There's a really easy way to make sure you never attract attention as a job seeker.

For most of us, it's a bit of a cop out and we come up with every excuse in the book. However, in talking to college grads recently who are searching for the perfect job, one common mistake pops up over and over again. And it's such an obvious fallacy.

From what I've seen, job applicants tend to do mass mailings. They use one resume for every job, and they have a form cover letter they tweak here and there.

Yet, the best way to apply for any job is to customize--even though it does take way more time. Every cover letter should read like it was written specifically for that job, right down to naming the company, a few things you like about the job description, the location, some recent milestones you've noticed, and even a few little trivia tidbits.

What's so surprising is that people don't bother customizing, even when they know it's a better approach. And, even if they customize the cover letter they stick with a bland resume.

Yet, when you're doing a job search, remember that the job description needs to match up with your own skills and interests. It's not a crapshoot. The more you feel like you are a match for the job, and have the right qualifications, and really prefer the location and the company itself, the more the hiring manager will also notice that you're an ideal fit as well. You'll rarely get a job that isn't a good match, either for you or for the person who will pay your salary.

So, it makes sense to whittle down your list and really analyze the job and make sure it matches perfectly. After you do that, it's much easier to customize your entire application. It's a job you really want, so why not spend the time to prove that with materials that really show why you're a match? It's better to customize more and shoot into a barrel less.

The reason we don't do that is simple.

We like quick fixes.

We think job searches are basically like shooting a potato gun into the air and hoping the potato lands perfectly on a target. We don't want to take the time necessary, and we're playing the odds. Yet, employers can spot a bland and generic cover letter and resume from a mile away. And, they dismiss it out of hand.

To stand out, dig a bit deeper.

Look at recent company news. Check into what the department does for the job you're thinking about. Find out which variety of plants are in the front atrium if you have to--demonstrate that you really want this job and you put the research into what they do and why you are even applying in the first place. Could this take you an hour for every ideal job? Yes. Is that what it takes to find a job these days in a tough market? Yes.

Now, the next step after this is also really interesting.

When I first started writing back in 2001, I used the "over research and pitch like crazy" approach. I'd do my homework on every potential writing assignment, then repeat dozens and dozens of times. Perseverance is the key here. Customize your cover letter and resume, and then move onto the next one, then repeat.

Here's my challenge to you. Take this lesson in digging much deeper and customizing, then follow that process at least 100 times (yes, 100) in one month. If you follow that practice, and you find that it works, drop me a note so we can celebrate together about your new job.

Published on: Jul 30, 2018
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