We’ve done some hiring here recently, and we thought we’d share some of our observations related to that experience. This is aimed at anyone applying to a job, not just those looking to work at a startup. Your goal is to stand out from a sea of nearly identical applicants; here are some tips to help you do that.
Write a cover letter specific to the job you’re applying to. Yes, it’s tedious. Yes, it’s a pain. It makes a world of difference, however. Your cover letter should indicate you have read and understood what the posting is about, and what the company does. It should draw a clear line between your qualifications and the requirements of the position. In other words, you need to make it easy to understand how your skills and experience are relevant to the position you are applying for. Connections that seem obvious to you may not be to the person reading your résumé. Don’t try to sell them on how cool their company is. It’s ok to be enthusiastic but don’t try to impress them with your enthusiasm, it can easily come off as insincere. Keep your cover letter concise; a paragraph or two is sufficient. Try to reflect the tone set in the job description or the company’s website. Anything you can do to show you would fit in to the company culture helps, and the cover letter is your best chance to do that.
To the extent you’re able, tailor your résumé to the position you are applying for. Your résumé shouldn’t be a one-size-fits all document. If you’re adding your resume to an on-line database, you’ll want it to be fairly broadly written, but you should probably edit it with your dream job in mind.
Put yourself in the hiring managers shoes. They may have a hundred resumes to go through. Do everything you can to make their job easier.
If you’re able, look for opportunities to point them to examples of or information about your work on the Internet. For some that’s easier that others. If you’re a programmer it’s your Github or Stackoverflow account. If you’re a designer point them to an online portfolio. Even marketing, sales and operations can point the reader to examples of campaigns they worked on, customers they’ve sold to, or projects they’ve been involved in. These examples show you work in the real world. You’re not just words in an electronic file.
We’ve not seen many good “objective” sections in resumes. Of course you’re trying to get a job that’s exactly like the one you’re applying to. If you can’t make the objective section important, relevant and compelling, leave it off.
We’ve tried to make it easier for applicants here at StartUpHire to stand out from the crowd with our profile system. It has certainly helped us find folks who stood out from the crowd, and we know it has helped other startups do the same. You may consider some of the items we ask about and include them in your résumé when using other sites. Your résumé is the single document everyone will want to see, so make it as good as you possibly can if you really do want that job.