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The Ultimate Application Guide (part three): the job interview of your life

How to write the perfect cover letter

Let’s face it: job interviews are always tensive, even if they’re fun. However, knowing that you’re well prepared takes a big part of any tension away. It’s a good thing you have us: the last part of our Ultimate Application Guide is all about everything you need to do to land that job in your next interview.

But let’s start with a big disclaimer: we’re not really a fan of the words ‘job interview’. It’s more like a conversation and we recommend you treat it as such. Not only the hiring manager needs to find out if you’re the right fit for the role and company, so do you. Even if you want this job very badly: relax, sit back (but don’t slouch) and enjoy the talk. And if you like what you hear during the interview, here’s a few tips on how to ace it on your part:

Research is where it all begins

Yourself. The company. The job. The industry. Rocking a job interview starts with research. 

Are you switching industries to the *insert halo sound* creative industry? Get to know the industry a bit: ask questions to our recruiter Pieter about how certain companies and roles work. Don’t forget about the actual field that revolves around your role as well. That might be the publishing industry, promotion, communications, administration: there’s tons of categories within the creative industry that all work together to keep everything afloat. 

Research yourself. Wait… Yourself? Yes. What would the hiring manager want to know and what are concerns they might have after looking at your resume? Write these questions down and practice your answers. For instance: if they’re looking at your resume and see you’ve worked at several companies for two years or under, they might assume you’re a job hopper. Explain yourself in a positive way. If you find it difficult to pinpoint your strengths and improvements: ask your friends, family or previous managers about their opinion.

Research your interviewers, other employees, important company accomplishments or challenges and write them down. These say a lot about the company culture so it helps you decide if you think you’d be a good fit. Next to that, if you’re asked to sell yourself you can potentially relate your skills and experience to your interviewers’ background, challenges the company is facing and tell the hiring manager how you’d contribute to that if you’re hired.

Read the job description thoroughly and list examples of how you’ve acquired each skill that’s asked for. This works very well if you’re switching to a new role or industry specifically – but is recommended to use in any interview. Next to that, the technique you’ve used to research yourself also works with the job description. For instance: if you’re applying for a role as Streaming/Playlist Manager at a record label, they might ask you to list how you create playlists, how you maintain relationships with stakeholders and so on. Ask yourself what the job entails and what they might want to know about that. What might help: underline what seems to be important to the employer in the job description. Then think of examples to show how you’ve acquired those skills. If you’re applying for a more senior role, the hiring manager might want to learn more about your strategic and leadership skills. Think of examples where you added value on a strategic level or where you excelled showing your leadership skills.

Before you go in

Okay, you’re all set up. Just a quick checklist to see if you’re bringing everything with you to the interview before you walk out that door:

  • Your resume and cover letter. Digitise (be kind to the environment) or print these to bring along. Highlight skills and examples in your resume or cover letter so you can easily refer to them and the interviewer can find them within a single glance. 
  • A notebook. Writing down talking points can not only help you look professional, it also gives you insights on pros and cons of the job and company so you can decide if this is the right fit for you after the interview. 
  • Your best outfit. Maybe you’ve already taken some notes when you were doing research, but make sure your outfit matches the company you’re applying to. What do employees wear? Adapt accordingly. 

Look at your research, resume and cover letter just moments before the interview. This puts you in a more heightened state and makes you energetically ready for the interview. Ready, set, go!

Body language

Alright, you’re here. Interview day. During the interview, there’s a few things to keep in mind – starting with body language. Looking out the window, glancing at your feet, sitting like a shrimp: they’re all not great impressions you’re giving the hiring manager. Sit actively, make eye contact and smile whenever it feels right (you don’t want to look like you’ve slept with a hanger in your mouth). Are you more introverted? Don’t worry! You can still make it look like you’re excited about this by actively engaging in your own way. People feel positive energy.

