I have been involved with numerous job searches, both as a candidate and while serving on committees. Whether you are looking for a part-time job, a job in your current industry or thinking about changing careers, you have to figure out a way to differentiate yourself. Nearly every job that is available will be a difficult up-hill battle to secure. The odds are sometimes stacked against you because there is so much competition, but there are some things that you can do to help you increase your odds slightly and give you a better chance. Obviously, not all bosses, hiring committees or jobs are alike, but there are some general rules that applicants should follow if they want to give themselves a fighting chance to get an interview.
- Read the job posting and do what it says. If it says “no calls”, then don’t call. If it says “postal mail” or “email only”, then adhere to these requests. If you have to fill out an institutional job application to be considered (normally a requisite at state schools), then do it.
- Personalize your cover letter. Don’t just send a general cover letter. It doesn’t need to be lengthy. You should get right to the point as to why you should be considered. Make it appear that this is the one job you want and have written the letter specifically for this job. A few key bullet points splitting up your introduction and conclusion might catch someone’s eye as well.
- Be organized, attractive and grammatically correct in your presentation. Mistakes or sloppiness is almost always a recipe to have your materials set aside. Color is not necessarily a bad thing as long as it is not overdone. Putting your stuff in a binder or folder is unnecessary as it normally requires extra work to make copies for other committee members and is not easily stacked.
- Don’t chase unicorns. If you are a middle school coach or never coached in college, then don’t apply for a college job. You are not going to have a chance. This doesn’t mean to avoid any job which you are a long-shot. Being an underdog is different than having no chance at all.
- Don’t wait. It doesn’t matter when the deadline is, get your materials in ASAP. Many places begin to interview before the deadline. Usually, this means that applicants that are out of luck.
- Know what the school or person in charge of the hiring is looking for. Sometimes, it takes a little internet research or keeping your ears open. If you have a clue to what is important to them, then accentuate your positives that will match these qualities.
- If you have some top-notch reference letters, then send them with your materials. This is especially helpful if they are heavy hitters, in terms of name recognition. If you list a very important person as a reference, it may be difficult to get in touch with them in the time frame that is necessary, which is why a letter may be helpful.
Jamy Bechler is a former college basketball coach and championship high school athletic director. He is also a John Maxwell Certified Leadership Speaker and Coach. Contact him at CoachBechler@CoachBechler.com to find out how you or your team can be more successful.