Tools every job seeker needs

It takes more than relevant experience for job applicants to win over hiring managers and employers. To land the job, you’ll need to perfect your cover letter, refine your resume and impress the interviewer.

Man holds paper items necessary for applying to his next job

The process of searching for a job can be long and arduous, but with the right tools to guide you, you’ll be receiving offers in no time.

A Tailored Resume

The first tool you’ll need is an updated resume. Your resume is a marketing tool that should communicate the value you will bring to an employer.

Don’t just use the same resume for every job you apply for. Emphasize your transferable skills and relevant experience to the position you’re pursuing. Customizing your resume to include important keywords for your desired job will help you stand out and increase your chances of getting called for an interview.

In addition, the language you use can have a big impact on a hiring manager. Use action verbs and avoid cliches like “hard worker.”  

Unless you truly have a lot of professional experience, keep your resume to one page. List information in reverse chronological order, with your most recent position at the top. The formatting and design should be clean and consistent, with clearly visible contact information and a link to your website or portfolio.

A dynamic cover letter

A cover letter is often optional, but having a well-written one can sometimes mean the difference between getting an interview or simply getting your resume passed over.

As you write, show you did your research. Potential employers want to know that you didn’t just choose this job at random and that you’re familiar with their company, so be sure to explore their portfolio, blog, app or website and weave your findings into your cover letter.

A cover letter is also a great place to go into more detail about your skills and experience, but don’t just make empty claims – use specific examples and stories to demonstrate why you’re the best candidate for the job.

In the last paragraph of the letter, include a call-to-action that compels the reader to take the next step and call you for an interview.

Practiced interview etiquette

You got the interview – but the work isn’t over yet. Take some time to plan answers to common interview questions so you aren’t caught off guard. Your answers should be concise yet thorough. Prepare a few versatile stories that illustrate your competency in the skills mentioned in the job description.

Not only should you prepare your answers, but you should come with some insightful questions to ask your interviewer as well. These shouldn’t be questions that could be answered by reading the job description or found with a quick search. Instead, consider asking about challenges the company or industry faces, how your success will be measured or how you can thrive within this role. 

Whether the interview takes place in person or over Zoom, remember to dress appropriately, use positive body language, and always send a thank-you note afterward!

Firm (Yet Respectful) Negotiation Tactics

Many companies will ask candidates about a salary range during an interview. Some employers even require applicants to fill out a desired salary on their online applications. When it comes to negotiating salary, Morgan Hunter recruiter Brian Price recommends deferring as much as possible.

“While salary is important, those discussions should come after the interview, once both parties have had a chance to process the information from the interview,” said Price.

However, once you’ve been offered the job, negotiating is always recommended. In fact, most employers anticipate you negotiating and have built that into the initial offer. If an employer is unable to offer your desired salary, consider negotiating benefit costs and coverages or PTO.

While it’s critical to know your worth and seek compensation that reflects the value you bring, be sure to keep an open mind during any salary negotiation. Take a day to review the offer and propose a counteroffer. Even if you turn down the offer, stay polite and don’t risk burning bridges, as you never know when you might cross paths with the hiring manager again.

Students may contact KU’s Career Center for more information.  

For more helpful tips on advancing your career, subscribe to this blog. Learn about Customized Leadership Training and stay tuned for free Link & Learns, covering the latest in workplace communication.


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