I know that one thing you guys wanted more of this year is internship and career-related blog post. My reader survey told me as much. And as I’ll be graduating soon (only six months left, what?!), you can for sure expect more of that kind of content to be on the blog. In the meantime, make sure to check out my “Career and internship advice” section!
However, as you may or may not know, I am currently on a second full-time internship, this time for a brand called Patience Fruit & Co. I recently told you all about what a typical day looks like for me as a marketing intern, but this week I was assigned a task that I had never done before, and I have to admit that it was super interesting!
My internship ends at the end of April, and they will be looking for a new intern to replace me for the summer. They received over 20 applications this week to fill up my position! My supervisors being super busy, they asked me to go through each application and to pick the people who I think would be most suited for the job so we can meet them for an interview. I had never been on the other side of things before, and getting this opportunity opened my eyes to the whole resume and cover letter thing. I’ve seen just about any scenario there is out there (both the good and the bad), and I thought that you guys could benefit from a few things that I’ve learned! So here are the do’s and don’ts of job searching, whether that is an internship or a post-grad position!
DO: be creative
Let’s be honest here, resume and cover letters are usually pretty boring. I mean, your resume is basically a timeline of everything you have accomplished, and your cover letter is like a sales pitch telling the employer why they should grant you an interview. And while that can be very interesting when done right, after you have read a few, it all gets a little confusing and well… boring. Eventually, all resumes and cover letters start to sound the same, even if I’m sure you all have some pretty amazing stories to tell. They all seem to blur at some point and after I’ve read 10 under an hour, I couldn’t tell who had written which cover letter and resume.
So, bottom line here? If you want to be remembered, you have to stand out. Don’t hesitate to be creative and to think outside the box. If you’re in marketing, communications or graphism, don’t hesitate to try a new, fun format! Black and white is okay, but don’t hesitate to add a little splash of color. In marketing, your creativity is important and you can definitely have that reflected in your resume. It’s time to show off your skills! Try using formats offered in Canva or buy a template on Etsy, or, if you’re feeling up for it you can even create your own using Photoshop or InDesign! If you’re pursuing a more “traditional” careers like accounting, finances or sciences, I would stick to more classic and conventional formats. Instead, make your content stand out! Did you study abroad? Put it in there! Do you have skills with specific programs that are not necessarily taught at school? Add it there! You speak more than one language! Make sure to put it on your resume! The idea here is to let your resume speak for itself. Stand out from what everyone else in your position is doing! I know that what helped me land 16 interviews for my first internship is the fact that I put my blog on mine. In marketing and communications, that was a huge bonus that put me way ahead of everyone else! If you need more resume booster ideas, I wrote an entire post about it.
Also, remember that a pretty package is nice, but an empty resume is still an empty resume, no matter how it looks. It won’t make up for the fact that there is no value to your content. So focus on content over looks!
A pretty package is nice, but an empty resume is still an empty resume, no matter how it looks. It won’t make up for the fact that there is no value to your content.
DON’T: Reinvent the wheel.
So, as much as you want your resume and cover letter to stand out, you also want to make sure that it’s still legible and easy to understand. As much as it’s fun and different to put little symbols and to reorganize the information, make sure it’s still uber clear! I saw a few resumes that looked good visually, but it was really hard to figure out where everything was. My supervisor even said, “But this doesn’t tell me anything!”. So, you can make your resume all pretty and nice looking, but it won’t matter if people can’t understand what is in it. Don’t reinvent the wheel. There are rules to crafting a resume, and that’s for a reason. Potential employers need to be able to quickly skim it and understand everything that is included in it. That’s why they work!
DO: Proofread your resume and cover letter.
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, please – prettypleasewithacherryontop – proofread your resume and cover letter before you send it!!! I can’t emphasize this enough. Not only does it not look professional – like, at all, but it also makes a really bad impression. It makes you seem as not thorough and detail-oriented. I have seen SO many resumes and cover letters with spelling or grammar mistakes in them… and they all ended up in the “rejected” pile, simple as that. I find it especially funny when people say they are detail-orientated and know the language perfectly, and yet, they can’t write properly. Clearly, you are not as much of a perfectionist and don’t know the language as perfectly as you thought if you can’t spot some silly (and might I add, basic) spelling and grammar mistakes! So use your autocorrect, people! If you need help, I wrote a whole post on revising your work!
DON’T: Start your cover letter with “My name is…”.
Okay, so I know it sounds like a no-brainer. Surely no one would start a cover letter by telling people who they are? But I legit saw a cover letter (from a first-year student) that started this way, and I just face-palmed SO HARD. No, I am not trying to be mean. But if you don’t know how to start a cover letter, ask for help! They are so many resources available not only online but also in job centers to help you master the art of the cover letter. I even wrote a blog detailing everything you should add to yours (with a free template and 3 examples taken directly from 3 cover letters that I actually sent to companies!). If I’m being completely honest, your name doesn’t really matter. If your cover letter wows your future employer, trust me, they will remember your name! A cover letter is like a sales pitch. It’s your opportunity to tell employers why they should hire you, or at least grant you an interview! Try to elaborate on things you mentioned in your resume (or add things you could include!) and, most importantly, let your personality shine!
A cover letter is like a sales pitch. It’s your opportunity to tell employers why they should hire you, or at least grant you an interview!
DO: Cease every opportunity.
If you see an offer that interests you, even if you don’t have all the required skills, apply for it! Don’t restrict yourself just because “at least two years of experience are required”. Some skills are easy to acquire, and experience can be shown off in other ways! Also, if you’re looking for a job, make sure you let everyone in your network know! You never know which one of your contact knows someone who is hiring (or who are hiring themselves).
DON’T: Be too selective.
If you’ve been looking for a while (think months or a year) and you still haven’t gotten any interviews, I’d recommend looking into WHY you’re not getting anything. And, most of the time, the answer is that you’re too selective. Let’s be honest here, no job is perfect. And if you’re hunting for the perfect job, then you’re in for a surprise. Yes, some jobs will be the perfect fit for you, but there is always a task or a part of your job that you’ll like less than the rest – it’s completely normal. Sometimes, it might be that you love the tasks that you’re doing, but the company you’re working for doesn’t meet your values… or it might be the opposite. When job hunting, we sometimes restrict ourselves to what we know and we are afraid of trying out something new. Sometimes, going off the beaten path really pays off! Try to consider every possible avenue before saying no. You never know what you may stumble upon!
DO: Make sure you meet all the requirements in the job offer before applying.
Okay, I know I just said that sometimes you should go with your heart and overlook requirements, but there’s also a limit. Before you send it your application, make sure you meet most requirements for the position you’re applying for! There are there for a reason. For instance, most applicants did not mention knowing Photoshop on their resume, and it’s a pretty important part of the job (I use it on a daily basis – and I’m a beginner). Sadly, while your employer might offer to teach you, they usually don’t always have the time to show you everything. The requirements are there for a reason. They need to you that they can give you a task and trust that you can do what’s asked of you without having to supervise your every move.
DON’T: Apply to just about anything that seems slightly related to your field.
You shouldn’t be too selective, but it also doesn’t mean that you should apply for every position simply because it looks slightly related to your field. We had so many applicants that were not a good fit for the position, simply because we are looking for someone with a marked interest in social media and the Web, and most applications were from students in administration who were looking forward to analyzing data (which is like less than 5% of the job). Needless to say, all of those people ended up in our rejected pile. Bottom line: requirements are there for a reason.