Applying to a job: writing a great presentation letter and resume
A few years ago I was finishing my university degree and I started to apply to an internship. I faced the difficulty of how to make my Curriculum Vitae (CV) and what to write in my presentation letter.
I tried to imagine what the persons that would receive my contact would like and how could I be noticed among all the CV's that they get.
And then, after I send it, came that stressful time of waiting for some reply, some contact asking for an interview, but most of the times I would get no response... And that really make me a little bit mad.
Now that I have my own company, I try to reply to every CV I receive, and most of the times, because we're a small company, I have to give a negative answer.
But, do to the current economic situation (specially in Portugal), when I post any kind of job ad, I receive more than 500 CV's... Do you have any idea of the time it takes or the costs, to analyse all these curriculums? It's umbearable... So what I do it' to take 10/20 from the pile I have and I work on that... If after that I can't find some potencial candidates, I take a look into another pile of 10/20 cv's.. These means that on all the other CV's there could be much better candidates but I haven't even take a look at them!
So, when we apply to something, we really need to stand out and focus on every detail of our apply process!
First impressions count a lot, and what really shocks me is the lack of attention that people put on their resumes and their presentation letters. Some of them I just discard because they make no sense...
Points to consider on a presentation letter
First of all, every CV you send should have a presentation letter (or presentation email). It's your first chance to make yourself noticed!
So, investigate a little bit the company that you're applying to, learn what their core business is, what's their position on the market, what other employees think of it (use Linkedin to network), ... This is also a good research for the future interview when you're selected, this way you already have some homework done :)
Then, write why you're applying to that particular job or company, what made you consider it, why you would like to join the company, what you can offer to them, ...
I know that in some cases you just can't find any info on that company, in these cases you should have a general presentation letter, and send that one, where you don't get in so much detail.
Get Help Writing a Great Presentation Letter
So, you're ready to start writing your presentation letter and you really want to make an excellent first impression but... the inspiration just doesn't come... And you start getting frustrated...
I know how that feels, and that's why I went looking for professional help in my first few presentation letters! If there's people out there that are dedicated 24/7 doing this, the most effective way posible, why shouldn't I try this, at least once? They usually know the human resources from the big companies, and know what they like to see.
There're several great programs/books outhere, I will just show you two that I worship, so you can choose which one fits you best:
- Jimmy Sweeney's amazing cover letters;
- 400 Cover Letters and 400 CV's for all Industries and Positions;
Please leave your comment below telling me which one you liked most and how it helped you!
You can also check on ebay (look at the end of this hub) where there're several people offering their services at excellent prices!
I find lot's of people saying: "I don't have a job, how will I get the money to invest on this products?"... I'm talking about less than 20$ for the book or 30% for the ebay services... It just means you hav to save a dollar a day (yes, 1$ per day) and in one month you'll get the money to invest that could change your entire life!
Bare with me for a second... how much time do you waste on looking at the newspaper classified ads, or to craiglist, or walking on the streets trying to find a job? You spent much more than these 30$, are you're doing it without the right tools to back you up!
Points to consider on a curriculum vitae
If you are on Europe the best thing you can do is use the Europass CV. This way you'll get a CV that most of the employers are use to read, and they can find fast the info they want.
It's very easy to fill in and then you'll get a good CV.
I don't know if outside the EU you have something similar, but I think you can also use this one or at least use it as a reference.
Attention to this, if you are applying for your first job, just leaving University or high school, your CV should never have more than one (1) page, remember this. If you have experience, don't create a CV with more than 2 pages... HR people just don't have time to read all that info... Specially if we're talking about small companies, where usually it's the CEO who does the recruitment process. Do you think he has time to read a 5 pages resume? It would take him 2 to 5 minutes for ONE CV? ONE!!! Imagine if he gets 300 or 500, how long would the recruitment process take?
Too long CV's are also boring and get the opposite reaction you're expecting (this doesn't apply to scientists and similar jobs we're you're supposed to present all your articles, and lots of other stuff).
For some jobs it helps being creative, so check out this amazing cv's examples in my hub Creative Resumes - Making a difference while applying to a job
Most common errors on presentation letters/emails
- Applying to the wrong job: this really confuses me... if I post an add for a software developer why do I get a CV from a lawyer? Don't just send resumes to everyone, choose well!
- Not being exclusive: I really don't like to receive an email with a CV and then noticed that the email was sent to 10/20/50 different companies. You can even be well intentioned but the feeling I immediately have is you just didn't care, and collected a few email addresses and then send the same thing to all... For you, working at my company or any other is the same, and that doesn't scores points!
- Templates: It's normal to get a presentation letter template, but pay really attention to changing a few details, like the name of the company... some people, when applying to several jobs, forget to change the name of the companies between mails and then company "A" receives a letter saying "I'm very interested in working on company B"... Don't let this happen, remember details are very important!
Most common errors on CV's
- Too much information: don't get in the temptation to write everything about your life, remember, it's a resume... Just write the important information;
- Dispersing: if you're applying to a computer technician job and you worked in 3 other computer companies, then Macdonald's, kfc, or other things, just present the computer companies jobs.. Keep just the relevant information for the specific job you're applying to, but if you only got experience in companies that don't relate to the jobs in question, then you can present them
And you guys, have you ever received a really bad resume? And what more suggestions do you have to make good ones? Please give me your feedback so I can update this hub :)
I've also wrote a few more hubs to help you on finding your dream job, or any job at all:
- When you have a job, how many hours do your work per day? 8h! When you're looking for a job, how many hours should you spend doing it? exaclty, 8 hours! Here's a few more tips on getting a new job for all you guys that are unemployed!
- Try do be creative on your resume, stand out
- You have a great resume and presentation letter, and you're finally called for an interview, and now? Score points at the interview!
- As soon as you get that new job, please check out this other hub: How to Get that Promotion - Be the best at your job
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