As our team at BPR continues to grow, we are inundated with resumes and cover letters from eager job seekers – usually several a day, even when we’re not actively hiring. Some are memorable, some less so. Knowing that, how do you make sure your application is not only reviewed, but that you also nab an interview, especially if you’re new to the field or the workforce?
You’re in luck! Since you took the time to check out our blog, you’ve already put yourself above 90 percent of the candidates who reach out. As a token of our thanks, we’re laying out a foolproof guide to landing your resume at the top of the pile at B.
1. Get personal. By that, we mean in your cover letter. We’re sure you’re a hard worker, and reliable with excellent people skills. So is everyone else, and they’re putting it in their cover letters too. Instead, tell us why you want to work with BPR – why your passions align with ours and our clients’, and why we might want to spend Monday-Friday working alongside you. And PLEASE don’t address your materials to “hiring manager.” We don’t have one of those, and neither do most small agencies. If you don’t know specifically to whom to address your letter, it’s usually safe to send it to the partners. You can also pick someone from our website with whom you have something in common (maybe she spoke to your college class last semester or you both attended the same university), and address/send it to that person. As a last resort, just send it to “Team B.”
The bottom line is a letter that has a specific recipient, or group of recipients, is much more likely to be acknowledged by someone than one going to a nameless title that doesn’t belong to anyone.
2. While we’re talking about cover letters, make sure yours – as well as your resume – is pristine. We do a lot of writing at BPR, and we want to know you can too. If you are familiar with AP style, utilize it throughout your resume and cover letter, so we know you’ll be ready to jump right in when you start with us. Watch typos and errors; we wouldn’t want to see them in documents we send to media or clients, so we don’t want to see them as part of your first impression. Additionally, think about the overall design of your resume, including the font you utilize. We’re not picking on Comic Sans (ok, we are) but think about how the look of your resume represents you as a professional.
Finally, lead with the skills that are applicable to the job for which you’re applying, and devote most of your ink to them. We don’t need to see a quarter of your resume taken up by a headshot or an “Objective” statement. We’re fairly confident your objective is to get the job.
3. Do something creative to make yourself stand out. Sometimes when we’re pitching clients or media, we’ll send them a little something special to ensure we stand out amongst the noise. It can be a fun little teaser to the campaign we’re about to present; sometimes it’s just a little something that demonstrates our unique personality as an agency.
This can be as simple as a line or two in your cover letter that grabs our attention, and shows off your personal pizzaz. Once, however, we were hand-delivered a printed resume attached to a flip flop, from a candidate who wanted to drive home her love of travel (presumably, the beach was her go-to). That was years ago, and it still stands out as one of the most memorable applications we’ve ever received.
4. When you nab that interview, come prepared. You’ve sent a copy of your resume electronically, but please also bring several printed copies for those with whom you’re meeting (and extras for others who may pop in). You want to ensure all your great experience is highlighted and discussed, and your interviewer may be coming from a meeting just prior to yours without a copy readily on-hand. Think about bringing a printed portfolio of your work as a leave-behind as well, or showcase digital examples while you have a captive audience and can speak to what makes them special.
Lastly, come prepared with questions specific to the job and our agency, and bring tools to take notes. It helps demonstrate that you did some research, and that you’re equally as invested in finding the right position as we are the right candidate.
When you’re done with the interview, follow up. A quick email thanking those in the room and addressing next steps is great. Some candidates also send a handwritten note a few days later. Everyone enjoys getting mail that’s not a bill, and we love this touch (we’ve even received rare follow-up cookies and flowers!).
5. Finally, don’t apply for a job for which you’re not qualified; network instead. Applying for the wrong job wastes everyone’s time, and can leave a bad impression; disregarding required qualifications makes it appear as if you didn’t even read the job description and are just sending out resumes to every open position in town.
Instead, if you’re anxious to work at B, and don’t see a listing for a relevant job, reach out and ask a team member to grab coffee so you can pick his or her brain about the best way to get a foot in the door. By doing that, you’ve established a relationship, so when a job that fits your skillset does open, you already have a leg up. It’s a tactic good PR professionals employ when building media relationships as well.
Let’s face it, our job is all about making others’ easier, finding creative ways to stand out amongst competitors and building relationships. Showcase those skills when applying, and it will be clear you’ll rock the job before you even get the offer.