctuation is one of those awful objective statements at the top of the resume.

"Highly motivated individual with xx years of experience seeking challenging professional responsibilities in a dynamic organization with potential for rapid career advancement."

:barf:

I'm also a big fan of bullets. Prose and paragraphs are for term papers, not resumes.

I see your resume and I'm going to scan it for about 30 seconds to determine whether or not you make the first cut or if you're an easy one for me to push to the side. Make it easy for me to learn in those 30 seconds what your qualifications are.

Also, you keep your resume to 1 page until you have a decade of work experience.

KittyDuran
04-13-2008, 12:07 AM
Spell check and proper punctuation are your friends. The only thing that disqualifies someone quicker from consideration than poor spelling/punctuation is one of those awful objective statements at the top of the resume. :thumbup: Also abbreviations and ampersands (&) make a resume look unfinished as if you're in a hurry or do not know how to spell a word, even the word "and". Another thing to avoid is CAPs, just like on the internet its akin to screaming - there are exceptions including software, i.e. AutoCAD - then there is capitalizing the first letter of every other word or keywords.


I'm also a big fan of bullets.So I am - especially in listing software or skills.

Another thing which might not be to everyone's liking but I put past job descriptions in past tense.
Example: [Current job] Design various mechanical parts using AutoCAD 2007. [past job] Designed various mechanical parts using AutoCAD 2000.

Yachtzee
04-13-2008, 01:12 AM
:thumbup: Also abbreviations and ampersands (&) make a resume look unfinished as if you're in a hurry or do not know how to spell a word, even the word "and". Another thing to avoid is CAPs, just like on the internet its akin to screaming - there are exceptions including software, i.e. AutoCAD - then there is capitalizing the first letter of every other word or keywords.

So I am - especially in listing software or skills.

Another thing which might not be to everyone's liking but I put past job descriptions in past tense.
Example: [Current job] Design various mechanical parts using AutoCAD 2007. [past job] Designed various mechanical parts using AutoCAD 2000.

I've found that the focus of a resume can change when moving from one career path to another. As an IT guy, my resume detailed my experience on a project-to-project basis, focusing on my role within the project team and the technical skillsets used on the project. As an attorney, I've pretty much removed all references to technical skillsets in favor of highlighting major achievements for each job. My old IT resume was two pages because I had a lot of experience in a variety of programming languages on a variety of platforms. My law resume is one page and discusses some of the highlights of my legal intern work and I just list my non-legal technical work and the position I held. Different fields prioritize experience differently. So talk to people who have hiring or recruiting experience in your field and find out what kind of information hiring managers in your field are looking for. You don't want to waste people's time with overly detailed job descriptions, but you don't want to leave out important relevant experience either.

KittyDuran
04-13-2008, 08:53 AM
I've found that the focus of a resume can change when moving from one career path to another. As an IT guy, my resume detailed my experience on a project-to-project basis, focusing on my role within the project team and the technical skillsets used on the project. As an attorney, I've pretty much removed all references to technical skillsets in favor of highlighting major achievements for each job. My old IT resume was two pages because I had a lot of experience in a variety of programming languages on a variety of platforms. My law resume is one page and discusses some of the highlights of my legal intern work and I just list my non-legal technical work and the position I held. Different fields prioritize experience differently. So talk to people who have hiring or recruiting experience in your field and find out what kind of information hiring managers in your field are looking for. You don't want to waste people's time with overly detailed job descriptions, but you don't want to leave out important relevant experience either.IT resumes are time consuming because of the listings of projects and software used - most are at least 3 pages long - if the candidate has been working since 2000.

savafan
04-13-2008, 11:21 AM
Wow, you actually took my advice? Even the part about the fake social security number?

Nice.

I wouldn't be where I am today without it. ;)

RFS62
04-13-2008, 12:53 PM
I wouldn't be where I am today without it. ;)



Rut roh.

Sounds like a lawsuit coming.

:p:

SunDeck
04-13-2008, 01:58 PM
Rut roh.

Sounds like a lawsuit coming.