Be honest about your wants and needs

This might be the best advice we can give you. If you play picture perfect and in the end neither you or the company you’re working for are happy, we’re unhappy too. Being honest and authentic always leads to the best long term results. As an intermediary we’re trying to find the right person for the role instead of convincing you how amazing our client is. So, we’re always honest about the role, salary, company culture, hours and more. To find the right match and to make you happy it’s important you’re honest as well. Tell us what you want your day to look like, if you want to work from home, your dream manager’s personality, anything. It’s important for the hiring manager to know what you’re looking for and to speak their mind on what they are in turn looking for.

If it doesn’t turn out to be the right match, no worries: with your permission we’ll have your data on file so we can get back in touch if we do find a match. And yes, we actually do get back in touch if we are consulted for something that might suit you.

Take a moment to answer

You might be nervous, but remember this is a conversation. You’re allowed to think before you speak. Try this as a technique: answer in summary first – then expand. This gives you an extra few seconds to think about what you’d like to say in detail. For instance: if the hiring manager asks you to give an example on how you cope with setbacks, summarize the question, then answer shortly, then expand. Do try to only use this for difficult questions so you avoid sounding too rehearsed.

Multiple examples

If asked for examples, name more than one. It vows well for you if you can really show the hiring manager with multiple examples that you’ve really got that asked for skill down. On that note, always show, don’t tell. Firstly, make sure your selling point is clear. Then give a few real life examples that confirm your selling point.

It’s all about the ‘why’

A job interview isn’t just about selling yourself. If you’re really looking to land this job or are excited to work at the company you’re applying to, this should be amazing to you too. You get to talk to the people working a really cool job at your dream company. Enjoy the conversation, show your interest and especially: excitement. Tell them what excites you about this role and the company. What skills would you like to learn in this next step in your career? What do you think would be your favorite part of working in this role? What are you eager to learn from working at this company?

When crickets turn to the stage

If you don’t know how to do something or answer a question correctly: connect it to something you do know. Tell the interviewer honestly that you haven’t been through that exact experience, but tell them a similar thing you’ve done that proves you’d be good at it. It might be obvious but never lie. It puts you and your future employer in a bad position when you get asked to do it.

Always ask questions

Yes, you’ve made it! This is the end of your interview, and the interviewer asks if you have any questions. And you do. You always do. It isn’t a good look if you don’t have any questions ready. Examples you can use:

  1. What do my day-to-day activities look like?
  2. What are opportunities for personal development within this company?
  3. What departments and stakeholders will I be working with?
  4. What are the next steps in the hiring process?

Ending statement

Did you enjoy the interview and do you see yourself working at this company? Then before you go: tell them you’re interested in the position and company and explain briefly why you’d be a great fit based on what you learned today. If you express your excitement, the hiring manager might be more interested in sending you an offer than someone who’s just as qualified but didn’t show as much enthusiasm.

Send a ’thank you’

The aftermath of the interview is almost just as important as the preparation and the actual interview. Shortly after (24 – 48 hours) send the interviewers an email thanking them for their time and quickly review what you talked about. Is there something you forgot to tell? This is your moment to take away some last doubts and show your interest one last time.

That’s it! After reading all three parts of our Ultimate Application Guide, we think you’re ready to go get that dream job of yours. Stay tuned if you’re hungry for more, soon we’ll be picking 10 of the most difficult questions in interviews and show you how you can answer them perfectly. We’ll even address the infamous “Tell me about yourself” question. ‘Till next time!

The Ultimate Application Guide (part two): rock your cover letter

How to write the perfect cover letter

The first part of our Ultimate Application Guide tells you all about creating the perfect resume for the creative industry. Now that you’ve got that down, let’s take a look at your cover letter. Here’s some good news to start off right: you don’t have to be a Pulitzer prize winner to make this work. With our tips and tricks in the second part of our Application Guide, you’ll have it ready to be ‘shipped’ in no time. Read along, won’t you?

Press play on our playlist

Before you start putting pen (or keyboard) to paper, how about some music, huh? Research shows people perform better and work faster when they’re listening to music. That’s why we’ve created a Spotify playlist with amazing Tunes To Rock Your Business. Press play and let’s go.

