The Richmond Register

November 17, 2013

Customize applications, resumes, cover letters

By Jennifer Napier
Register Correspondent

RICHMOND — “I’ve turned in over a hundred resumes in the last six months and I haven’t received a single phone call for an interview,” your friend complains. “I know some of these places are hiring because I’ve heard people have gotten jobs there since I’ve turned in my resume “

You ask your friend several questions about the content of their resume, how many pages it contained and where they have applied.

Your friend replies,  “I feel like I’ve got a great resume. I worked really hard to make sure that I have all of my previous employers listed on it, along with the skills and duties I have acquired at each employer. It’s just so frustrating because I know I’m qualified for the jobs, but no one will contact me.”

Your friend looks tired and exhausted. The tone of their voice tells you that they’re feeling hopeless.

Your friend goes on to say, “I’m so tired of applying for jobs. I’ve got it down to a routine for the application process — open the application, copy and paste all of my information into the online app, then attach my master resume and cover letter. When everything looks ready, I click submit. I don’t even expect a phone call anymore, but I have to keep trying. I need a job.”

You tell the friend,  “I know what your problem is. You are not customizing your application, your resume, or your cover letter. Employers want applications that are customized so they know the candidate is serious about the job.”

Your friend looks at you puzzled.

“What do you mean by customize?”

Employers are very experienced in reviewing applications, cover letters, and resumes. They can tell when a job seeker wants a J-O-B more than they want to pursue a career.

What’s the difference between a successful candidates’ application, resume and cover letter, and that of an average job seeker’s?

The answer is the amount of time, effort and thought that went into the process.

Having a master resume and cover letter is an ineffective way to apply for a job and isn’t going to produce the results you want.

To create a customized resume and cover letter, it takes time to read the job description thoroughly and do the research on the employer. You need to learn more about the employer’s product, or service, and be able to describe how you’ll be able to contribute to their team.

Review your experiences and identify relevant examples that match the skill sets the employer is looking for.

Focus on how you can fill their immediate need, and how you’ll be able to hit the ground running, if hired to fill their position.

Customized applications, resumes and cover letters indicate to an employer that you are serious about the position. It also indicates that you’ve taken the time to tailor the items to meet the needs of the employer.

Effective applications are about quality, not quantity.