Your guide to applying for a job in 150 characters or fewer
Let the brevity of social media serve as a model in writing your own character reference. (September 19, 2013)
The days of lengthy cover letters and bulleted resumes are fading as employers ask job applicants to present their case in a modern and challenging way -- by describing themselves and why they are a perfect fit for a job in 150 characters or less.
Borrowing from the style of Twitter (which maxes out at 140 characters) and similar to a quick-and-to-the-point elevator pitch, this new request forces you to carefully select words and summarize your most important skills.
Not sure how to condense your experience into 150 characters? Use these four tips to pull it off:
1. Break your 150-character "about me" into three parts.
Describe yourself with a title based on your most recent work experience (Social Media Connoisseur, IT Project Manager, etc.). If you just graduated from college, use "Recent Grad" and add additional flair by indicating what type of position you're looking for. Perhaps add a word or two about what specialization you're interested in pursuing. Or mention your area of study and the type of degree you earned.
Next, showcase your personality and wit with a unique line about what makes you stand out or why you love the work you do. Get creative here and add a few words about interesting hobbies or passions. It's important to make yourself stand out in a well-rounded and unforgettable way.
Tie it all together at the end with a final line about why you're a perfect fit for the company and the position.
2. Remember, every word counts.
Choose strong verbs and carefully select powerful and eye-catching adjectives. Always look for shorter synonyms for longer words, and take out filler words that don't need to be in the sentence.
Avoid the abbreviations or online slang often used when writing for social media, but do keep contractions. They're more conversational -- and they're shorter!
3. Quadruple-check your grammar, punctuation and spelling.
One of the main reasons employers incorporate this new request into job applications is to measure your written communication skills alongside how well you're able to brand yourself and showcase your personality.
Though space is limited, the rules of grammar, punctuation and spelling definitely still apply. Read your 150-character "about me" out loud to make sure it flows and to verify correct punctuation.
4. Write without thinking about the 150 character limit, then revise and cut.
The best way to pull apart your resume and cut it down to 150 characters is to write a quick bio about yourself. Once the words are on paper, then you can begin to cut it down.
Make a list of important points, accomplishments and skills that you mentioned throughout your resume and cover letter. Next, cross out words and phrases that you deem unimportant and substitute long words with shorter synonyms.
(Jen Glantz is a contributor to Brazen Careerist. She is a New York City writer who is the brains and beauty behind the website http://www.thethingsilearnedfrom.com. Brazen Careerist is a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals.)