It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3…

June 4, 2008 at 3:28 am Leave a comment

When you’re applying for a job, you can wax poetically about your near-Ivy League education, your selfless volunteer work and your relevant experience. But it all comes down to three crucial elements.

  1. Why you’re applying for the job.
  2. What you can do for the company.
  3. What makes you different from everyone else applying.

If you can provide thoughtful and compelling responses to those three challenges, then you’re well on your way.

1. Why you’re applying for the job.

Use your cover letter to explain why you are applying for the job – saying you heard about it from a friend or you saw the job posting online is not enough. Prove that you’ve done the background work. This is an opportunity to mention that you admire their work – give a concrete example. Tell them you want to make a difference. Tell them their products are great. Tell them you know they’re going through a rough time and you want to help turn it around.

Be honest – there’s nothing worse than a false compliment. Oh and the wrong answer is to say you’re applying for the job because you’re unemployed or your current job stinks.

Once you’re invited to interview for the position, I guarantee you’ll have to answer these questions: Why are you here? Why our company? Why did you major in —? What interests you about this industry? Why are you leaving your previous employer?

2. What you can do for the company.

Demonstrate to them that you can not only complete the responsibilities of the position, but that you will exceed their expectations. In addition to providing a brief overview of your accomplishments, provide details in your resume. Include key projects, responsibilities and achievements. Mention noteworthy awards. Explain how your education and training has prepared you well.

3. What makes you different than everyone else applying.

It is a competitive job market. More people than ever have advanced education, including undergraduate and graduate degrees. Internships are commonplace. The Internet has opened up lines of communication – connecting well-qualified candidates to job opportunities they may not have ever even known existed otherwise.

As a marketing student, I learned that the key to marketing was to differentiate. What makes your product (yourself) different? Why should a potential employer BUY you?

  • Did you just complete your education? New and improved!
  • Do you have lesser years of experience and command a lower salary than more seasoned candidates? On sale, now!
  • Do you have expertise in a specialty area of interest to the potential employer? Added bonus!

Standing apart from the crowd may mean applying for the job in an innovative way, making contacts through networking, or avoiding the (dreaded) resume template. When I build a resume, I try to innovate. Rearticulate common phrases. Present information in a format that is easier to understand and points out what’s truly important about the candidate.

Check out my portfolio to see some examples!

Finally, a very easy way to stand out is to send a brief and genuine, handwritten thank you note.


Entry filed under: cover letter, Interview, Interview Follow-up, resume. Tags: , , , , .

Please, send Thank Yous Top Interview Mistakes – Part 1

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