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Photo of Rachel Garson Taylor, M.A., LPC, NCA assistant director of student career advising, serving students in Kellogg Certificate Program for Undergraduates.By Rachel Garson Taylor, M.A., LPC, NCA assistant director of student career advising, serving students in Kellogg Certificate Program for Undergraduates.

At some point, you have probably heard a cutesy saying about the “little things.” It is the little things in life. It is the little things that matter the most. Little things make big things happen. There are too many to list and you get the point. The applicability of these phrases is widespread, including your approach to the internship and/or job search.

The little things that make a big difference on your resume:

  • Size of your name – If you make it too big, it may say something about the size of your ego or be perceived as filler. If you make it too small, it may make your name less memorable.
  • Relevant course list – Select courses that give additional information so that an employer understands what relevant knowledge and skill base you have to offer.
  • Order of bullet points – Be strategic about the order of information you present. Lead with the strongest and most relevant skills as they align with your pursuits. If you are applying for an analytics job, lead with analytics skills; if you are applying for a communications internship, lead with your communication skills.

The little things that make a big difference on your cover letter:

  • Correct position title – While this sounds obvious, this error happens with great frequency. Use of the incorrect position title may communicate to an employer that you are either not detail-oriented or you did not invest the time to write a letter for them specifically – neither of which will support your candidacy.
  • The why you need to know – The body of the cover letter is intended to demonstrate to a potential employer how you have used your skills in other experiences to make an impact. Take this one step further and articulate why this adds value to the position you are pursuing. This demonstrates understanding of the role and directly aligns your experience to the position you are pursuing.

The little things that make a big difference in your interview:

  • Your chair – Although you may know where to sit, wait until offered a seat. This demonstrates respect and good manners.  Both are important as employers think about your potential to interact with other staff, clients, and leadership.
  • Their name – As you are saying goodbye, use this opportunity to thank them personally using their name. This adds a layer of familiarity and warmth to the impression you are hoping to create.
  • Thank you note – Write one! Because not many applicants are doing this, I can’t think of a better way to set yourself apart. Additionally, if you are going to write a thank you note, personalize it to your conversation with that specific interviewer.

The little things that make a big difference on your job/internship search attitude:

  • Potential – See the potential in yourself and the opportunities available. When you see the potential, your excitement will be conveyed in your commitment to the search, the effort you exert, the application materials you submit, and the way you present yourself.
  • Success – While your ultimate goal is to secure a job/internship, celebrate each success along the way of making this happen. For example, an invitation to interview is a huge step forward and one that you should acknowledge as it means the employer sees your potential.

I encourage you to embrace the “it is the small things” mentality as you approach your search. The little things will help you to stand out as a candidate. All these little things will add up to make a positive impression with employers and ultimately a difference in your search. For more guidance on the job/internship search, schedule an appointment with your NCA career adviser.

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