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Five fail-safe tips on how to make a job application stand out

Photo by Norman Wong

I’ve spent much of the summer interviewing applicants for a variety of different jobs at FLARE, ranging from an editorial assistant to beauty editor. Resumes have flooded my inbox – some brilliant and some not so much. Here are five things I look for when deciding which candidates to meet and which to file. My list is in no particular order, it’s just what popped to mind first.

1. First impressions
I’ll make a judgment call within seconds of meeting someone, even before they’ve had a chance to say anything. It’s natural, we all do it. And it’s the same when I open a job applicant’s email. Unless you’re a close friend, it’s better to use more formal language – ie. Dear Lisa is better than Hey Lis! or the dreaded Hiya! (I get that one all the time.) Make sure your spelling is correct and specify the posting you’re applying for. I can always tell when an underqualified candidate contacts me because they’ve changed the title of the job opportunity to something better suited to their skills.

2. Address the right person
If you’re not sure who to send an application to, send it Rogers Media Publishing Human Resources and ask them to forward it to the correct editor. The worst thing to do is email to as many people as you can think of in the FLARE office. It makes you look disorganized and unprofessional.

3. Resume and cover letter
More and more candidates are bypassing cover letters in favour of a quick email introduction and traditional resume. And I see a lot of emails where it’s obvious that it’s a form message in which my name has been added via cut and paste. A great covering letter is the hook for me. It introduces you and how your skills perfectly fit the position – it’s NOT a regurgitation of your resume. I want to know that you understand the responsiblities required of the position and that you’re truly interested in Flare versus a wordy explanation of past experience.

4. Attachments
Make sure that any attachments are actually attached and complete. Links to published work and blogs are always good but avoid sending major visual files.

5. Social media
I love reading blogs and Twitter – and it’s the first place I’ll look for a potential candidate. I send out job descriptions on my Twitter page but I also check out a candidate’s blog or Twitter posts. That gives me helpful insight into writing skills and general attitude. Someone who’s constantly whining on Twitter or taking cheap shots at others on their blog would be toxic in a closely-knit editorial team.

I’ll be back again next week. In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter.