But for those of us searching for a job, this situation makes getting the job we have been wanting very difficult. Not so many years ago, college graduates were sought out for employment opportunities. Now, it is the college graduate who is going to sometimes extreme measures to find a job that will hire them. Many times, these graduates are getting jobs that are more entry-level than they would have anticipated.
The resume itself is important in giving a clean, polished, well organized impression of yourself. Formatting, spacing, spelling, and grammar are all important aspects. If you are trying to get a job where you communicate with anyone (externally or internally within the company) you are going to be expected to be able to do so clearly. The resume should also be tailored to the specific job you are applying for. You never want to put too much on a resume, it just clutters up the information about you. You want to highlight the training, education, or experience that will qualify you for the job. These should be quickly read by the person you are sending the resume to because they are sorting through sometimes hundreds of other people's resumes.
Along with sending a resume, it is a very good idea to include a cover letter. Most jobs post their open positions online, therefore they are able to give very specific instructions to job applicants. This is the singularly most important thing to follow. If you can't follow the directions for applying for the job, they will assume you won't follow directions on the job. If they state they do not want a cover letter-don't. If they don't mention it at all, I would still include it.
For your cover letter, this is the time you get to "plead" your case for why you are a great applicant and also show your enthusiasm about the company and the specific position. It is possible that if your cover letter is too plain Jane or overbearing they will never even look at the resume itself. You want to avoid accusatory language-this means talking to the reader by using "you". This is business writing 101. Even once you have a job, language where you are calling out the reader is considered bad tact. Obviously there might be a reason to occasionally use you/your language, but there should also be some I/me language too.
In my cover letters, I always make sure to state the company I am applying with and the specific position within the body. I also throw in my most relevant experience/education and why it has prepared me for the job I am seeking. It is also nice to end the letter with something such as "I thank you in advance for your consideration and hope to have the opportunity to interview with "insert company"."
After sending out resumes, sometimes dozens, hopefully you will get at least a few responses about interviewing for a position. My motto-never turn down an interview. Not only does this give you practice talking to someone (or group of someones) that you are unfamiliar with, but you never know what unannounced opportunity might be available if they see potential in you from the interview.
The interview is important-it is your first impression on the company and can not be undone. You will want to make sure you dress professionally. It is better to be slightly over-dressed than under-dressed. Obviously there are a few exceptions to this...if you are going to a farm, you won't want to be wearing your best clothes! A few mistakes women will make is wearing too much perfume (men too with cologne) and wearing too much makeup. When I was a teen, my impression was that the more noticeable the make-up, the more people would realize how much time I devote to my appearance, and same with the scents-the more the better. In the business world, it is nice to have a barely noticeable scent, or none at all! With make-up, adults are supposed to have natural looking features, so try to go with that thought.
Make sure you shake hands firmly once introduced to the person/people you are talking to. Once talking with the person interviewing you, make sure you don't leave them to do all the talking. You won't want to dominate the conversation unless they are leading you to answer question or talk about your experience. The best rule of thumb is to make the interview a polite back and forth conversation. You don't want to talk too much, but you need to market yourself and your personality in a relatively short amount of time. You also want to make sure that you are making eye contact (equally among a group if there is more than one person), and please-no gum or candy. I would even discourage water, coffee, or other beverages unless they are offered to you once there.
Thanking the interviewer/interviewers is a way to not only thank them for their time, but reiterate your interest in their company and remind them of who you are. The more prompt you are in this, the more respect they will have. A hand-written thank you in this day and age really shows the above and beyond effort to do something personal and slightly more time consuming. If the company seems to really lean toward computer communication, it would be acceptable to email your thanks. The biggest etiquette to remember with thank-you is to be sincere and concise.
Patience is the next step with all of this, and for me the most difficult. You do not want to continue trying to make communication with the people because they already have a job to perform with the hiring process being an additional thing on their plate. What I did with my interview was send a hand written note in the mail the next day, then I waited to about 2 1/2 weeks after the interview to send an additional thank-you e-mail. The e-mail stated I was still interested in the company, prompted the question about whether the position had been filled, and if there was any thing additional they wanted from me in their consideration. After this communication, I feel it is rude to try and make contact a third time unless they prompt it first.
Good luck, and remember-be confident in yourself but humble at the same time!