Let’s face it: no one likes looking for a new job. Usually, you’re looking for one because you’re disenchanted with your current one or you don’t have a current one—not exactly zen-like states of mind. Plus, you know you’re up against unknown, unseen, huge hordes of people vying for the copywriting position you’ve got your heart set on. But there is a job out there for you and this post is all about how to shake off the negativity and take your job search to the next level…
Today’s question comes from Luz O., who asks, “Is there anything I can do to improve my job search? I feel like I’m just getting lost in the crowd.”
It’s certainly not uncommon to feel that way. Even when you’re perfectly qualified for a job, you may never get a call—simply because the company has so many resumes and cover letters to sort through. For nearly every job posted, there are tons and tons of applicants. But there’s one thing you can count on among these applicants: They’re all doing the same thing.
They’re all applying using roughly the same resume template, all writing derivatives of basically the same cover letter, all (or they should all be) sending a link to their portfolios. But let this be a clue for your job search and throughout your career: Anytime you see a group of people all do something the same way, do it differently.
Find a way to make your work application stand out. Perhaps, instead of a cover letter, you write the story of how you help a client turn around a failing campaign. Or you work with a designer and create an ad, brochure, or direct mail piece for you as a copywriter. Or you make your resume into a mini portfolio with examples of your best work. It doesn’t even take all that much to stand out! Just put your creative mind to use.
That said, though, creativity and standing out without incorporating tactic number two could end up creating a real dud. For example, I once read about someone that wanted to get in for an interview and decided to be creative. He/She packaged up a single shoe in a big box and mailed it to the hiring manager with a note that said, “I just wanted to get my foot in the door!”
While, at first blush, that may seem creative and fun, take a moment to think about it. What does it convey about the applicant except that he/she is a little wacky? There’s no information at all about why this person would be qualified for the job! On top of that, what is this hiring manager supposed to do with the shoe except throw it out? This is why tactic number two is so important: Offer a benefit.
Make sure that your application makes very clear the benefit to the company of hiring you. If possible, too, add extra benefit for the hiring manager—send along an article you found interesting, include an idea for an ad, or send the name of a book you found particularly inspiring. (Note, though that there’s a limit to the kind of benefits you should send. A $20 Starbucks gift card certainly does benefit the recipient, but it’s also pretty easy to construe it as a bribe. That won’t help, and is more likely to hinder, getting your foot in the door.)
If you really want a job, applying for that job is worth your time, attention, and creativity. Your first impression via your application can make or break your interaction with the company. Stand out from the crowd and offer benefit to the company and you’ve already put yourself head and shoulders above the competition.
Your turn! What have you done to stand out or add benefit when you’ve applied to jobs? Let us know in the comments below!