How important is it to strike a balance between showing off personality, skills, and relevant experience with a cover letter?
Should people portray themselves differently with a resume/cover letter when they’re applying at a startup vs. applying at a corporation or larger, more established corporation, or is it better to be safer and more traditional than sorry?
Here’s my answer:
I literally just saw this from a YCOM Partner, Justin Kan, who tweeted / shared this post recently. I think his answers are good places to start and then I have a few comments below:
- Keep it short. At the early stage, your resume is probably being read by someone who doesn’t read resumes as their full time job. Help them save time by limiting what you write down.
- Keep it concise. Contrary to getting hired a big company, startups aren’t looking for the alphabet soup of every programming language and framework. We know you can’t possibly have mastery in all of them; no one can. Instead, you should focus on the things you do excellently, and demonstrate why you do them excellently.
- Keep it relevant. If you worked in retail, leave that off, unless you are applying to some sort of retail software startup. Honestly, I just don’t care, it looks like filler.
He also shares, at the end, how to tailor these things:
I know all these rules don’t apply to hiring at big companies. You should tailor your resume to the positions you are applying for.
… I think Justin Kan just answered your question!
But, if I were to add anything else it would be this:
- Your relationships will create the real open doors… so be in the business of relationship building at all times.
- The more confident you are about the things you do the more attractive you become. Obviously you have to be pretty good at those things, but that’ll be self-evident.
- Related to #2… your ability to communicate your value can oftentimes open more doors than raw talent and skill since those things can be hard to identify or qualify. Communication, therefore, is something that needs to be practiced just as much as your craft.