What Matters Most When You Apply: Six Myths Debunked

Erica Licari, Former Senior Recruiter

Article Categories: #News & Culture, #Recruiting

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To take stress out of the job search, we address six misconceptions and share tips for applying.

Job searching is daunting. Polishing your cover letter(s), perfecting your resume, and finding a professional photo for your LinkedIn is practically a full-time job in itself. Sure, college career centers and bootcamps have great resources and networks, but most job seekers are doing the majority of the legwork themselves. As a recent(ish) college grad who now sits on the other side of the job search, I want to debunk some of the myths that I had heard coming into my first job search. If you’re applying to a small or medium-sized agency like Viget, you can confidently disregard these myths and, hopefully, have a more successful job search.

#1: Job Applications Go Straight Into the Ether

Most applications go through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) or into an HR specific-email. It’s easy to think that because you’re not submitting your resume directly to a person that your application just disappears into an abyss of other resumes. While a company might get a massive volume of candidates at once (we receive anywhere from 5 to 40 applicants a week here), they do go somewhere. I spend most of my day in our ATS, so I’m always in the know about our candidates pipeline, whether they’re first applying or updating me about their availability for in-person interviews. Even if an application doesn’t come directly into a recruiter’s inbox, you should feel confident that it does, in fact, get reviewed. 

#2: Does Anyone Read These???

A tip I heard once was to “hide words from the job description in white text behind your resume, so the bots let you through.” Hiding “javascript” and “team-player” in your resume will not help you at Viget — there is no automated filtering system. We aim to make our recruiting process as personal and human as possible, so while we’re excited about machine learning and AI, we don’t have our computers reviewing you. I read every bullet point on every resume (usually at least 4 times). My goal in reviewing resumes is to discern if your overall experience, background, and interests match what we’re looking for. I’m not just looking for a short list of keywords.

#3: I Should Put EVERYTHING On My Resume

It’s easy to think if you leave anything off your resume, the person reading it might not fully appreciate your experience, and won’t hire you. Instead, you put everything you can think of on your resume, and suddenly even though you have less than a year of professional experience, your resume is 5 pages long. I know, it happened to me. As I tried to distill down my courses, my internships, and the part-time job I held through college, I thought there was no way a recruiter would get me. Yet, every resource I looked at said one page resumes were ideal. So, I curated and edited until I got it to a single page. Now that I’m on the other side of reviewing resumes, I get it. I know that even the lengthiest resume won’t tell me everything you actually did, give me a full insight into your work ethic, and let me know exactly who you are. In fact, I’ll read your full 5, 10, even 15 page resume. But I’ll be probably be even more impressed if you can trim your experience down to one page.

#4: Recruiters Love Buzzwords

The internet loves to make fun of words like “synergy” and “bleeding edge” because nobody really knows what they mean. I’m included in that population. Clarity is key in writing resumes and cover letters. If you worked on group projects in most of your classes, definitely let us know, but don’t let us know you “cultivated and ideated synergy.” One tip is to imagine a recruiter asking for an example of anything listed on your resume or cover letter. If you'd struggle to provide a quick, specific anecdote to illustrate the claim, you should take it out. And if you can provide the anecdote, it might be best to list that specific accomplishment rather than the vague, trendy words about it.

#5: I Should Only Talk About Myself

This is a tough one to balance in the job search. Your job search is about you, your interests, and your needs. But keep in mind that every new hire will impact a company’s work and culture. From the beginning of an evaluation process, the employer will want to know – Why do you want to work here? What kind of impact do you aspire to make? When I was applying to work at Viget, as a Cleveland Cavaliers fan, I kept coming back to the work we did with ESPN for LeBron James. In your cover letter, it’s a good idea to address (even briefly) why you want to work here, so I know you’re excited about it. Everyone at Viget is passionate, and we want to find other passionate folks to join our team.

#6: Being Professional Means Being Formal

It’s important to be professional and respectful in job applications, but it’s important to let us know who you are, too. You can lose the “To Whom It May Concern,” and be personal. Let us know what makes you, you. We get to know applicants throughout our recruiting process in a variety ways. If you can bring your personality into your application, we’ll start getting to know you sooner, which is always a good thing. It means that as soon as you apply, we can start to know that you might be a good hire. It means I can get energized when I start to read your application and Slack Emily that, “We might have found the one!”

If you’re applying for your first job, or maybe a first job in the tech industry, I encourage you to disregard these 6 myths (and any other suspect advice you might hear). Be personal, authentic, and enthusiastic. Be succinct. Be meticulous — run everything by someone with a critical eye before reaching out — so you can be confident that we’re seeing you at your very best. Rest assured that we are real, live (imperfect) humans reading your resume and cover letter, and we are genuinely eager to get to know you. Good luck!

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