We’ve all seen them: The job posting that grabs your attention and you cannot get it out of your mind because it is your dream job. Be it working for a cause you adore, as part of a celebrity nonprofit whose founder you admire, on a fantastic product team, or with an artist who you are a huge fan of, the dream job does not have to be merely a dream. Before zipping off your resume, take a deep breath and follow some of these tips to ensure that you showcase your killer talents and skills in the best light. Drumroll, please:
- Look at the job description very closely. If it is truly a match, pass go, collect $200, and apply immediately! If not, think before you apply. I have done searches for a celebrity-related organizations, rock star status money managers, and arts organizations that receive literally hundreds of unsolicited resumes each week because people are so excited to work there, but for the most part they are not a match in terms of experience fit. Sending a resume to a job that you are not qualified for will not get the results you want. Wait for a job that fits your skills, as the competition for these “sexy” positions will be fierce.
- Research the role and the company or organization. Go beyond their website. Who do they partner with? Are they on social media? Do they do a signature event? Check out similar organizations as well. If it is a non-profit, look at Guidestar. If it is a for-profit, check out their annual report. See what press is available about them so that when you craft the cover letter, and hopefully when you have an interview, you can demonstrate that you walk the walk and talk the talk.
- Write a thoughtful cover letter that highlights your skills and what makes you the ideal candidate. In the cover letter, do not tell the designer that you love her shoes. Do not tell the movie star that you loved their latest movie. They have fans. They need an Executive Director, PR pro, Personal Assistant, or whatever role they have open. Their focus will be on the person who is best equipped to fill that need, not on the one who is most star-struck.
- If it is a mission-based organization (i.e., nonprofit or foundation), you can and should share if you are a believer in their cause and how their mission resonates with you, but be sure to temper it. Human Resources and Executive Recruiting firms will see right through if it is not sincere. I know someone who worked in the marketing area of a Major League Baseball team’s charitable foundation and she applied despite the fact that she despised baseball. She shared with me that she adored their mission and the work they did with children’s health and education and said she was willing to “put up” with the baseball to get the job working on a cause she loved. That kind of passion shines through.
- Do not use social media to announce that you are interviewing with a company or organization. It happened during a search and let’s just say that it was not viewed kindly. Organizations with celebrity and/or brand name affiliation will expect discretion.
- Most importantly, be yourself. Yes, this may be a dream job, and you are probably chomping at the bit to get it, but be real. Be you. I have seen finalists in incredibly competitive searches who meet with the top person or board hiring committee and do incredibly well by relaxing, letting their guard down, and showing their true and talented self.
Best of luck in your job search!