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How to Get an Interview Where You Want to Work

By: Brian Harris
| May 20, 2021 |

Each week I generally receive a couple of inquiries from people seeking to work at Dogwood. Some are genuinely interested in working here, others are just sending out resumes in bulk. 

I thought I’d take some time to share some of the things I’ve started to notice and look for when receiving a resume. Each of these helps me to determine if I would consider the resume for further consideration. 

Introduction

I’ve received resumes where there was a subject line that said resume and an attachment. Truthfully, I’m almost afraid to open the attachment because the person didn’t even take the time to tell me what they were looking for or sending. 

The ones that get noticed are the ones that take the time to include a personal note. It doesn’t take much time to look at our website to gain my name and what we do. 

  • Sell yourself! 
  • Tell me why you are sending me a resume. 
  • Point out any common connections. It takes 2 seconds to look someone up on social media.
  • Tell me what you have attached. 
  • Tell me how to contact you best. 

If you send me something personal like that – I will respond. I can’t say that everyone will do the same, but a personal introduction goes a long way. 

Resume

Make sure to include your resume. You don’t have to be an expert in what we do but do your best to show relevant experience. 

For me personally – degrees aren’t required. Aptitude and attitude are more important. 

That said, if you want to work managing social media but never took the initiative to even volunteer in that role, you’re probably just looking for a cool job (which we are). 

To be clear – if you are in college now, marketing, public relations, advertising, communications, you can work at a fast-food restaurant and still be involved in an on-campus organization learning skills that would make you qualified. Don’t just go to college and think your degree is automatically going to open doors. 

To be clear – even if you aren’t in college or never go to college, there are organizations that will gladly accept your help. Your church, the humane shelter, whatever floats your boat. Just take initiative in whatever life has dealt you and don’t do the minimum. Exceed expectations.

On your resume, clearly show these experiences, especially if your work experience doesn’t support the role you want to be in. 

Cover Letter

Your cover letter is different from the less formal email introduction that you sent earlier. Many candidates don’t include these but I will say I have found the ones that do provide clarity I was needing when looking for qualified candidates. 

Use the cover letter to clarify your resume. It gives you the opportunity to shine light in between the lines of your resume that may seem blurry. Be concise. It’s not a memoir of your life up to that moment. Get it down to a 1-minute read that can be scanned quickly by a very busy person.

Your cover letter also gives me the opportunity to hear your written voice. Use a professional tone in your cover letter so that I can know you can speak on behalf of a business. It also demonstrates the ability to know how to shift your voice based on whom you are writing for. 

Typos

In this age of technology, there is no excuse for typos. As I write this now my Google Docs is suggesting corrections. My Grammarly app is suggesting grammar changes. Even after that two other people will view this article and make corrections and suggestions before it sees the light of day.

While your introduction, resume, and cover letter aren’t blog posts like this – they are all very important. Find someone you trust to view them before you send them out. While perfection is not the goal – at least make the effort to be close.  

Follow Up

I had a person email their resume to me. I thanked them and told them I would keep it on file for future openings (which I did). A short time later the same person emailed me as if they had never emailed before. Reintroduced themselves, never acknowledged that we had corresponded before. I was pretty quick to deduce that they had no clue that they had already messaged me. 

The best ones that I remember have been the ones that I have told I would keep their resume on file and their question has been this – “Is there any advice you can give me on how to get a role like this? I know this is what I want to do and would love your honest feedback.”

This does a couple of things. It forces the person to officially blow you off – I wouldn’t do that – or to actually read your resume. Most good leaders that you would actually be interested in working for will take the opportunity to spend 10 minutes providing mentorship. This opens the door to further conversations. You’ve changed the direction in so many ways. 

All this to say – don’t take rejection personally. Many times there just isn’t an opportunity yet with that company. Look at any and all interactions as opportunities to develop a new connection. You never know where it will lead. 

And for the love of all this is right and holy – use spell check.

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