It’s easy to look up resume examples or simply follow along with a job posting – but what do hiring managers actually want to see from you? Here are some specific things you should do to elevate your job application in a hiring manager’s eyes that you may not know about.
1. Show you’ve researched the company
Every applicant is showing off their skills and experience and you can get a leg up by adding an extra layer: show off how well you know the company you’re applying to. Hiring managers love when applicants do this because they know going into the interview with someone who’s already educated – and passionate – about the work that they do. Immediately, the fact you’re familiar with the company puts you a step ahead of other applicants.
Do as much research as you can on the company – look over their entire website and all of their social media accounts, and see if you can find press releases or social media posts related to them. Wherever it’s relevant, sprinkle the knowledge you find throughout your cover letter and the email you send with your application. For example, mention how the company’s values line up with your own, or how you’ve worked on projects similar to ones they’ve done in the past.
2. Include your personal branding
Yes, you should be tailoring your application to each job you apply to as much as possible, but that doesn’t mean that hiring managers want to see someone who seems entirely tailor-made for the company – it comes across as forced if you overdo it. So, make sure you add as much of your own personality in your application as well. After all, this will give the hiring manager a better picture of you before you actually show up in their office!
You can do this through the template you use for your application. For example, pick a color and layout that appeals to you as a person. Feel free to slip in details about yourself wherever relevant, too – don’t get too personal, but talk about your passions and experience as they relate to the company’s values or the job description.
3. Use keywords as much as possible
Here’s an industry fact that jobseekers may not know: plenty of hiring jobs use applicant tracking software. ATS are databases of every applicant who applied for a certain job. This type of software can often do some of the work for hiring managers – hiring managers will type in keywords for certain skills they want on their team, and applications containing those words will be suggested to them. Sometimes, the hiring manager doesn’t even do it manually and lets the software do all the work, pulling out the best-optimized applications for the hiring manager to view.
Even if you’re applying to a company that doesn’t use ATS, keyword use is still critical. Pull as many industry keywords and job posting keywords as you possibly can and sprinkle them throughout your application. On your resume, you can even bold keywords as you see fit –when the hiring manager looks at your resume, they’ll automatically know where to read. If you do this, it’s best to tailor them around your biggest accomplishments so that the hiring manager will pick up on those immediately.
4. Focus on achievements, not skills
Hiring managers want to know what your skills are, but they won’t be impressed if you simply list them off. What you need to do to win over a hiring manager’s attention is list the successes your skills have brought you throughout your career. Employers will be more impressed by achievements than a simple list of skills because they give evidence to your claims and show that you would bring their company success.
In both your resume and your cover letter, focus on achievements more than duties at prior jobs. Highlight your biggest successes as the first bullet points on each job listed on your resume before transitioning into responsibilities, and your cover letter should heavily focus on achievements too.
Refreshing your application package according to these four tips will ensure that your resume and cover letter are exactly what hiring managers want to see. So, make those edits and ensure that the next hiring manager who looks over your application is impressed with you before you even show up for an interview!
Struggling with how to show your personality in your application? Purchase a Style Nine to Five Job Application Template!
Emily Morrison is a media professional with passions for writing, film and popular culture.
Feature Image: Adobe Stock