Have you ever described yourself on your resume or in your cover letter as a “hard worker” with a “positive attitude” who is able to “learn quickly?” Let me guess—did your job application seem to disappear into the HR black hole? I can’t say I’m surprised.
Here’s why. While the prevalence of applicant tracking systems, which match up job applications with the skills listed in the job description, has grown, in the end there’s still a human doing the final screening. And humans don’t connect with a series of keywords—they connect with good stories.
In other words, don’t sell yourself short by just throwing in flat, overused words to describe your soft skills. Show them off in a more concrete way, and I guarantee you’ll have more success.
Here’s how to do it—in every aspect of your job search.
In Your Cover Letter
Think of your cover letter as the conversation you would like to have with the hiring manager, but on paper. It’s your best chance (before the interview) to really bring to life what you can do.
As you’re writing, pick two to three of the skills in the job description—say, technical prowess, a knack for taking initiative, and strong communication skills—and think of one or two stories that really highlight them:
As the technical lead for a major client, I not only executed all updates on schedule, but I also took on the responsibility to train and mentor two new employees to get them up to speed for the good of the team. Understanding that this was not a client we could afford to lose, I made sure to stay in close contact with our customer service representatives and made myself available to answer any technical questions to ensure our client felt well attended to.
In Your Resume
In the Interview
Find out how to show off In Your Resume, In the Interview, and the complete Forbes article