As a campus recruiter, students are often asking what they can do to stand out among the sea of applicants. While nothing is foolproof, here are 5 tips that will improve your chances of landing an interview with a prospective employer:
- Complete the full application. Due to the need to track applicants in two systems (both the school’s career site AND the company’s applicant tracking system), you’ll often need to complete two applications for one job. The application may also call for a cover letter, letter of reference, or completion of an online assessment. Oftentimes if you don’t complete all steps, you’re automatically out of the running! Completing every step demonstrates that you’re detail-oriented and that you really want it.
- Know your audience. Tailoring your resume and any other documents to the company, industry, or role you’re applying for shows that you’re serious! If you’re blanket-applying to many different organizations, create a template for each industry you’re applying for and the fill in the blanks. Warning: don’t forget to swap out the generic “Insert Company Name” for the actual company you are applying for.
- Keep it short, sweet, and scannable. Seeing a two-page (or sometimes three!) resume from a college junior is frustrating. While I know that you only want to show your success over time, recruiters often have thousands of resumes in their queue. My recommendation when it comes to your resume is to demonstrate key deliverables you completed and how you contributed to the team or organization. You also need to ensure that your resume is easy to scan through for the highlights. If you’re applying for a marketing role, highlight marketing-specific tasks or roles you’ve had in the past. And it’s okay if you don’t have the experience yet – you can use a cover letter to demonstrate how your skill set will translate into the role you’re applying for!
- Show that you can deliver. Metrics are a huge deal these days, and your resume should use metrics to show your success and impact. While it may be easier to do for some experiences than others, you know more than you think you do. For example, if you were a camp counselor for 5 years, use metrics to demonstrate your loyalty to the camp and how you kept your campers coming back year after year.
- Lastly: the devil is in the details. I learned this from the CEO of the first company I worked for, and it’s never truer than in the application phase. I’ve seen candidates send in cover letters with the wrong company and resumes with the wrong phone number or no email address. To avoid this, have as many people as you can review your resume. You can also print it out and read it aloud, line by line, to catch errors (trust me, it works). Also ensure that the attachments you’re uploading online aren’t labeled with another company’s name; it’s a dead giveaway that you’re not truly interested in a company. It also makes it easier for recruiters if you clearly title each document you submit. An example of this is titling a document with your first and last name, followed by the item description (i.e., “John Smith_Resume.pdf”).
Sophia McMaster is the Talent Acquisition Specialist for University Relations at RB, a Parsippany, New Jersey-based CPG firm focused on health, hygiene and home. If you’re interested in opportunities with RB, please visit rb.com/careers and attend their employer presentation session in Wasserman Presentation Room A this Monday, 1/27 at 5:00pm.