Get quick tips here. For expert advice use the resources and services listed on
the right side of the page or visit us at the Career Centre.
On this page:
Stand Out – for the Right Reasons
Your key task in writing your applications and in interviews is to stand out from
the other candidates – do your best to be original while maintaining professionalism.
In a recent survey one employer noted: "I do not want to see a resume that
you could use to apply for every other position out there. My position is special
to me and my organization. If you want the position, then your resume should be
How do you make YOUR application or interview special? By customizing it! Explain
the fit between your skills and the employer’s needs – this match will be at least
slightly different for every job. It does not mean that you necessarily have to
write a completely new application each time – but there are key changes you should
make. This may sound like more work in the short term, but if done properly it means
you will be applying to much fewer jobs before you get hired. To target your application,
you need to master the basics of marketing:
Know the Product
You are marketing yourself. A good salesperson can quickly articulate the features
and benefits of his or her product or service. Don’t know what you’ve got to offer?
Your Skills and Your Accomplishments guides contain
tips and exercises to help you show an employer what you have to offer.
Know the Buyer and the Market
Marketing also means targeting to your audience, in this case, prospective employers.
How do you know what an employer needs? Do your research. Start with the duties
listed in the employment ad if you have one. If you are applying for unadvertised
positions, you will want to learn everything you can about the industry and the
organizations in which you are interested. For a well-targeted application, you
will need to do the following:
Occupational research: What does someone in that career or occupation
normally do? If you are replying to an advertised position, start with what is outlined
in the ad itself. Further research will reveal the skills and knowledge needed by
someone in that position, and the required education or training. For more tips,
read the guide entitled How Do I Learn More About a Career?
Company and industry research: What is the nature of the company’s
or organization’s business? What have they done? Where are they headed? Who are
their competitors? Who are their clients? What are the organization’s values? For
help getting started, read the guide entitled Company Research.
The Career Resource Library at the Career Centre is a great place to start – there
you can access career descriptions, company information, and industry files. Not
only will this research help you with writing effective applications and performing
well in interviews, but it will also help with the entire process of finding work.
Know How to Package the Product
Consider what you can do to make your package — your applications and interviews
— stand out from the rest. Highlight the key skills with accomplishments and use
industry-specific language and terms. The rest of the pages in this guide will help
you with the specifics of each component of your application.