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Job searching? Take a cue from 'The Price is Right'

By Kaitlin Madden, CareerBuilder.com
Make yourself attention-getting in the job search with outstanding cover letters and an eye-catching resume.
Make yourself attention-getting in the job search with outstanding cover letters and an eye-catching resume.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Attract attention to yourself in the job search with an eye-catching cover letter and resume
  • Tweak your resume to have a bulleted list of accomplishments and career summary
  • Your cover letter should be employer-focused and tailored to the position
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(CareerBuilder) -- Your job search is a lot like "The Price is Right."

Think about it. In both cases, hundreds of people who want the same thing try to get the attention of one person (Drew Carey/ the hiring manager), in the hopes of competing for the grand prize (an RV/ a new job).

In both cases, it can be hard to get yourself noticed. So, like the people on "The Price is Right" who wear feathers and glitter and outfits made of Plinko chips, you might need to put in a little extra effort to stand out from the crowd in your job search.

Fortunately, though, you won't need to dress up in a cheesy t-shirt and jump around on national television to do it. According to a recent survey by CareerBuilder, simply taking a few extra steps in your job search process can make all the difference when it comes to catching the eye of a hiring manager.

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"While the job market has begun to move in the right direction, competition continues to remain high for open positions and job seekers need to stay on their toes," says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder.

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"Employers not only expect thank- you notes, but cover letters as well. Approximately one-third of hiring managers say a lack of cover letter will likely result in them not considering a candidate for their open position."

In addition to sending cover letters and thank-you notes, recruiters say there are also small tweaks you can make to your résumé ÿ■ÿ■ÿ■to help it stand out. The following catches their eye most:

•Bulleted list of accomplishments (51 percent)

•Career summary at the top (40 percent)

•Relevant keywords (39 percent)

•Résumé that is customized to the open position (36 percent)

Want further insurance that you'll get noticed during your job search? Here's how to tailor your résumé, cover letter and thank-you note so that you'll jump out from the competition:

Cover letter

Your cover letter is the first impression you give to a potential employer. This is where you convince human resources they need you. Remember these three things when creating a cover letter:

•It should expand on, not just reiterate, the most relevant skills and experiences from your résumé.

•It should be employer focused. While it's important to state why you are interested in the position, your cover letter should demonstrate how you can help the company by working there, not how landing the job will advance your career goals.

•Do some research on the company before you write your cover letter. Then, incorporate that research by telling the employer how your experience supports the company's mission statement or a new business initiative.

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Résumé

Your résumé can be a little trickier, because it might not only be a human eye that you're trying to catch. Companies both large and small are using keyword-search software in their hiring processes these days, so it's important to make sure you always send out a search-ready résumé by incorporating keywords from the job description.

Also, focus on bulleting accomplishments instead of just job duties. Highlight how you saved previous companies time or money, or new ideas you had that the company implemented. The more quantifiable results you can emphasize, the better.

Finally, ditch the résumé objective in favor of a summary of your work experience. Objectives focus too much on what you hope to gain from the job, not what you can offer the company.

Thank-you note

According to the CareerBuilder survey, more than one-in-five hiring managers said they are less-likely to hire a candidate who doesn't send a thank-you note, so don't take any chances by neglecting this small but important step.

You may feel like you're being repetitive, but use the thank-you note to restate your enthusiasm about the job and your qualifications for the position. Also, be sure to cover all your bases. If you interviewed with more than one hiring manager, send a thank-you note to each person.

Last but not least, says Haefner, be professional and concise in all of your correspondences.

"One-in-five hiring managers say they spend 30 seconds or less looking at a résumé, so all your communications need to be professional and to the point," she says.

© CareerBuilder.com 2011. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority.

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