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4 tips for making the best first impression through your job application

City Year’s application tips

At City Year, we understand the importance of a solid first impression. When applying for jobs, filling out job applications and submitting your cover letter and resume usually mean that your first impression is made before you even get to meet future employers in person. Although this process can seem like a daunting task during your job search, there are many small steps you can take to make a big difference, transforming your first impression from a good one to a great one! Here are a few tips from the members of City Year’s Talent Acquisition team that will help you confidently craft a great cover letter, resume and application and help you put your best foot forward when trying to land that dream job.

Customize your cover letter

First, you should always include a cover letter. The cover letter gives you a unique opportunity to really get specific and show how you connect with the organization’s mission — definitely take advantage of that! The cover letter is where you can show your commitment to an organization, mission, or to the position you have applied to through a narrative of your unique experiences. Our hiring teams rely on cover letters to understand a candidate’s motivation and passion. Cover letters can also be incredibly useful for those looking to change careers because you can show your career path and connect skills that might not seem related. Your cover letter and resume shouldn’t present the exact same information; instead, they should complement each other.

Quantify your Impact

While your cover letter outlines who you are and your interest in the role, your resume is a great place to show your qualifications and skills. Look for areas on your resume where you can use data or statistics to demonstrate your success. For example, if you were a classroom teacher, how many students ended the year at grade level? If you worked in development, what was the size of your portfolio? How did annual giving participation increase? City Year is a data driven organization; we strongly believe in the power of data. Numbers demonstrate your track record and how analytical skills apply to your work.

Edit to Make an Impression

Hiring managers have limited time to review cover letters and resumes, so we recommend that you make every word count! Try to communicate the essentials and edit out any filler. If a sentence doesn’t communicate something meaningful about you, the role or the organization, you can probably remove it. Your application should present a clear story of your background and why you’re interested in the organization. One strategy is to keep a longer, more comprehensive resume for your own reference. Then, you can customize that version for each position you apply for, making sure that only the most relevant experiences and examples are included.

Before you submit…

Communication, both written and verbal, is incredibly important. Your resume and cover letter can also serve as a writing sample, so don’t forget to take a few minutes to read everything over one last time before clicking submit. Check for consistent tone, grammar and formatting.

In addition to 3,000 dedicated AmeriCorps members, City Year employs over 900 full time staff across 28 locations in the country. Currently, we have about 30 open staff roles. To learn more about careers at City Year check out our open positions and our follow us on LinkedIn.

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