When you were in elementary school, did your teachers ever have you do the “following directions” test? Here’s an example of a few. They were tricky and designed to make kids who were over eager and didn’t follow instructions look and feel foolish in order to teach them to take their time and not rush through assignments. Well if you took one of those tests and it actually taught you something, you probably didn’t apply to my Marketing Specialist job.
In the last paragraph of my job ad, I requested that candidates send their resume AND A COVER LETTER to me directly and I included my email address. Out of the 16 applications I have received, I have only received one cover letter. Presumably, most candidates probably skimmed the ad to make sure it was a decent fit, hit the apply button, and off zoomed their resume. If this sounds like something you’ve done before – you are making a huge mistake for a few reasons:
- You are showing that you’re not detail-oriented and that you rush through things
Just like the kids in the “following directions” test, you’ve made a fool of yourself. Sure, you have a bullet point on your resume that says you are “detail-oriented,” but you just completely disproved that.
- You’re missing an opportunity to sell yourself
Whether the job ad is asking for a cover letter, references, a portfolio, a writing sample, you’re missing out if you don’t include it. When a recruiter or hiring manager can only judge you based on what you provide, why wouldn’t you want to put your best foot forward? Additional documents are the perfect opportunity to expand on your strengths, explain any weaknesses, and showcase your personality.
- You’re not customizing your application to the job
Your resume and other application documents should be tailored to every. single. job. you apply for! So if you’re not customizing your resume and cover letter to each job, you could potentially be handing the job to your competitor. Comb through the job description and tweak your resume to reflect the same verbiage used in the ad. Prioritize your skills under each position based on what is most important to this particular job.
- You don’t know exactly what the hiring manager is looking for
When I asked for a cover letter, it wasn’t because I want to torture any potential employees (I promise!). For my Marketing Specialist, I was specifically looking for someone who was detail-oriented and had great writing skills. So while cover letters may seem outdated on the surface, keep in mind that the hiring manager may be looking for more than further explanation of your skills.
So next time you go to apply for a job, be sure to thoroughly read the job description and follow all of the application steps. It may seem like a lot of work, but that’s why they say job searching is a full time job!