What can you do to make sure your application gets noticed and you land an interview? Here are some tips to consider when submitting your CV.
1. Read the job specs
Read the job specifications carefully and respond to each one in your motivational letter. If you’re applying for more than one job, change your motivational letter accordingly. A copy-and-paste approach demonstrates a lack of effort and interest.
Do some research about the company where you’re applying and consider its management your target audience – tailor the style and tone of your cover letter to align with the company’s organsational culture.
2. Your email body copy makes the first impression, not the attachments
Make it quirky and gripping – those hiring have to read through many applications. Think of how you catch a fish – the email is where you hook the fish and then pull it in gently. The subject line, spelling, grammar and formatting should be clean – one typo could mean the fish won’t take the bait. This is your elevator pitch – it’s your one chance to get a foot in the door.
3. Make your CV easy to read
What are companies interested in? Your experience, your qualifications, your achievements, what you can bring to the table. List the details chronologically from the present backwards. Check your grammar, spelling and punctuation – and then check it again. Keep your CV succinct – multiple-page CVs often reflect a lack of experience, rather than the opposite.
4. Make your cover letter relevant
Your application should be neither too formal nor too laid-back. Read up on what the company has been doing lately and refer to this in your cover letter. Understand the industry and the particular organisation where you’re applying and demonstrate subtly how you’re a good fit. A conversational tone is often best – don’t say things that you wouldn’t say directly to someone interviewing you.
5. Some words and phrases to avoid
Avoid clichés and statements that actually say nothing, including:
- “I hope this email finds you well”
- “Dear Sir/Madam”
- “I am a highly motivated individual”
- “I am a hard worker”
- “I pay attention to detail” (especially when there is a glaring typo in the same paragraph)
- “Strong work ethic”
- “Passionate about”
6. Find the balance between overselling and underselling yourself
No one believes a line like "I have exceptional web development skills" from an intern (unless you can show you do, with an outstanding portfolio). Similarly, don't give so little information the person reading it questions what is missing.
7. Keep your profiles and references updated
Make sure your LinkedIn profile is updated and that your references' details are up to date.
8. Be authentic
Remember that you never know what an employer may be looking for so don’t make assumptions or try to be something you’re not. For example, we value diversity at Flow Communications – there’s no one-size-fits-all. We are Kit Kats, Bar Ones, Ferrero Rochers, Lindt, Smarties and Mars bars, all mixed together – because being different together works for us. At Flow we want to know who you really are, because authenticity and integrity are important to us. We want people who know what it means to work together as a team – to put egos and personal ambitions aside and focus on producing the best work possible.
Edwin Reichel is a senior account executive at Flow Communications (www.flowsa.com), one of South Africa’s leading independent marketing and communications agencies.