Research and adapt

Always start from scratch. It might be an obvious note, but recycling older cover letters isn’t a great first impression. It’s ok to use certain information from previous letters you’ve written, but always do your research about the company to find out what tone to use to fit the company culture and write a new letter with that information at hand. Include your research in the actual text as well. Show that you know what challenges the company faces or accomplishments they’ve achieved and tell the hiring manager how you’d contribute to that in your role or share a similar situation from your past experience. Show that you know how to add value to both this role and company instead of just expressing your desire to work here, or what your past experience is.

Contact the recruiter or hiring manager

Got any questions? It vows well for you if you ask something smart to the recruiter or hiring manager before sending your cover letter. Get in touch with them. You’ll have personal contact, so they already have a feeling about you that might help you stay top of mind. Next to that, you can refer to your conversation at the start of your letter by saying that you spoke to this person and thank them for their input. Don’t forget to address the letter to their name as well. It’s very personal and shows you’re well connected – that’s incredibly important in the creative industry’s small world. You can mention people you know at the company as well. Keep in mind that these need to be people you’re well connected with, so it doesn’t backfire if they don’t remember you or find it odd to be included in your letter.

However, if you know 10-15 people at the hiring company, we don’t need a list of all these names. Stop showing off! 😉

Start off strong

Yes, there is such a thing as an opening line for recruiters. Starting off with a surprising first line sets you apart. Since recruiters are reading a lot of cover letters in a day, not starting with your name, where you’re from and what job you’re applying for is the greatest gift you can give a recruiter on that day. Instead, start by saying what you’d like to contribute to the company you’re applying to in your new role and why this is exciting to you. Make sure it’s relevant though! Don’t start with describing your love for cats if you’re not applying for a role at a cat shelter.

Focus on the future

We don’t need a red light / green light debacle, this one’s easy: listing your job history as your cover letter is a big no-no. We can read your previous jobs, tasks and derived skills in your resume. What we do want to see is what experience and skillset make you the ideal candidate for the job you’re applying for. However, keep the letter focused on the future. Explain why this is the next role you’re looking for and what skills you’ve obtained that can be taken with you to be used in the new role.

For instance: if you’re applying for a coordinating role, tell us how you’ve perfected the appropriate skills for this role in your job as a Project Manager and why you’re now looking for an administrative role. Or if you’re switching from another industry to the music / creative industry: let us know how your skills and past experience equipped you for a role in the creative industry and why you’re looking to move into this new industry.

Explain why you want this job

Seems to be an open door, but it’s often neglected. Describe your passion for the role next to why you’d be a good fit. We’d love to know your favorite tasks in the new job, what you love about these tasks, if you have hobbies that coincide with the job you’re applying for and if you have an affinity with the company. So, if in line with the job description or creative industry: it could be noteworthy that you volunteer at festivals every summer.

Keywords and choice of words

Choosing your words carefully is always a good thing. Have you thought about using keywords in your cover letter? Not only are there certain ‘power words’ that create a positive impression, but a little psychology might also go a long way.

How? Use keywords used by the company in the job description or by people in the creative industry. This creates an (unconscious) likeability factor and a sense of understanding.

TL,DR (too long, didn’t read)

Keep it under one page. As stated before, be nice to your recruiter and pamper them with an easy-to-read and compact letter that’s up to one page or less.

Follow up

Send an e-mail if you haven’t heard anything in a while. Don’t be too forward, give the hiring team some time to read all the applications and get back to you. Give it up to a week or two, and then kindly state you just want to check in and see if they have any questions.

This is also a great way to send in a super short cover letter if there wasn’t any way of sending that in (maybe due to the company working with an online form). Don’t wait too long for that, send it out the day after you’ve sent your resume. State that you’re double-checking if your resume was received and shortly speak of your enthusiasm for the role or company. Next, list some of your research and how you can help the company with certain matters they’re facing if you were to be hired in the role.

