Starting out can be the toughest part of your career because you’re faced with the ultimate catch 22:
“You need relevant experience, but you haven’t had the chance to gain any real professional experience up until this point.” Tweet this Now!
Fortunately, most hiring managers understand this when hiring an intern. I recently decided to hire an intern and posted a job on indeed.com. As someone who advises on career strategy, resumes and cover letters at all levels, my expectations were pretty basic. After all, an intern has access to college career services and a plethora of online resources. However, I was surprised at what came back when the applications started rolling in.
I received a steady flow of applications – a welcome sight initially. However, after scanning the applications resumes and cover letters it became quite clear that generic applications were alive and well and hitting the “send” button was as effortless as ever, to my disappointment.
If you’re an intern (or job seeker at any level) using indeed.com to post your resume and apply for jobs, here’s my list of what you need to know about applying for jobs and attracting hiring manager interest via indeed.com.
Consider the hiring manager user experience
Getting inside the head of the hiring manager is an important piece of applying to any job but fully understanding the hiring manager experience is just as important when applying through online portals. Consider that the hiring manager will be receiving your application to their inbox and potentially viewing via laptop, mobile or tablet. Since this is the case, you want to make your information easy-to-skim and highly relevant. Anything else will cause the hiring manager to tune out.
Being relevant to the hiring manager is as simple as referencing your interest in the specific company and role (ie. “I am interested in x role at company”). Without indicating this to the hiring manager, they’ll assume you just applied on a whim as opposed to a candidate who actually wants the hiring manager’s exact job (much more appealing to a hiring manager).
Since I was hiring a social media intern, one of the key requirements for the application process was that of links to the candidates’ social networks. I was surprised how few followed this simple set of instructions. Something as simple as including the requested links would have set a candidate apart immediately as someone who had attention to detail and the ability to follow instructions (2 very important qualities for intern candidates in general).
It’s a simple piece of advice, but extremely important. Do be sure to read the job description in full before applying and follow all instructions. Failure to do this could cost you the opportunity.
Make your title relevant
Indeed.com allows job seekers to upload a basic profile and resume that will be searchable by employers. One feature available is the option to include a title. If you are only applying to one type of role, the title is a good idea. However, if you will be applying to a variety of roles and industries, I would recommend leaving the title off so you don’t set the wrong first impression. When receiving applications, I noticed that some candidates were not entirely vigilant about adapting their title to my role. These candidates did not receive consideration because it was pretty clear that they were not titled correctly (and therefore likely not interested in my role even though they hit the send button).
When in doubt, leave a title off. You’ll do no service when applying to Social Media & Digital Marketing Intern with a title like Sales Professional. Also, keep in mind this is advice specific to Indeed.com’s application process. I would not advise the same for your Linkedin headline for example. See more on how to craft the perfect Linkedin headline here. Every technology platform is different and likewise requires a unique strategy
Make your resume as relevant as possible
Think of your resume as the most attractive part of your application package. For hiring managers, the resume is equivalent to that big, beautifully wrapped Christmas gift that towers over all others under the tree. We all know you can’t wait to open that one first, right? Hiring managers think the same about the resume. They know your resume contains all the juicy details about your experience so they’ll likely scroll down to your attached resume to access before the other enclosed info that Indeed sends.
Since the hiring manager is opening your resume first, you want to be sure your resume contains as much of the required experience from the job description as possible. Try a few of these other ways to make your resume more relevant.
Take advantage of the resume summary feature
If your intern resume doesn’t yet contain as much experience as requested, there’s a simple way to make sure your resume is relevant: include a summary. Indeed.com uses its own resume format when pulling together your experience on paper. Therefore, you’ll want to be sure to use Indeed.com’s optional summary function when building your resume.
What to include in your summary
A strong intern resume summary, should indicate some level of interest in the specific field/industry/role as well as some level of qualification. Hiring managers understand that you probably aren’t yet fully qualified and are open to helping you get that first bit of experience. However, they need some indication of interest in what they have to offer. Otherwise, they risk hiring and training someone who will not be invested in flourishing in the specific opportunity available.
Why not including a summary can hurt you
If you don’t yet have all the required experience for the job and are lacking a summary to explain your relevant interest in the position, the hiring manager will be unsure as to whether or not this is even something you want to do. Hiring managers receive a ton (A TON) of irrelevant resume every day so adding a summary that contains your interest will go a long way in setting you apart from the competition.
Don’t forget to take advantage of the cover letter feature
It’s true, the cover letter has evolved and is not always required in the application process. However, a rule of thumb you’ll want to follow is that of including the cover letter when listed as “optional” in online applications. Why? Including a cover letter is important because in the off chance that your resume is not relevant, this is your second opportunity to express interest and/or qualification.
In my experience hiring an intern via Indeed.com, the cover letter was the second checkpoint. If the resume was not relevant and did not include a summary, I would skim the cover letter. If a cover letter was not included, I had no reassurance that the candidate was even interested in my role. Candidates missing a relevant resume and cover letter were not considered for the role.
What hiring managers look for in the cover letter
If the cover letter was included, I looked for a few key items with relevance being first on my list. I wanted to be sure the candidates were not just hitting the “send” button at random and really did know what they were getting themselves into. I skimmed for the following pieces of information:
- Any mention of my company or indication that they wanted to work specifically for this kind of company.
- Any mention of the relevant skills and a powerful example of their biggest win relevant to the role
- Any indication that they had taken extra time to better understand my business problem (aka the reason for the intern opening)
- Any indication that they had the solution I needed or the willingness to work on one
The bottom line
What I learned from my intern hiring experience was simple: It requires very little to stand out on your intern application via indeed.com but it does require more than just hitting “send.” Take the time to make your application relevant and the work will pay off!