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3 Job Application Tips That May Surprise You

Thank you notes are mandatory, not optional.

I never thought I'd end up using a resume writing service.

For the most part, I never had any difficulty in my job search. But lately, things have been a little more complicated. Given the current climate of the job market, I'm sure there are tons of capable people - such as myself - who are vying for only a few open positions.

After speaking with Kate, a close friend of mine who is an assistant hiring manager at a large financial firm, she suggested the merits of a resume writing service. She explained that people shouldn't be hesitant about paying for help with their resumes especially if they aren't landing any interviews. At that point, each day you're unemployed is a day you're losing money. Basically, a resume writing service is an investment that will pay itself off in no time.

While scrolling on my phone, I caught an ad for TopResume—the country's leading resume writing service with over 3,000 5-star reviews. The way it works is you send in your resume for a preliminary scan and are then matched with a resume expert who has experience in HR and recruiting.

Considering that I was over 3 months into my job search, I had nothing to lose, especially since I could share my resume for free. Within 2 days, I received an email from a resume expert named Emily who gave me tons of fantastic recommendations on how I could improve the structure and content of my resume.

After she pointed out all of the problems with my resume, I wondered what else I was doing wrong in the hiring process. I thought I'd stick with TopResume and see what I could improve.

Here's what I learned:

Applicant Tracking Systems

One of the most surprising facts that Emily shared with me is that 75% of job applications are rejected before they're made their way to HR. Apparently, before your resume reaches a live person, it must pass through an Applicant Tracking System. These systems act as an electronic gatekeeper for the employer by scanning your resume for specific keywords and sorting a resume's content in categories. In other words, it's weeding out unqualified candidates.

Luckily, TopResume analyzes thousands of resumes to immediately identify these mistakes. For instance, Emily said I was missing relevant keywords, using long-winded sentences instead of bullet points, lacked a clear hierarchy and - worst of all - submitted my resume in an incompatible file type. Wow…I had no idea my resume needed so much work.

Cover letters matter

Emily asked how I was handling cover letters. Usually I quickly come up with one on the spot or just not send one at all. I never viewed cover letters as important.They feel like a regurgitation of my resume and, frankly, a chore on my end. But apparently I couldn't be more wrong, Emily said I need a formal cover letter template.

A cover letter reiterates why I'm a fit for a specific job and gives my potential employer the opportunity to get to know me beyond my resume. With a cover letter, I can elaborate on specific aspects of my resume such as an employment gap or budgetary layoff. In certain cases, it can serve as a tie-breaker between two potential candidates so I should definitely put more care into it.

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Thank you notes

I'd never considered thank you notes. Turns out, a recent TopResume survey found that 68% of hiring managers and recruiters claim that thank you notes do impact the decision-making process. Emily urged me to send a proper post-interview thank you note, or I could hurt my chances of landing the job.

It's such a simple, yet important, part of the interview process and I had no idea where to begin. Emily said I shouldn't be worried and suggested sending a note within 24 hours or personalizing it with small follow-up details about the interviewer's questions. The thank you note is an exceptional way to keep the conversation going.

So, I jumped back into my job search and was blown away by the results. I went from receiving 0 interviews, to 2 to 3 interviews every single week. TopResume's fantastic advice completely differentiates me from other candidates. Not only that, I feel more confident and more in-control of my job search than ever before.

Thanks to TopResume, I'm in the final stage interview for 2 of my dream jobs, so here's hoping.

Stop stressing over your resume and hand it over to the experts. Get a professionally written resume today!

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