Job-hunting: Five tips to improve your application & resume

(The following was originally written by Sara Klieger, director of the Motley Fool’s internship program)

If you’re reading this blog, odds are you’re interested in one of the awesome job openings listed here. As someone who helps our Foolish recruiters read through the resumes and cover letters we receive, I’m here to give you some tips on how to make your application stand out.

  1. Make your application error-free: The easiest way an applicant can show that his heart isn’t into the process is by submitting an application full of mistakes. Thoroughly edit your resume and cover letter, and have a friend look over it, too. When you say you’re detail-oriented, but you misspell the name of the company or the hiring manager… you’re not detail-oriented.
  2. Avoid emoticons and abbreviations used in texting. Neither of those things makes a recruiter LOL.
  3. If you haven’t created a professional email address for job-hunting purposes, now’s the time. is not resume-appropriate, but definitely is.
  4. Many people (myself included) dread writing cover letters, but they’re great for giving recruiters a sense of your personality and enthusiasm. Craft a cover letter that shows us what you know and love about the Fool (or any potential employer) and how your skills match our needs. We love cover letters that tell me how you can make the Fool better with your talents. What we don’t like to see is the “what’s in it for me?” cover letter — where you only talk about what you hope to get out of a job, but not about what you can bring to the table.
  5. And finally, hang in there. Job-hunting can be frustrating. We have low turnover at the Fool, so our technical requirements for a job can often be very high (some positions require tough editing tests, and all of them involve three-hour interviews). It’s hard not to take a rejection personally, but know that often it comes down to factors beyond your control — namely, if a more qualified candidate happens to apply to the same job at the same time. Our recruiters say one of the hardest things they have to do is turn down bright, Foolish candidates, but we keep our favorite applicants on file for the next time a similar opening comes up. You never know! So do your best to take care of what you can control. It’s easy to become bitter and jaded, but don’t let that bitterness shine through in your application. Lead with your determination, work ethic, and belief that you would be great at the job you’re applying for.

So there are my tips. They seem almost too simple, and a lot of job hunters want to know if there are any “tricks” for getting their application even more attention. Deliver it in person? Call the hiring manager daily to check in? Don’t you dare! People who tell you to do that are giving you outdated advice that can ruin your chances of getting a job offer. The truth is there’s no gimmick that beats a well-written cover letter and a clear resume. So if you’d love to be a Fool, apply to one of our openings and tell us why!

4 thoughts on “Job-hunting: Five tips to improve your application & resume

  1. That’s one problem, corporations may advertise for a job opening but neglect, I say again, neglect the bus load of past applicants (supposedly “on file).

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