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The secret to landing a job interview or indeed job offer

There are all these articles out there on the Internet, or even worse as actual books you have to BUY, telling you about “secret” things that apparently resume-reviewers want to see on resumes and cover letters. There are “secret” things you must remember to say, or then again, not say in interviews. Let’s not forget the “secret” things you have to mention in thank you letters.
I haven’t quite figured out why consultants write like that. Is it to turn common-sense advice on how to find a job into  a whole mystique, so that you feel you HAVE to read their stuff, or use them to help you, because YOU don’t have the secret keys to the Kingdom of Job Search. They’ve all been looking at too many Harry Potter movies.
The only secret is that there aren’t any secrets.

There are various ways to write resumes, but all of them involve clarity and conciseness. Previous blogs give advice on what recruiters want to see and the format they usually prefer e.g. this is 2013, so bullet points, please, not 1985 stream of consciousness prose. They want it on one or two pages, they want to see relevant experience, any education, skills and achievements. They want it error-free: “Slef-motivated” will not impress.

Cover letters
One page is enough and don’t have it crammed full of stuff. Try to tailor it to the specific position – your resume will probably not be THAT specific to the position, so highlight your achievements as they relate to the advertised job.

Thank you letters
Try to sound sincere (George Burns, old comedian, used to say, “Once you can fake sincerity, you’ve got it made”), that you want THAT particular job. You can do that by showing you listened during the interview to what they said the job was about and what they were looking for. Writing something that was more or less copied from the Internet shows a casual attitude that won’t get you to the next stage in the interview process. Again, I have other notes in previous blog articles about cover letters.

Unless your parents own the company, dressing inappropriately, dropping the f-bomb, not having done your homework on the position and the company, these are pretty obvious pitfalls. Although, maybe not that obvious if you think flip-flops constitute Interview Uniform.

Leaving the recruiter and company personnel feeling all warm and fuzzy about you.
Looking interested, listening to what they say, giving sensible answers that highlight your skills, education, experience and suitable personality –  those are the qualities that will get you the position, and will make the company feel that you can contribute.

See? None of that sounds secretive to me. More like common sense, actually. Next time you see an Internet article about how, magically, you can unlock the key to Job Jackpot, roll your eyes and hit delete.
I’m not saying that you should then dive to the Margaret Says So blog on the Merit website, but I shan’t be stopping you if you do.