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December 5, 2009
Lost at Sea? You Can Still Land The Interview.

Thanks for all of the encouraging words after my last post. I'll have you all know that I'm progressing through my Quarter Life Crisis nicely. I'm networking like crazy and meeting a lot of really great, inspiring people. Most importantly, I'm feeling less...on my own. In talking more with people my age, I'm realizing I'm not the only one feeling lost at sea, so-to-say. I'm also realizing that HR departments have got to be sick of the overflow of mundane applicants. Therefore, I've honed in on making cover letter, my resume, and my brand - Pop! The good news is that this has me more motivated than ever. My new, more alive, self is even shining at work! I've even taken on the new task of editing/maintaining my company's website (meaning I get to learn more in-depth HTML!). Call me a nerd, but I'm like a sponge; I get so excited to learn something new.

I've started throwing all I have into everything I do (regardless of the individual tasks lackluster) in the most unstoppable way hoping that, even for a second, someone catches the glimmer in my eye and gives this girl a shot! The bad news is...well...I don't think there is any bad news. Most applicants aren't doing this. I'm finding that they are copy and pasting cover letters, not researching the companies they are truly interested in and, thus, not putting their best foot forward. Why? If this is you, let me share the wealth: Here are two main things I've found have really been working to score an interview.

Numero Uno) Writing an engaging cover letter.

This part should be common sense, but if you're not researching the company and at least letting an ounce of that research show in your cover letter, you're just another email to them. Employers are being so picky, and rightfully so. Why wouldn't they be with so many options? Stand out. Be bold. Don't be afraid to let your personality shine. Don't be afraid to let them know that you've Google stalked them to an unhealthy degree (of course not in those words, but you know what I mean). Showing that you’ve researched the company lets them know you're interested. Let them know the nitty gritty about brand you and why you'd be a perfect fit for the job (which, by now, you should know due to the aforementioned Google stalking). Don't simply copy and paste with name and position substitutions and don’t regurgitate things they can read, verbatim, on your resume. That's exhaustingly boring. The marketing and advertising world is chock-full of creatives. And if your cover letter's boring, you're boring.

B) Having an amazing resume that supplements your cover letter and keeps them wanting more.

An HR employee recently told me she takes approximately 10-12 seconds (seconds!) to scan a resume. You must ensure that you grab their attention and leave them wanting to learn more because, as we all know, there are tons of job seekers fighting for the same position. To make my brand stand out I've incorporated a small, passport sized, picture to the top left hand corner directly across from my name. How very European, I know! But even so, my intentions are to give them a face, a person, not just a paper with mundane facts. Even if they don't remember my name, I'm still happy to get a call back because, "...You know... the resume with the girl's picture..." was remembered.

By now 10-12 seconds is probably up. Hopefully, with your cover letter screaming, "Don't stop here!" and your eye-catching resume, you have made the reader want to actually meet you. Mission accomplished. The interview, however, is up to you. Follow through on your cover letter's statements. Live up to the track record you've laid out on your resume. Ask questions. Be the full package. Market brand you. And, at the least, tell a memorable story. After all, no one's going to tell your story for you...And everyone lost at sea has a story, right?

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Natalie Czajkowski is currently a marketing coordinator for a philanthropic advisory firm. With six years of experience consulting small to mid-capped business on executing marketing strategies, she’s progressing into her quarter-life crisis slowly but surely. On her path toward world domination, she enjoys writing, traveling, the dog beach, and Cubs games. She’s in the process of blogging her QLC. More details to come.

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