:p:

Yeah, I'm just glad Sava's employer has no idea who I am. Or are you talking about Sava? :eek:

I didn't have him sign a waiver releasing me of the eventual negative consequences of following my advice. But you know, in the interim he found himself a fabulous babe who, if he is smart, is probably undoing everything I ever told him to do. This story could have a happy ending after all.

Reds4Life
04-13-2008, 02:13 PM
My tip, wear a suit to the interview. You'd be shocked how many show up in jeans or some other crap. Do some research on the comany, know what they do, who their customers are, any market conditions they currently face. Ask lots questions also, remember you are also seeing if the company is a good fit for you.

SunDeck
04-13-2008, 02:39 PM
My tip, wear a suit to the interview. You'd be shocked how many show up in jeans or some other crap. Do some research on the comany, know what they do, who their customers are, any market conditions they currently face. Ask lots questions also, remember you are also seeing if the company is a good fit for you.

Sometimes it's the most basic advice that works.
A friend of mine works with at risk teenagers and the kids did an educational dvd on soft skills to get hired for summer jobs. One of the things they put in was "Don't show up high to the interview." There was a question about whether that was appropriate, but after talking to some kids who watched the video they left it in because it was actually novel to some of them.

KittyDuran
04-13-2008, 03:35 PM
My tip, wear a suit to the interview. You'd be shocked how many show up in jeans or some other crap. Do some research on the comany, know what they do, who their customers are, any market conditions they currently face. Ask lots questions also, remember you are also seeing if the company is a good fit for you.I actually got my first job (in 1979) because I was the only applicant that had bothered to dress up for the interview.

Caveat Emperor
04-13-2008, 08:13 PM
Ask lots questions also, remember you are also seeing if the company is a good fit for you.

Hell, with as tight as the job market is in the law field right now, I'd have signed on somewhere even if I was certain it was a front for a James Bond villain's evil scheme.

harangatang
04-13-2008, 11:06 PM
Thanks for all the advice everyone. I'm putting my resume and cover letter in the mail tomorrow and I'll let you know how it turns out.

*BaseClogger*
04-13-2008, 11:44 PM
I just wanted to say that as a young person I find all the advice in these threads to be very informative. Thanks to all... :)

BCubb2003
04-14-2008, 04:10 AM
Hell, with as tight as the job market is in the law field right now, I'd have signed on somewhere even if I was certain it was a front for a James Bond villain's evil scheme.

Those positions tend to pay well, but you have to be willing to relocate to some cavernous underwater fortress.

Reds Freak
04-14-2008, 10:22 AM
Looked over my fair share of resumes in the past decade.

Spell check and proper punctuation are your friends. The only thing that disqualifies someone quicker from consideration than poor spelling/punctuation is one of those awful objective statements at the top of the resume.

"Highly motivated individual with xx years of experience seeking challenging professional responsibilities in a dynamic organization with potential for rapid career advancement."

:barf:


That's interesting, 15fan. I know if you ask 20 people for advice on resumes, you're likely to get 20 different answers. However, just about every professor I've had and just about every book I've looked at on the subject recommends the use of that objective statement. I use it, it seems to me it's mainly a summary of my cover letter but I really don't know what else to put there. What would you recommend putting at the top of the resume? Just start with education or experience?

Yachtzee
04-14-2008, 11:57 AM
That's interesting, 15fan. I know if you ask 20 people for advice on resumes, you're likely to get 20 different answers. However, just about every professor I've had and just about every book I've looked at on the subject recommends the use of that objective statement. I use it, it seems to me it's mainly a summary of my cover letter but I really don't know what else to put there. What would you recommend putting at the top of the resume? Just start with education or experience?

I'm not 15fan, but I've also been told the objective is a waste of space. At best, it's ignored. At worst, it limits you by stating that you seek a position that doesn't mesh with what they're looking for. Besides, anything that can be said there can be put in your cover letter. Instead, I just put Education or Experience after my contact info. Whichever goes first depends on whether you have a bunch of experience or are just coming out of school. If you have some relevant experience and have been out of school for a while, put experience first. If you're just leaving college and seeking an entry-level position, put education first.

