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Myth-busting: What’s fact or fiction for your VA application

As we promote the many exciting careers here at VA and offer advice to help applicants like you overcome the hurdles of the application process, we encounter a lot of myths about what you should and shouldn’t do when you apply.

Some of these myths are serious, some are outlandish. Some even contradict themselves. Unfortunately, all they do is just get in the way of people finding good jobs on our team.

Today, we’re tackling 4 of the most pervasive application myths out there. We’re going to dispel them hopefully once and for all. In turn, we’ll help you apply with confidence and get started on the path to a meaningful career serving Veterans.

Myth: Exaggerating your resume makes you competitive.

There’s no two ways about it: An exaggeration on your resume amounts to a lie, and at some point, a lie will catch up to you. Even if you make it through the interview, there will come a point where an “exaggerated” resume meets the reality of the job, and then you’re in trouble.

When it comes to a VA application, you want your resume to closely mirror the job announcement. You want to answer the questions that are posed in the job announcement by aligning your experience to the job requirements.

Now, that is not to say you can’t animate your resume. Rather than keeping to a rote list of basic facts, appealing language and action words are a good communication tool to engage the hiring manager. Show them you didn’t just do a job, you excelled at it.

Myth: The resume you send is the only one that matters.

Since we are on the topic of resumes, don’t forget that you have multiple resumes to keep track of, not just the one attached to your application. Keeping your LinkedIn resume up to date is an important part of the application process.

Make sure the information you are presenting online matches what you are sending along with your applications, because even though the resume you provide to recruiters will be the first they review, you can’t assume it is the last one they will see.

That doesn’t mean you have to tailor your LinkedIn resume for every application, like you would with your standard resume, especially if you’re applying for multiple jobs at once. Instead, make your LinkedIn resume a master copy of your work experience and job history.

Myth: Cover letters are not important.

While a resume is an exploration of what you have done, a cover letter is your chance to offer more information about yourself that doesn’t neatly slot into your resume, whether it’s awards you’ve won or unexpected employment gaps.

A cover letter is also an excellent opportunity to showcase your writing talents. Communication skills are important in every job, and your cover letter is a perfect way to show a hiring manager that you can articulate your thoughts in a clear and convincing manner.

However, don’t take it too far. A good cover letter should be one page or less, so keep it tight and always close by reiterating your interest in the role, reminding the hiring manager why you’re the best choice, and inviting them to follow up.

Myth: Nobody reads thank-you notes after interviews.

No one wants to feel like their time isn’t valuable, including hiring managers, so a touch of courtesy carries a lot of goodwill. If you feel compelled to write a note after your interview, do it, because it will be appreciated by the person who reads it.

However, don’t expect that such a note will guarantee you a job. You still need to meet the qualifications, and you still need to be the best candidate, but all things being equal, a quick note of gratitude could put an extra plus in your column.

Consider your follow-up note an addition that follows the same methodology as your cover letter: A chance to offer one more reason you are a compelling candidate. Be brief, be courteous, and stay positive by inviting them to reach out with any additional questions.

Work at VA

It’s true: We’re ready and waiting for you to join our team. Polish your resume, draft your cover letter, and get ready for the interview so your next job can be one at VA.  

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