This is the season for career moves—it’s the end of the fiscal year, and companies are re-formulating business plans, testing the investment waters, and placing ads for new hires. At the same time, individuals often look for jobs over the summer while the children are out of school, and present work demands may be slow while co-workers go on vacation. What makes an experienced person a better choice than someone younger and perhaps more open to being molded into the employee a company is looking for? Here are five things I’ve found really help to keep in mind when putting together letters of interest and polishing up your resume or vita in preparation for getting an interview for the position you really want. These can make you stand out in a crowd of job seekers, and help you land that next important job offer:
1. Delete all references to years over a decade. If you wanna impress with length of time spent in a field or doing a certain skill, just say “over a decade.” Unfortunately people in positions to hire you won’t be impressed if you’re approaching fifty, no matter how awesome you are. Fifty means higher health insurance premiums for them, possibly more sick days, and stuck-in-the-mud work habits, not to mention the all-too-real fear that older people are not as adaptable or as flexible as younger people are. Whether or not any of this applies to you or even to forty-somethings in general, the perception is strong enough to make it logical and even smart to get them to “look the other way” and focus on why these skills make you an excellent choice, which has everything to do with your abilities, and absolutely nothing to do with how long you’ve been doing something. Make them think you’re in your 30s, and they’ll immediately believe you are on top of things because you’re clever, not because you’ve been doing the same thing for decades, which can just translate into “it took me this long to figure things out,” not “I’m sassy and smart.”
2. Get what you want to say on paper by making a draft letter of interest that can be tailored to specific job inquiries. State what you do and why you want the job. Tweaking should include making the person who reads this believe you are the person they’ve been looking for, they just honestly didn’t know you are out there. Change that by re-stating anything with the word “if,” “might,” “should,” or similar perhaps-words to “does,” “can,” and “do.” The meaning is, you’re doing what they want and you’re the answer to their prayers, not you and that company might be a good fit.
3. I wouldn’t state outright that you’ve googled them, which is what they’ll think if you say, “I’ve looked at your website and your company Facebook profile.” That should be implicit without stating it. Just say, “Having familiarized myself with your products and services, here is what I can do for you.” Let them think you’ve read all their wonderful advertising, and are blown away by their wicked skilz.
4. Link up what they do to what you do. Like this: “Your service X dovetails nicely with my experience Y. We should totally hook up.” Of course you want to not say it in ValleySpeak, but you get the idea.
5. State things you really want to happen as if they’re already true, because hey, they are (or certainly should be). Example: Instead of “I’m looking for ways to blend art and music into my graphic arts/administrative professional type career,” try saying “I combine my passion for art and music into everything I do. It keeps me tuned to the importance of communication and creativity when dealing with clients, and makes me keenly aware of nuances that others may miss.” See? They’ll wonder how they got by without you.
This way you’re more likely to have multiple job offers so that you can choose the one you like best.
Finally: Remember thou art awesome and that you’re almost anybody’s dream come true . . . you just need to find the anybodys who is your dreams come true!