Danny Serafini
04-14-2008, 12:35 PM
The objective statement might be worthwhile if you have something to say, but 99% of the time it's the useless "Highly motivated individual with xx years of experience seeking challenging professional responsibilities in a dynamic organization with potential for rapid career advancement." That's a waste of time. It doesn't really even say anything, it's just jibberish.


My tip, wear a suit to the interview. You'd be shocked how many show up in jeans or some other crap.

We just got burned on that. Heard the results of an interview last Friday. The guy showed up in jeans with his shirt tails hanging out, not a good start. He then led off by telling the employer how he's been clean and sober for a year now. Needless to say he didn't get the job.

SunDeck
04-14-2008, 02:12 PM
I'm not 15fan, but I've also been told the objective is a waste of space. At best, it's ignored. At worst, it limits you by stating that you seek a position that doesn't mesh with what they're looking for. Besides, anything that can be said there can be put in your cover letter. Instead, I just put Education or Experience after my contact info. Whichever goes first depends on whether you have a bunch of experience or are just coming out of school. If you have some relevant experience and have been out of school for a while, put experience first. If you're just leaving college and seeking an entry-level position, put education first.

The Objective statement is a waste if it is stating the obvious and/or if you are also submitting a cover letter.

However, if you are trying to move from one career to another, or if you are applying for a job and your fit for it is not intuitively obvious then an objective statement may help. In other words, it offers you a chance to say "I'm not currently employed in a position that sounds like it is good preparation for this job, but I'm seeking to apply the skill set that I have developed to find a position like the one you are advertising." But for the most part, you should try to do that in your cover letter.

Is it always a waste of time and space? Probably 75% of the time, yes. But there may be an appropriate time and reason for using the objective statement, such as at a job fair, where you may not be applying for jobs, but you do want something you can hand off to people. It may serve as a reminder to them later.

Objective: To obtain a position in sales and marketing that will allow me to utilize my communication and interpersonal skills and that will offer opportunities to, yada, yada, yada....you get the picture.

cincinnati chili
04-15-2008, 02:13 AM
The Objective statement is a waste

I dunno. I'd hire someone if they had the guts to put the following Objective on their resume.

http://www.geocities.com/officespacemovie/Pictures/lawrence.jpg

Objective: "Two chicks at the same time."

SunDeck
04-15-2008, 06:54 AM
I dunno. I'd hire someone if they had the guts to put the following Objective on their resume.

Objective: "Two chicks at the same time."

Me too, I like goal oriented people.

RFS62
04-15-2008, 08:19 AM
A man's gotta have a dream

Raisor
04-15-2008, 08:38 AM
Wear pants.

That makes it easier for those of us that don't wear pants to get the job.

Less competition.

vaticanplum
04-15-2008, 06:24 PM
I'm late to the party, but another quick note -- the cover letter can be just as important as the resume, if not more. The cover letter is NOT your resume in prose form. Stick to the facts in the resume -- here's where I worked, here's what I did (I like the bullet points too) -- and then take a chance to very, very concisely sell yourself in your cover letter. In your resume, you sold ice cream. In your cover letter, you gained strong communication skills as a salesman and you now consider those to be your greatest asset. (CONCISELY.)

Tailor your cover letter to each application. It's a pain in the butt, but employers notice and appreciate it. This cuts down on the work you have to do on your resume each time as well. You would really be shocked at how many perfectly viable resumes are thrown in the trash because the cover letter is poorly written or boring or a stupid form thing. A good cover letter really stands out.

deltachi8
04-15-2008, 08:54 PM
I'm late to the party, but another quick note -- the cover letter can be just as important as the resume, if not more. The cover letter is NOT your resume in prose form. Stick to the facts in the resume -- here's where I worked, here's what I did (I like the bullet points too) -- and then take a chance to very, very concisely sell yourself in your cover letter. In your resume, you sold ice cream. In your cover letter, you gained strong communication skills as a salesman and you now consider those to be your greatest asset. (CONCISELY.)

Tailor your cover letter to each application. It's a pain in the butt, but employers notice and appreciate it. This cuts down on the work you have to do on your resume each time as well. You would really be shocked at how many perfectly viable resumes are thrown in the trash because the cover letter is poorly written or boring or a stupid form thing. A good cover letter really stands out.

