You’re not going to need a tight, red spandex dress or hooker boots to sell yourself on the job market, but you will need loads of persistency, an almost anal attention to detail, and the determination to keep trying.
Shiny Inside & Out
In today’s culture of shallow values based mostly on surface appearances, it’s easy to try to polish ourselves up to look all bright and shiny to potential employers when really we know we are pretty dingy workers. Your work ethic on the job makes up the core of who you are as a job candidate. Employers can look at your resume, talk to your past employers and even contact your personal references. They will most likely look up your MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter for a glimpse at who you really are. And most places also do a credit check and a criminal background check. Your surface shine isn’t going to last if you have carried a shoddy record in the workplace. Working hard at every position you hold will go far, so I would recommend starting now, even if you already have a bad history. You’ve gotta start somewhere.
Dig Up the Details
In addition to being shiny from the inside out as a worker, you really need to work on the details when job hunting. Pinpoint a job you want, then go for it. Take an advertisement and pull out the key words and put them in your cover letter. Organize your resume so traits and skills listed in the advertisement are blaring at the top. Definitely do not exaggerate skills you don’t have at all or have very little if any of. Say you did get the job—who’s the fool now? Oh, you don’t know how to even run a copier? Um, you’re fired! Yeah. Be truthful, even if it’s painful. The little details do matter.
When sending a cover letter, go the extra mile to find out who exactly it is doing the hiring. If you need to, call up the company and do some detective work. Ask. Email people. Find out and then address that cover letter to him or her. That little detail screams “attentive! persistent! professional!” as opposed to a sloppy, “Dear Um, Whoever is Hiring.”
Be Appropriate, but Reach Out
Get a sense of the company and then when emailing your resume, references, and cover letter, use the appropriate amount of casual lingo or uptight, preppy language. Drop hints that you make great treats for the break room, or refer to yourself as some of the superlatives in their “now hiring” ad. Above all, keep that email short, though, and merely let them know you’re interested, confident, and enthusiastic.
Sh*t Happens: Double Check!
Double-check everything. Make sure you’re sending the right resume to the right business. Make sure you haven’t misspelled your own freaking name. It happens! Make sure the email you sent saying “I’ve attached my resume” actually has the resume attached.
Basically, think of this: that person on the receiving end is getting gazillions of emails regarding this position, and you must make yourself stand out. Ultimately, selling yourself comes down to the perfect package of neatness in presentation, accuracy in spelling and grammar, pin-pointed details in a resume, contact information, and appropriate enthusiasm.
Cheer for Yourself! Shout Out How Good You Are.
As for putting yourself on a pedestal, obviously think before you speak. But definitely, if you feel you are qualified and willing to perform the duties listed, shout it out! Say, “I’m positive I’d be a great addition to your team!” even if you’re just applying to become a cashier. Say, “I am a cheerful, punctual, hard worker,” even if you’re just wanting to become a waitress. Little details count.
So I think that sums it up: be real and truthful, be appropriate, dig up the details, perfect your package of cover letter, resume, and email, double-check, and paint a positive picture of yourself to the person reading.