Dear Job Seeker,

Given the current market conditions, it is no surprise that there is ample helpful advice and information for job seekers. So, I would like to share with you a hiring manager’s perspective and ask you a favor.

Please, step outside your individual perspective and step into the shoes of the recruiter or hiring manager for a moment.

As a hiring manager, my number one goal is retention. I am not simply looking to fill an empty slot.

I am not looking to provide a temporary pit stop on applicant’s road to the perfect job. The Company has a mission and a business plan. The hiring manager’s responsibility is to find people who can join in the effort to carry out that mission and to contribute to the Company’s success in the marketplace short and long term.

The job applicant can help the hiring manager achieve his/her goal by providing evidence, not just talk, that s/he is the best choice.

The application process is your first chance to show you are a team player and that you are a serious candidate, one concerned about your new employer as much as about yourself and your interests. You have an opportunity to show the Company that you can follow directions, are sincere and serious about doing a good job, and that you have the ability to use available resources for overcoming a challenge to achieve success.

In my experience, the percentage of applicants who provide thorough, complete and correct applications is low, so you do not have to do anything “eye-catching” or extra ordinary. A simple well-written cover letter and a well organized, standard resume will stand out from the rest, believe it or not.

It Doesn’t Take Much to Make Us Happy

We all make mistakes. But, the little things like grammar, spelling, complete information and appropriate tone, signal professionalism, period.

Errors which could have been corrected with readily available tools and information (spell-check, how to’s, the Company website, articles like this) show me how you will do your job.

Your livelihood depends on you getting a job.  That’s a big thing. So, if you don’t put your best foot forward for yourself and a task as important as finding a job, you won’t be able to convince the hiring manager that you will do so for the Company.

The Cover Letter

You’ve got about 60 seconds – Go!:

Use the two or three paragraphs, the 60 seconds you have to:

a) let me know you read the job description,

b) understand the duties and responsibilities,

c) know about the Company’s mission, and

d) convey a keen sense that you know what it takes to succeed.

Isn’t getting the job your first assignment for the Company? Show me that you are serious and that you can successfully complete the task.

Please do not regurgitate the job posting in your cover letter. I wrote it so I know what it says. A specific detail or very specific, short example of your past success that will directly apply to your future success with the Company will pique my interest and encourage me to read more about you.

Stock sentences, clichés, or worse, generic cover letters can prevent your resume from even being looked at by a hiring manager. This applies to entry-level positions as well as for senior management slots.

If you plucked content from a “How to Write Cover Letters” tutorial, at best, it says you know how to copy and paste. At worst, it’s plagiarism.  Recruiters and hiring managers are reading more applications than ever and can spot lack of originality and genuineness in seconds.

We really are looking for reasons to choose you in order to reach our goal. Don’t give us any reason to dismiss your application at the first pass.

Next time we’ll talk about Crossing into New Fields, Fit, and a simple mind shift that I expect to see in my winning candidates. Stay tuned and please comment below.