Back in 2016, as I graduated from college, I didn’t have to look for jobs. A cousin of mine, who had just kickstarted an eCommerce startup, took me in.
All I needed to do was submit my CV.
So I sat down, Googled some ready-made templates, and filled in the data accordingly. It served the purpose for the time being.
But later on, as I decided to branch out and assess my position in the real world, things didn’t go as I had hoped.
Fast forward to 2022. Now, I stand on the other side of the job market.
Having to routinely collab with individual creators and freelancers, a good portion of my time goes to reviewing all kinds of resumes and applications.
Now, I see how naive I was.
And guess what!
It’s not just my incredibly amateur younger self. About 90% of applicants I deal with also make the same mistakes regardless of their experiences and skill level.
No. I’m not trashing these applicants personally. They are probably pretty sweet. I could call them up for my bi-weekly Friday house parties. I could even go to the zoo with them.
But hell no, I won’t work with them.
I won’t hire them because their resumes are so fundamentally skewed that I could mow my lawn with them (if I had a yard).
It doesn’t make any sense. Especially considering how easy it is to level up your resume. All you have to do is…
Know What You Are Hunting For
If you follow a standard template downloaded from the internet, your chances of standing out are pretty low.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not really about the template.
It’s more about the mindset.
Just ask yourself. Why do we use a template? Because it’s easy. Right? That there is the problem. People will do it easy rather than right.
That’s not how you improve your resume & cover letter. Here’s what you need to know.
When you don’t know any better, you make a single standard resume, load it up with everything you have done so far, and use it on all different applications aiming at drastically different jobs.
The problem with this scattergun approach is that when you are looking to hire an accountant, you won’t care about the applicant’s juggling prowess.
The applicants are better off using the space for something more relevant.
That’s why it’s a far better idea to operate as a sniper.
➊ Find your target: Instead of randomly applying for every job conceivable, try to figure out fewer jobs that you really want to land.
➋ Set your aim: Now, all you have to do is tailor custom resumes for each job type and more relevant data accordingly.
➌ Fire: It might not sound much, but with different versions of your resumes at your disposal, it’s pretty easy to attach the right CV to the wrong application (and make a fool of yourself).
So yeah. Don’t do that.
Do Your Research Beforehand
Now, there would be a problem when you filter out data according to the jobs. Your resumes will lose content.
And you might not have enough relevant material to fill them back up.
Let me tell you this: it is a blessing in disguise.
You are going to fill in the empty spaces. But it will require some work from you. And the fact that not many candidates won’t put the same amount of thought and effort into it will bump you up ahead in the line.
Here’s what you do. You do your homework. Learn what your employers are out to shop for. Study the job position well. Then do their job for them. Ask yourself whether you are a good option or not and why.
Lead With Value
“I need the job because I have to pay my bills. Here are the things I am good at. Now, give me the job.” That’s the fundamental mindset of an average applicant.
I have seen this over the years, over and over again. It’s always about how THEY could benefit from it, how it would further THEIR goals, and why it’s good for THEM.
As if they are hiring me to help with their portfolio and their financial needs. I know it’s not intentional. But it’s annoying nonetheless.
When you pitch yourself for a job or a gig, it’s not about your needs and aspirations. No one cares about that.
It’s all about what you bring to the table — what you can do for your employers.
It’s not just what I would advise you to improve your resume & cover letter, but it is basically what even I build my pitch around.
So you can make the best use of those empty spaces to put together a rudimentary pitch. Something like adding a section titled “5 reasons why I’m perfect for the role.”
The goal is to make it easier for the other guy to hire you.
Then you can sprinkle in your personal motivations and aspirations.
Don’t Claim What You Can’t Prove
If I make you sit and go through the resumes I’ve received in the past few months alone, you will see that every one of them:
✔ are good team players
✔ has leadership qualities
✔ are hard workers
✔ can come up with original ideas
✔ and most importantly, are quick learners.
The only problem is that most of these are just fluffy buzzwords. Even worse, these are self-attested claims.
Only a few applicants can substantiate any of these with verifiable professional feats or sufficient work experience. And the rest of them are just trying to bullsh*t their way up the ladder.
Newsflash! It doesn’t work. If anything, it’s a major turn-off. It’s much more practical to mention the things you are good at and provide evidence of how you are good at them. The results have to be measurable.
What if you don’t have any substantial professional achievements? Just don’t pretend as if you do. You are not fooling anyone.
Instead, highlight why you can be a valuable fresh recruit despite not having much prior experience. Trust me! It’s a much better option.
For the Love of God, Fix All the Typos, Grammar, & Spelling Mistakes
No. A couple of errors won’t ruin your chances.
But when you fashion your resume with too many of these glorious pieces of happy accidents, it runs the risk of turning into a paper plane crashing into the imaginary lava pit of a trash can.
One of the easiest ways to prevent that is to use a free test-to-speech tool while you proofread your resume.
It makes it easier and speeds up the process. Furthermore, helps you catch missing words or repeated phrases throughout the paper those your eyes alone couldn’t have managed to detect.
In conclusion, getting your CV right is only the way to get your foot in the door.
The other part of the story begins when you get the call. When you get it, which you will, here’s something that might be helpful.