If you think about it, the job search is a very selfish process. After all, the job seeker is spending all of their time talking about themselves. My experience, my skills, my goals, me, me, me. In a competitive job market where employers are staring at a mountain of resumes from applicants talking about themselves, how does someone stand out?
Job seekers, you’re in for a wake-up call: it’s not all about you. In the hiring process, employers ultimately want to find someone who can help the company, not the other way around. Applicants who understand this truth will naturally stand out amongst the unemployed masses and get more interviews.
Of course, job search documents should be about you, just not all about you. Think of it as, you and the company. Or better yet, the company and you.
The next time you’re writing to a company that you’d like to work for, keep these three tips in mind:
Get to know the company — intimately
It’s true that you might be sending application after application to dozens of companies everyday, but if you don’t do your research beforehand, your effort is completely wasted. Basic or shallow research won’t cut it. You need to really learn about the company, its employees and its spot in the marketplace. If you know the company, you’ll be better equipped to communicate what you offer in the context of the organization’s needs. It will also show throughout the hiring process.
Analyze the partnership
Once you’ve done the research, think about what your application means for the company. Think about the needs of the company, its shortcomings and strengths, along with those of their competitors in the field you’re applying. Get down to what makes this company special (or what it needs to become special). What are your strengths? How would they complement the company or department?
Write about yourself (in terms of the company)
Instead about thinking of this open position as the job you want, think of it as the gap the company needs you to fill. Keep your focus on the company as you write your resume, cover letter, or one-page proposal. Concentrate on the company’s specific needs and how you can assess them.
Joanna Riley Weidenmiller is the CEO of The One-Page Company. Prior to launching One-Page, Joanna was the CEO of Performance Advertising. Joanna earned her BA in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia and lives between Beijing, China, and San Francisco.