We’ve all been there: Staring at a blank screen, watching the text cursor fade in and out of existence, wondering what the first step to creating a memorable resume might be. It’s hard to market yourself – it’s even harder when you’re at an age where you’re still figuring out who that self might even be. Some great first steps would be making an appointment with our office to go over the basics and to cover some tips for making yourself stand out but I’m about to reveal some secrets on how you can work your way through the system when it comes to applying through mass job boards or online job directories. Think of this as a cheat code for getting a little closer to your career.

Know the Role and Choose Your Words Wisely

One of the worst things you can do as an applicant is ignore the job description. It’s important to read the description with a keen eye regardless of how redundant or familiar it might seem. The more you pay attention to how the job is described or what skills are outlined in the position, the more you can cater your resume and cover letter. Think of it this way: If a recruiter has written this description and has taken the time to identify specific skills for applicants to possess, it means they’re looking for applicants who are able to show these skills and reference them in their application.

Tell it Like it Is

On that same note, if a position makes mention of a specific skill (e.g. Photoshop), then you should definitely have that skill explicitly mentioned on your resume. Here’s a quick secret: For positions where there may be hundreds or thousands of applicants, recruiters will use a database to collect your application. These databases will flag resumes that include certain words or phrases that align with the original job description. If you ignore the job description and fail to mention any of the specific skills a position has outlined, you risk having your resume ignored or buried in the database. Use this information wisely!

Clarity Matters

Think about the position you’re applying to. If the job you’re going for is something artistic or graphic design-based, your employer may be looking for some artistic flair on your resume. If you’re looking to go into a technical job or something less in the creative field, you may want to avoid anything that’s overly stylish. Regardless of what you’re going for, please know when too much is too much. All resumes should be legible, easy to digest, and structured in some way that conveys your experience and skills. Believe me, I know it’s easy to get caught up in having a Resume that stands out – especially in competitive arts fields – but something that’s clear will go further than something that’s convoluted.

Still feeling unsure about where your application is going? Send a follow-up to the employer and check in on the status of your application. If you’re really confident in what you’ve submitted you should feel confident in reminding a recruiter to revisit your materials! But remember that application processes can take upwards of a month or two so be sure to time your follow-up wisely.

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