In our recent search for new devs at UrtheCast, I have grown pretty frustrated with the quality of applications we have been receiving. It’s like these people don’t even want a job. The thing is, in order to stand out, especially in San Francisco, you need to do something that gets you noticed. Just emailing an out-dated resume doesn’t do the trick. In fact, it’s a guaranteed way to get your resume thrown out before it’s even looked at.
Over the years I’ve realized that most people are just casting resumes out, focusing on quantity over quality, and hoping for a bite. The good news is, this makes it easy for others to stand out, you know, the ones who actually give a shit.
How to stand out in 5 easy steps!
1. A short, personable cover letter
A cover letter is a small window into your personality and is usually the first thing a potential employer sees when you send through an application. Typically, if I’m not sent a cover letter, I don’t even bother looking at the resume.. it’s that important.
Luckily, writing a good cover letter is dead simple. Talk about yourself, explain your passions, show your excitement to work at this amazing company, keep it around 3-4 sentences, and you’re golden. And always keep in mind that most people can smell copy+pasted cover letters a mile away so do yourself a favor and write a sincere and unique cover letter for EVERY application you send out.
2. The parable of the persistent widow
One thing I’ve learned is that you HAVE to keep your name on their minds. Without being an annoying jerk, kindly reach out when you haven’t heard back in a while. A simple “Hey there, just wanted to check on the status of my application and see if I could answer any questions for you guys. Thanks and keep up the great work!” goes a long way.
3. Link to everything
The more I can learn about a candidate the better. Don’t be afraid to include your website URL, twitter username, linkedin profile, stack overflow username, dribbble username, etc.. And, if you include your website URL, make sure it’s up to date!
4. Put some real effort into your resume
This is huge. When I pull up a resume and see a 4 page document with tiny text and a thousand lines I pretty much close the doc immediately. I suggest only putting the most relevant and important information on your resume and don’t be afraid to be brief. A little color doesn’t hurt either. The main things I look for here is relevant past experience, the right skillset and dash of creativity.
5. Research the damn company!
Before you send through an application and ESPECIALLY before you interview, research the hell out of the company and make sure you are as knowledgeable as possible. Candidates always score points when they are well informed and have some good, inquisitive questions prepared before coming into the interview.
This isn’t rocket science. Standing out is easy. Companies aren’t looking for a drone to fill a chair. They are looking for a passionate and personable member to add to their team. The key is to portray your passions and personality in every resume. After all, no one wants to hire a robot.
Do you have any tips to add? Let me know in the comments section below or send me a tweet @ericbieller. Thanks for reading!