You have to get the basics right before applying for your dream job. This doesn’t just involve producing awesome CVs and cover letters to promote yourself, but also knowing and standing in for what you want. Read on for advice on how to approach these steps and how to apply for your dream job.
Know what you’re worth
Some companies will ask you to give a salary expectation in the cover letter, others will ask you somewhere within the process. Make sure you know what you can ask for. Read up on the internet (for example glassdoor.com), talk to people in similar positions and honestly evaluate your skills and education to come up with a rough estimate.
For me, my expected salary lies somewhere between 28.000 kr and 35.000 kr. I make sure to adjust my actual request to the specific position. A start-up will most likely pay me a much lower wage compared to a big corporation, so I give a lower number here. Notice that different types of jobs within one department or business field will pay differently depending on the environment: A PR Agency will most likely pay their employees less than a Consulting Agency. Make sure you’re educated enough to not be totally off with your request. The most important thing is to not get insecure. Only you know what you can actually do, so only you can put a price-tag on it. It doesn’t make sense to give an estimate below your expectations because you think otherwise the company won’t consider hiring you – you can rest assure that there will always be a candidate willing to work for less and most companies don’t base their talent search on salary only.
Not everyone has a talent for creative writing and producing a good text can be tough. This is why I always offer my friends to read through their cover letters and CVs. Getting another person’s perspective on the two most important documents to apply for your dream job can only benefit. Make sure the people are honest with you and know you well – so they can tell whether you are actually representing yourself properly or not.
I like to look at a cover letter more as a motivation letter: It’s supposed to show the company what motivates me to work for them and it’s supposed to motivate them to hire me. Make sure you mainly highlight what you’re actually good at. That doesn’t need to mean that you fulfill all requirements given by the company. If you don’t have a certain qualification, highlight another one. This will show that you are still specialized and why you might not have had the time to specialize in something else.
Another tip is to reverse your CV and cover letter. I start my cover letter by talking about my work experience, then education and finish it off with additional skills like languages or writing. I do the opposite in my CV. There I highlight my higher education first and give details on my experience later. This approach makes the CV more structured (“I have experience in this in that, because I specialized in X during my Bachelor”).
Structure is the keyword for your CV. Studies have shown that most recruiters don’t take more than 20 seconds to scan a candidate’s CV. That means that you have to make sure, that everything important stands out directly. Make sure the CV is not too text heavy, uses the space of the document and that certain things like e.g. what kind of degree you have are highlighted bold. I also like to have a small friendly picture of myself somewhere to help recruiters make a direct visual connection. When writing your CV, keep in mind, that for most positions recruiters will go through hundreds of CVs similar to yours, so if you want to land an interview you have to stay memorable.
Standing out is equally as important in your cover letter when you apply for your dream job. Assuming that most recruiters will also have a quick peek at this document, you should try to have something unique. I’m a big fan of storytelling in general – and believe that it can only benefit applications as well. It can be as simple as replacing the headline “Application as Marketing Manager” with “Why I should be your new Marketing Ninja” or it could be more complex by following a red treed throughout the whole letter. It’s great if you can manage to get some humor in-between the lines of this otherwise plain document. One of my best-received cover letters is somewhere along the lines of this: “To be honest, as a kid I really wanted to be like Indiana Jones. Growing up, I found my passion for strategy development to be bigger than digging in the sand all day. So I called my dog Indiana and became great at Strategic Marketing instead!” I know this takes some guts and talent in storytelling which is why I would also recommend to invest some time in creative writing. You can find a lot of helpful stuff on the internet – from Youtube to buzzfeed.
Now, apply for your dream job
I hope that this little piece of advice gives you some inspiration for your next round of applications. If you notice your frustration levels rising during the process, read my post on why applying for jobs will offend you.