Every job application is a balancing act. The cover letter and résumépresent data and personality. To be successful, you must convey essential information and give a sense of why you stand out from other applicants. These elements must be kept in tension. If a job application is lopsided, it will not be successful. If your CV is too heavily weighted with data, it will bore hiring managers. If you treat your application packet as a creative writing experiment, potential employers will not take you seriously. Most résumés we see lean too heavily on information and need to be animated with some individuality. Here are three ways you can bring your application to life:
1. Customize your cover letter. If you use regurgitated clichés in your cover letter, the hiring manager will tune you out before they even get to your résumé. It takes work to thoughtfully craft a message for each position. That work shows and leads to call-backs.
2. Consider your layout. If you are using the default résumé template in Microsoft Word, your application will look identical to hundreds of others. Spend a little time finding a quality template or even consider hiring a designer to layout your CV. The goal is not to draw attention to the design, but the content. A good design enables the reader to navigate the key information with ease.
3. Feature achievements, not just responsibilities. Your résumé should not merely list job duties, but show how you performed those duties. Use specific metrics to show how you contributed through the success of your organization. “Communicated with potential donors” relates information. “Increased first-time donors by 15% through targeted appeals” tells a story.