A New Look at the Tailored Resume and Cover Letter
Hiring managers are most concerned that it’s hard to find IT pros with the skills employers need. One reason for this perceived “talent shortage” is that companies are looking for more than head-down programmers and cookie-cutter IT worker ants (see “Tech Careers 2015: Not Just a Skills Game” in this newsletter). Businesses today need IT pros with diverse skill sets and significant business savvy.
How do you develop your resume and cover letter to convey to hiring companies that you bring so much more to the table than just what’s in their job description? To articulate your ability to apply your tech skills with a business mindset, start by thinking about the company’s biggest problem, then tailor your resume and cover letter to show an employer how you can help solve that problem.
Reorg your resume
First, you must do your homework. Don’t just read the job description. Get on the company’s website and learn about its approach and business model. As you research, ask, “Why do they need someone for this job? What challenges are they facing that I can address?”
With answers in mind, turn your attention to your core resume. Ditch the dates, and put the most relevant experience first. Tailor this content to highlight not only the experience and achievements that demonstrate you have the skills, but also that you grasp why those skills are important to that business. Some candidates go so far as to submit a table that specifically matches each job description skill with the candidate’s experience and ability to strengthen the company’s weakness in that area.
Fine-tune your cover letter
Your cover letter is another opportunity to send the message that you are the candidate a business needs. Using language that is complementary rather than identical to your resume, show that you understand the potential problem and explain why you are the person with the solution. Hiring managers are busy and are constantly bombarded with numerous applications for each open position. You must be able to quickly and effectively communicate via your resume and cover letter that you are the candidate who will help the business succeed.
Need more insight? Your recruiter should be able to give you details about the hiring company that can help you understand what the employer needs beyond what’s written in the job description. Armed with an effective, tailored cover letter and resume, you’ll be well on your way to preparing for an interview.