How to Apply for a Job

I spent this evening drilling through hundreds of resumes for the many of open positions that we have at Bronto Software. As CEO, I like to be on the front lines of hiring because bringing great people into the company is one of the most important things that I can do — Always Be Recruiting, they say.

Unfortunately, reviewing resumes is an exhausting process. Like most hiring managers, I make very quick decisions on how to sort resumes into different piles. I use the buckets not interesting, less interesting, and interesting. Many applicants would greatly improve their chances of getting resume pushed into a better pile with some simple tips that anyone can follow. So, here you go:

  1. Limit your resume to 1 page.
    I have heard every reason in the book why applicants can’t do this — too senior, too technical, not computer scannable enough. I believe that applicants make this mistake of making their resume too long time and time again because applicants fundamentally don’t understand the purpose of a resume and initial inquiry — whet the hiring managers appetite to initiate an interview rather than provide a full biography. The longer you make your resume, the higher chance that you’ll dilute the focus on your most relevant experiences. Plus, putting together a brief resume demonstrates that the you can keep their thoughts and ideas focused. What business doesn’t need more focus!
  2. Drop the Aspirations / Philosophy section of the resume.
    Unfortunately, applicants often start their resumes with these sections. I recommend leaving them off and getting right into experience or education. (BTW, if you are a recent graduate, you might start with the education section since it is probably more impressive than your work experience.) Save the aspirations for the cover letter / email.
  3. PDF your resume.
    This is a minor point, but you might find it better to send your resume as a PDF versus in Word format. The formatting of the resume is better maintained in a PDF document. Also, with sending Word documents, there is a risk of including random revision comments. I just reviewed a resume with this issue and it made the applicant come across a little less professional. Not a big deal, but something to consider.
  4. Use cover emails versus cover attachments.
    As a hiring manager, I find it must easier to read short, personalized notes in the email itself. Attaching a cover letter document is unnecessary. As always, personalize your message. It is prime opportunity to separate yourself from the crowd.
  5. Apply directly through the company’s website.
    Have you ever received an applicant’s email from Monster or one these other job boards? For the most part, they are horribly formatted and difficult to read and scan. Also, it is obvious to the hiring manager that you just clicked a button and presto an email was sent off. To show true interest, always go to the website and apply through there. Or, do both. Basically, I post positions on Monster and treat the postings as advertisements that will hopefully drive the good applicants to apply through the website. And, the good applicants usually do.

Of course, having relevant experience and enthusiasm for the position and company are always essential pieces to getting hired. Also, the tips above are not comprehensive. There are many aspects to improving your lot in the hiring process. But, hopefully, the tips are helpful in ensuring that the hiring manager sorts your resume into the right pile in their 30-second analysis (if that) of your qualifications.

Good luck!

7 thoughts on “How to Apply for a Job

  1. Great point about Job Boards. I would say the best way to get attention is get referred! Use your network and contacts to find your dream job! BTW–Best to all of you at Bronto…

  2. GD

    What do you do if the job post doesn’t list the company, like this one I found this morning?
    Director of Marketing
    Company: Confidential
    Industry: Software
    Location: Durham, NC
    Contact Information
    Company: Confidential
    Hmmm… ;~)
    Great advice.

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