Congratulations! You have found a job that fits you like a glove! What now? Everybody is able to write a standard resume, motivation letter and email. But how do you ensure that your application stands out positively with a recruiter?

Written communication is often your ‘first foot in the door’ of a recruiter and/or new employer. So the importance of this communication cannot be overestimated. In this article we will discuss how you can increase your chances of success. Good luck!

You will only get one chance to make a first impression

This is a strong cliché. And with reason! It is often difficult to find a vacancy that suits you perfectly. So if you succeed in finding one, you better maximize your chances of success. Written communication is usually the first contact with the recruiter and/or your future employer, so you can never spend too much care.

Everybody can write a resume. Or not?

Ah… a resume! The most common means to apply for a job. The obligatory section with your personal information is usually followed by your work experience, education, any other skills and a short description of your hobbies.

However… recruiters are receiving a lot of resumes. How do you ensure that your resume stands out? The following tips will help you to let your resume stand out from the competition.

  1. Honesty is the best policy!
    Be honest about your previous experiences, responsibilities and results. When hired (or worse: during the interview) you don’t want to make a poor show, right?
  2. Adjust your resume to the job description
    Of course you cannot twist the truth, but you may emphasize certain points in order to meet the needs and demands of the job description as closely as possible.
  3. Write a short objective
    Briefly describe in your resume what you’re looking for and how your strengths can help others. This personal objective of 5 to 10 lines fits perfectly underneath the section with your personal data.
  4. Break the myth of 1 or 2 pages
    As a project manager with 20 years experience it can be difficult to describe a career in 1 or 2 pages. Concentrate therefore on completeness and accuracy but stick to the point. For a starter it is advisable to keep it short and concise.
  5. Appearance also counts!
    A CV with spelling mistakes is a missed opportunity. So make sure several people read and improve your resume. And don’t forget the layout as well! Use a readable font, pleasant font size and enough whitespace. Simplicity matters!
  6. Check for completeness
    Make sure you don’t forget details. Particularly take care that your phone number and email address are clearly readable so that the recruiter is able to contact you immediately. Also don’t forget to state your availability (immediately, from …).
  7. Say cheese!
    A picture on your resume? Only add a picture when the position has specific wishes regarding your appearance (for example, in the fashion world or in sales). In other cases it will be better to only impress with the content of your resume.

A motivation letter: sense or nonsense?

A motivation letter is not always necessary, but it may help to convince a recruiter as it enables you to express your personal motives for your application. In case of doubt between two equal candidates, the best motivation letter can be the deciding factor.

Some tips for a good motivation letter:

  1. Avoid a standard motivation letter
    On the web you can find a lot of templates and examples of motivation letters. But a motivation letter is something very personal. So preferably write the letter yourself. This way you can distinguish yourself much better and fairer.
  2. Further develop the personal objective of your resume
    In the short objective in your resume you can briefly state your expectations and strengths. Don’t copy this text but go more into detail and describe how you can help your future team and employer with your skills.
  3. There is no “I” in TEAM
    A letter of application is not about you! The purpose of a letter of application is to find the best possible candidate for a job. Therefore you should describe your added value to your future employer. Mainly use the pronoun ‘we’ and avoid the first person ‘I’.
10 ½ : Take a red and a green pen. Circle the word ‘I’ in red and the word ‘we’ in green. Are you seeing more red than green circles? Adjust your motivation letter and do the exercise again.
  1. Look after the content and form!
    Again be complete, accurate and to the point. Avoid long sentences and difficult words, and make sure every sentence counts. Recruiters are daily reading dozens of letters. Help the recruiter and yourself with a short personal letter that really adds something.
  2. ‘It will be my pleasure to discuss my qualifications in an interview’
    End your letter with a sentence that invites the recruiter to contact you. Sign your letter with a handwritten signature. This adds a personal touch and can be just that little bit extra!

Often forgotten but absolutely important: the email

Nowadays resumes and motivation letters are almost never sent by post. If you cannot upload your resume and motivation letter to the website of the company you are applying with, then it is of equal importance to reflect on the email with which you are sending your application.

Some tips for a good accompanying email:

  1. A clear subject line
    Be brief and clear: Briefly mention the position you are applying for. Recruiters often work on several jobs simultaneously. So make sure your recruiter will be able to instantly scan and find your email.
  2. PDF files (almost) always work
    Add your resume and motivation letter as attachments to the email. Send your CV and motivation letter in pdf format to be fully compatible with all operating systems.
  3. Courtesy goes a long way
    Always be polite in your communications. Never address the recruiter with ‘hey’ or ‘hello’, but with ‘dear’ or ‘Mr/Mrs’. When addressing the recruiter preferably use a personal approach as well. ‘Dear Lord ’ will be a good start!
  4. Be brief, powerful, yet inviting
    Then briefly mention the position you are applying for and invite the recruiter to view the attachments. Conclude with an inviting phrase such as ‘Thanks in advance for your reply’.
  5. Don’t forget your contact details!
    Even though your contact information is mentioned in your resume and motivation letter, it is always a good idea to repeat this information in your email as well. Make the recruiter’s work easier. Each additional step the recruiter has to take to contact you will reduce your chances of success.

Social media: Do you like what we see?

Social media are more and more used as a recruiting tool. Both by applicants and recruiters. According to Stepstone almost 4 out of 10 companies are using social media to find candidates. So be aware of the fact that recruiters are increasingly checking your online profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, etc. Do you like what we see?

  1. No infringement of your privacy!
    If a recruiter decides to view your profile online then this is not a violation of your privacy. You are responsible for the content that you post online. You only have one reputation. Don’t throw it up for grabs on the internet!
  2. Check your private settings
    Check if certain parts of your online profile are protected against strangers. For example, it is not advisable to give recruiters (unintentionally) access to pictures of your parties during the weekend.
  3. Google images
    Don’t assume pictures are removed from the web after you delete them. For a while pictures can often be found back by using Google images. So take care about the pictures you are publishing of yourself, and in severe cases contact Google to help you remove the pictures from their index.
  4. Don’t add recruiters (except on LinkedIn)
    Separate your work and private life. Don’t immediately invite your recruiter on Facebook. You can make a connection on LinkedIn as this platform is mainly used for professional purposes. Just make sure your LinkedIn profile is – and will stay – complete and up to date!

Getting started!

In this article we have given some practical tips to optimize the written communication during your application process. Again, the importance of this communication can hardly be overestimated. So pay enough attention to it.

Be complete, friendly, accurate and to the point, and make sure you deserve the attention of the recruiter. The run-up to your job interview is the first natural selection in the application process. Make sure you are among the lucky ones!

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