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The art of self-marketing

Let your résumé and cover letter promote your skills as well as your personality. With a personal and customized job application you are one step further to your dream job.

To get you that important interview, the common procedure is to send in a résumé and cover letter, which form the basis of your job application. Creating an application that plants a seed of curiosity and grab the attention of the recruiter is of utmost importance. A good résumé shows your qualifications and skills. It should match the post you are applying for, and therefore only include relevant previous experience. Your cover letter is your chance to tell the employer why you are the right person for the job; what you can bring to the company.

“No matter the business or the job, you have to be able to communicate what your skills are. Central to this is promoting yourself in a way that catches the eye of the employer. If you don’t feel comfortable in ‘selling’ yourself, try to find an approach that you are comfortable with,” says Christel Lindgren, head of career services at Naturvetarna, The Swedish Association of Professional Scientists.

Do not hesitate to give your application a personal touch. Remember that your cover letter needs to stand out among perhaps hundreds of other letters. Make sure you are content and can stand behind your application.

“Many professional scientists are incredibly strong in their analytical abilities and problem solving skills. Also, they rarely have issues communicating their expert competence. However, conveying their personal strengths tend to be more challenging,” says Christel Lindgren.

When adding personal information, make sure to think it through one step further and reflect on what you wish to communicate. Including a hobby of yours in the right context allows you to show certain qualities that can be important for the job. For example, competing in sports tells the recruiter that you have a competitive spirit, drive and goal orientation. Also, remember to be personal – not private.

Bear in mind that the context of recruitment is a subjective process that you need to relate to. You can never know who the person is that you are addressing and what qualities appeal to him or her at the end of the day. Easier said than done, the key is to identify the part about your experience and expertise that can create an added value. If the recruiter is a professional scientist or engineer, it is likely that he or she will look for a person within the same sphere. But the employer may still want to find someone who can fill the gap and contribute with other qualifications. Create a sense of curiosity, but without revealing too much about yourself before an interview.

Research the company or organization carefully and find out what their slogans, visions and core values are. Describe yourself, your competence and your experiences based on what the needs, ambitions and value-system of the employer are. Take the time to customize your application for each job. It should always match up with the position you are applying for. Also, don’t forget to make use of the various social media such as LinkedIn and Twitter, which can help you network and promote yourself in your job application process.

5 do’s and don’ts in your application

  • Don’t include any unnecessary information. The employer/recruiter has about 30 seconds to read your application and form an image of you.
  • Avoid stating a salary claim in your application. Write that the salary can be discussed later instead. This will strengthen your negotiation position and increase your possibilities of securing a higher salary.
  • Send the application as a PDF when applying by e-mail; that way you know that the recipient won’t have any problems when opening the file.
  • Design the résumé with a layout that allows the reader to quickly find your best qualifications. The more important a qualification is, the higher it should be placed in the résumé. And always start with your most recent job or education.
  • The cover letter should preferably be no longer than half a page, while your résumé should consist of approximately two pages.