And there you have it. The King of Cover Letters told us you’re ready to send yours in after using these tips and tricks. (Yes, we’re in contact with the cover letter King – we have him on speed dial). He also told us you really need to check out the third part of our Application Guide, that’s all about the job interview of your life. Be seeing you.

The Ultimate Application Guide (part one): create the perfect resume for the creative industry

Seem Bakker with a guitar

As recruiters we’re always looking for that needle in a haystack who fits the job description and company culture. How can you become that one-of-a-kind haystack needle for your next job? That’s what we’re about to teach you in The Ultimate Application Guide. Listen (or rather: read) closely.

Our Application Guide is a three-step ‘manual’ to help you navigate through the application process a little easier. We’ll firstly dive into how to set up a proper resume and what recruiters might be looking for when reading. Secondly, we’ll address how to write the ideal cover letter and lastly how to rock your interview. Ready? Let’s get started!

The first step in our Application Guide: rocking your resume

You’ve found the job you want. When you start applying for it, the first step is to take a look at your resume. We’ve already given you some tips and tricks on how to rock a great C.V. before, but let’s look at the newest learnings.

The shorter, the better

You’ve probably heard this before. Hiring managers and recruiters read lots of resumes so they don’t need the entire Harry Potter saga on their desk (or in their mailbox). Design a way to structure the information you want to list so it fits one or two pages and list your most important daily tasks. This way you’re showing how you can add value to your future employers’ operations, so make sure the most relevant information is easily found. Are you a finance professional who wants to work at a music company? Then it IS relevant that you love to produce music in your spare time, or that you were a volunteer at a festival. 

Get creative with tools

Handing over a one pager as a resume in .doc is a little 1990. Don’t you agree? Today, there’s tons of creative tools you can use to stand out from the crowd. Take a look at their possibilities and find one that works for you

Canva

Canva offers many ready-to-use templates for you to design. Simply click whichever one you’d like to start with (infographic, presentation, cover image and of course: a resume) and edit the design to your liking. Canva requires no creative knowledge or skill: they’ve done a lot of work for you

Adobe Creative Cloud Express (Previously Spark)

Today’s world is all about the experience. What if you could make your resume one? Adobe CCE makes it happen. Adobe lets you present your resume in presentation form, including video’s and animations to create an interactive experience.

Pixlr

Pixlr is a picture editing program and very easy to use. If you’re creating a text based two-pager, Pixlr makes it easy for you to elevate this to a more visually strong resume.

Creating a resume for the creative industry

Want to really kick it up a notch? Think about the company and role you’re applying for. What can you do that fits one or both? If you’re applying at a radio station: create your resume as if it’s an album. Make an album cover, list your experience as songs, maybe even create a podcast with your cover letter and so on. Show the hiring committee that you really want this role.

Next to that, if you’re looking to work in the creative industry it’s a big plus to show off your own creative side (whether that’s in creative writing, design or (concept) thinking). It’s up to you to show how well you fit the industry.

A little disclaimer*

*Do keep in mind that your resume needs to be able to be uploaded as a text file, not as an image. Recruiters often end up filling in all entry fields by hand. So, if you really looking to make an impression: make sure your resume is visually top notch as well as ATF friendly.

Tailor your resume

One size fits all doesn’t apply to job search. Rearrange the listed skills of each previous job to focus on skills that are important for the role you’re applying for. Highlight some experiences that help show your expertise in a certain field. Changing your C.V. to fit the job description is something we all do (and is highly recommended!). It makes it easier for recruiters or a hiring team to scan your resume and find out if you fit the role.

Include your social media profiles: yes or no?

Take another look at your social profiles if you include them in your resume. Do they fit the company culture? Are your posts appropriate? What image do the posts project of you? If you can’t check these boxes, reconsider including them in your C.V..

Sending out your resume

How you send out your resume is just as important as creating the perfect C.V.. Sometimes, when there’s a tool in which you are asked to upload your resume and cover letter, there’s no other option. But, let’s think outside the box for a moment. That’s not really true is it? There is always another option.