Good advice, but I can tell you many employers don't read them (for example, my boss skips right by them when I hand her resumes to read). That said, what will stand out (in a bad way) is a poorly written, overly-long cover letters with misspelled words.

Also, do dress for an interview, no matter what the position is. Pants are a nice start (sorry, Raisor)

savafan
04-15-2008, 10:02 PM
Yeah, I'm among those who don't really read cover letters.

vaticanplum
04-15-2008, 11:05 PM
Good advice, but I can tell you many employers don't read them (for example, my boss skips right by them when I hand her resumes to read). That said, what will stand out (in a bad way) is a poorly written, overly-long cover letters with misspelled words.

Also, do dress for an interview, no matter what the position is. Pants are a nice start (sorry, Raisor)

I guess it depends on the profession. Where I work the cover letter is paramount -- so many people have experience that the cover letter is the only thing to set them apart. But I have a writing-based job, so that fits, I guess.

15fan
04-16-2008, 04:49 PM
I'm not 15fan, but I've also been told the objective is a waste of space. At best, it's ignored. At worst, it limits you by stating that you seek a position that doesn't mesh with what they're looking for. Besides, anything that can be said there can be put in your cover letter. Instead, I just put Education or Experience after my contact info. Whichever goes first depends on whether you have a bunch of experience or are just coming out of school. If you have some relevant experience and have been out of school for a while, put experience first. If you're just leaving college and seeking an entry-level position, put education first.

Couldn't have said it any better.

cincinnati chili
04-17-2008, 01:43 AM
I guess it depends on the profession. Where I work the cover letter is paramount -- so many people have experience that the cover letter is the only thing to set them apart. But I have a writing-based job, so that fits, I guess.

If you are hiring someone for a job that involves writing, then I think you're absolutely nuts not to carefully scrutinize a cover letter. Resumes and writing samples are usually heavily edited. The cover letter can be a clue about how much care the applicant takes on a daily basis with the run-of-the-mill writing projects. If someone is sloppy, this is the way to tell.

I realize it's not as important in some other fields.

You can't please everyone. I know some hiring persons (i.e. lazy impetuous persons, generally) who instinctively throw away any resume that more than one page long. I, on the other hand, am skeptical of anyone who's been in the work force for 20 years but still has a one-page resume.

RichRed
05-02-2008, 12:53 PM
Bumping this back up.

I've been out of the job-applying loop for some time now so for you HR folks out there, is it considered acceptable/preferred/frowned on these days to follow up with the HR dept. with a call or email after submitting a resume for an open position?

cincinnati chili
05-03-2008, 10:24 AM
Bumping this back up.

I've been out of the job-applying loop for some time now so for you HR folks out there, is it considered acceptable/preferred/frowned on these days to follow up with the HR dept. with a call or email after submitting a resume for an open position?

What is the industry that you applied to? Were there any specific instructions that said NOT to follow up with calls?

Unless the answer to the second question is 'yes,' I would say that 99% of the time a follow up call won't hurt you, and there's always a chance it could help you, particularly if HR starts asking you questions and you sound like you know what you're talking about.

Any second opinions out there on this?

Reds Freak
05-03-2008, 10:46 AM
Unless the answer to the second question is 'yes,' I would say that 99% of the time a follow up call won't hurt you, and there's always a chance it could help you, particularly if HR starts asking you questions and you sound like you know what you're talking about.

Any second opinions out there on this?

I've been told that same advice with regards to the follow up call. However, the times I have tried this I feel like I'm being a real pest to the individual who acts like he has better things to do. I have usually been met with an attitude (especially if it's HR) and a "Yea, we've got your stuff, we'll call you when we narrow it down". So I have started to use a follow up email. I'll get the name of the person who would be my supervisor and shoot a quick email. I have for the most part had a little better reception with this method, whether or not it is successful as far as getting the interview, I don't know...

WVRed
05-03-2008, 11:12 AM
I'm not graduating college yet, but a lot of what you learn in a business communications class will go a long way.

One thing I have always heard when submitting a resume is if you include references, find a teacher. Teachers are more apt on a reference, if checked, to tell your learning abilities better than you can express them.