MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for:What are three things you look for in a resume? is written by Donna Wiederkehr, CMO of Dentsu Aegis Network.
When applying for a job, particularly if you’re just starting out after graduation or changing careers, your resume and cover letter are often the only tools you have to tell your story. When combined, your resume and cover letter should clearly explain to a recruiter who you are as a professional, why you are passionate about the company you’re applying to and the unique talents you can bring to the table. If you can communicate these those things in an efficient (and better yet, interesting) way, you’re already standing out from the pack. So with that in mind, here are three things I look for in every resumes that lands on my desk:
Today’s business environment is changing so rapidly that someone fresh out of college could be equally qualified to solve business challenges as a manager with 15 years of experience. Think about (and research) what successes the company has had recently. How did they inspire you to want to work for them, and how will your skills help them to continue to be successful? What challenges are they facing in the industry and how can your insights make the company stronger? Use your cover letter and resume to show that you not only understand their business, but you have the right ideas and problem solving skills to enhance their team.
State your ambitions
Recruiters and hiring managers are not career advisors. You would be surprised by how many emails and letters I get from prospective candidates that read, “I just graduated with a degree in X. You seem like an interesting company and I am wondering if you have any openings that might suit my experience?” It’s not my job to guess where you will succeed, that’s your responsibility. Your ambitions should be clear to anyone looking at your application. Hiring teams get a huge volume of resumes and don’t have a lot of time to carefully read every detail of each one. You need to prioritize your goals and outline them from the get-go. You can then use your cover letter to tell a story that supports your objectives.
Speak the language
Every industry has its own specialized terms and phrases. If you’re serious about breaking into an industry, take the time to study these terms and be aware of when they are applicable. I’m always impressed when a candidate works hard to incorporate industry appropriate language into their cover letter and resume. When done correctly, it shows me you’re knowledgeable about how our business operates and you’re tuned into the things I will value the most.
Read all answers to the MPW Insider question: What are three things you look for in a resume?
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