MailChimp

When you know lots of other applicants are going to fill in the standard forms or send out a ‘regular’ e-mail, why not step up? Create and e-mail with tools like MailChimp to stand out. A big upside: you can check your e-mail after sending and see if it’s been opened, how many times and if the receipients click on any buttons. This could be interesting data to further perfect your applying process.

Old school

We don’t think you should send over a carrier pigeon. However, in a digital world it could be noteworthy to send over something the recruiter or manager can actually touch. It will definitely be remembered. Maybe an envelope with a QR code to your online resume. Get creative!

What do you say? Are you ready to send out your resume? We think you are. Thumbs up, and stay tuned for the second part of our Application Guide that’s all about writing the perfect cover letter.

Applying for a job in music: rock your resume in 7 steps


Are you planning on applying for a job in music, media or entertainment soon? Get ready to read some of our finest tips and tricks from The Music Recruiters founder and recruiter Pieter for rocking your resume.
  1. Structure and length. Recruiters and hiring managers see lots of resumes daily. A structured resume with rubrics about your education, experience, charity work (if you have any) and specific music related skills / experience makes reviewing your resume a lot easier. Remember to list your most recent experience at the top and describe your responsibilities (and results) within each role. For junior to medior candidates, a one pager should be enough. Are you senior or above? Keep it up to two pages max.

General rule of thumb: ask yourself what information you’d like to see on a resume if you had to judge the resume in a matter of minutes for the role you’re applying for. 

  1. Adapt your resume for each new role you’re applying to. Do you think you’re a good fit for the role you’re applying to? Make sure the person reading your resume has the same idea from just a glance at your resume. Revise and adapt your resume a little in order to make that happen. For instance: are you applying for a role where budget management and finance play a big role and you’ve had experience with this in your role as – let’s say – a Project Manager? Make sure your resume states that clearly and prioritize this over other skills you’ve acquired in the same role that might be less important for the one you’re applying to now.
  1. Design your resume. Next to the actual content in your resume, don’t forget to create a flawless design as well. This applies to how you present yourself as a professional as well. Your motivation and experience / education is of course always leading, but a resume that’s been ‘groomed’ properly and shows your personality as a professional really does the trick. Are you planning on applying at a big corporation where bots might be scanning your resume first? Make sure your resume is suited for an applicant tracking system.
  1. Portfolio? Are you applying for a creative or conceptual role? Don’t forget to create an (online) portfolio with examples of your work. Recruiters are always keen on seeing what you can do and if that fits the job description and required level of skill. Tip: a big zip file or download link to a filesharing page is kind of a big pig in a poke. Make sure your portfolio is easily accessible as a PDF or web page.
  1. Professional picture. Recruiters as a group still haven’t entirely made up their mind on whether a picture should be featured on your resume or not. So, there really isn’t a ‘right’ answer here. Go with your gut, but if you do decide on adding a picture, make sure it’s respectable. We understand that you love to go to festivals as a big music fan, but a picture holding five beers with a slightly toasted forehead might not be the first impression you want to make with your possible future employer, right?
  1. Musical experience required? Are you not yet employed in the world of music, but you’d love to be because you want to work with your passion? We get that. In fact, a lot of people working in music have achieved just that. It’s important to realize that every single one of these people contribute to a (commercial) industry with each their own talents and skill set. Professional experience and talent are therefore always a priority, so make sure you’re able to get across what you can contribute to the company you’re applying to with your personal traits and expertise in areas you’ve worked in.
  1. LinkedIn. LinkedIn has been playing, and continues to play, a big role as social medium for connecting employees to employers and for them to view your mutual connections and online presence. Are you on LinkedIn? Make sure to add your profile link to your resume and review if the information on your profile is up-to-date (and matches your resume!).

Don’t forget to read our Ultimate Application Guide to find our more about how to land that dream job.

Would you like to stay in the know? Follow us on Instagram (@themusicrecruiters), Facebook and/or LinkedIn.