By Katie Smith
By Comstock

Tired of not getting the job? Make sure you’re doing these things.

Have you submitted dozens of resumes to internship and job postings with minimal or no response? You may be doing something wrong. Use these five tips to ensure you are giving yourself the best chance of success.

• Customize your written materials.

Are you sending the same cover letter to every job? Think about your application from the employer’s perspective. If you haven’t taken the time to include the name of the company, the position and brief references to what you will be doing in the role to which you are applying, you will not stand out as knowledgeable about the opportunity.

Every one of your resumes and cover letters should be unique and specific to the job, highlighting the most relevant experiences that you’ve had. By focusing and catering your content, you demonstrate that you are knowledgeable about the company, understand the job description and position responsibilities and have similar experiences that qualify you for the position. It’s quality over quantity that matters in your applications; if you take the time to customize each resume and cover letter, you will yield a considerably higher response rate than sending generalized documents.

• Properly market your most valuable experiences and skills.

Are you a leader in a campus organization? Have you studied abroad? Have you completed an internship?

Students frequently overlook the significance of these positions, thinking that paid work trumps other experience when writing a resume. If you are interested in a marketing internship but have never held a marketing-specific position, for example, identify marketing-related tasks that you have completed in other roles. For instance, perhaps you designed flyers to help promote an event, or talked to customers to sell dinner specials as part of your waitressing job. Emphasize these skills and experiences on your resume and cover letter.

The same technique can be applied to any position you are considering. Read the description and identify your related experiences. Volunteer work, campus involvement and activities, class projects, coursework, jobs and internships can all add value if you connect these experiences with the position’s responsibilities.

• Network before applying.

While simply cold calling job postings can occasionally lead to opportunities, having an advocate to connect you and vouch for your skills and character tends to lead to greater success.

Brainstorm the people in your network: faculty members, classmates, family, friends, supervisors. Do any of them work in the industry in which you are interested? If not, it is likely that they know someone who does. Be vocal about your goals and keep all of these people updated on your search as you identify companies and positions of interest. Your network may know unposted opportunities, ways to navigate a company’s system and connections to help with the process.

• Focus your search.

Students who are unsure of the type of position that they are looking for may be intimidated and overwhelmed by the number of opportunities and postings that they come across.

While it is OK to be uncertain, choose specific fields of interest and geographical locations to help narrow your search. This will help you identify fitting opportunities and will allow you to invest more time in networking and producing tailored application materials that fit your areas of focus. If you find limited opportunities in your chosen areas, consider expanding your criteria.

• Be realistic when setting goals.

Think back to your college application process. Remember reach schools and safety schools? The same mentality should be used for jobs and internships. If you have a dream company or position, apply for those opportunities and network, reaching out to current employees to emphasize and reiterate your interest. However, be careful not to depend entirely on these opportunities. Always have an alternative plan.

Even if you do not fit every qualification listed on a job description, consider applying for a position that interests you anyway. As long as you fit most qualifications and demonstrate a genuine interest within your application materials, you will often be considered, especially if you utilize your network, too. On the other hand, don’t count out positions that may seem below your ideal position. If you are hired and prove to be a valued employee, you will likely find opportunities for advancement.

Katie Smith is a career services professional at Elon University in North Carolina. Katie has an MS in higher education administration from the University of Rochester and enjoys reading, writing, sports and travel. Connect with Katie on LinkedIn, Twitter, or learn more from her website.

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