I’m sure all of you have been to weddings and other kinds of gatherings where the host for the event has the need to say a few words. Not being great public speakers, these opportunities can be very painful or at times very funny, even when the host doesn’t intend for them to be.
One of my friends was giving his obligatory welcome to his guests and something he said struck me, not as painful or funny, but as very revealing to his personality. What he said was that those of you who know me know that I am smiling on the inside. Not unlike many of the accountants and other financial folks I have known over the years, his range of visible emotions was not extensive.
Sad, but true, many of us do not take the time to explain much about anything, let alone anything personal. We know, but we don’t let others know.
The newsletter format in The FENG provides all of you with a “run it up the flagpole and see who salutes” environment. Instead of being interrogated by a strange voice on the other end of the phone who doesn’t reveal much about the job in question and peppers you with questions intended to eliminate you, we force them to reveal all there is to know about their requirements before we have to speak. The position description gives us a golden opportunity to customize our resume and our cover letter to ensure that no one has to guess that we are “smiling on the inside.”
Yet, even with this competitive advantage, many members blow it. They know exactly why they are responding to a particular posting and why it is something of interest to them, but they don’t bother to explain it to the poor folks on the receiving end who are going to question their judgment with respect to their fit.
If we are all following the simple rule: “Qualified members only” then if you are responding to a posting in our newsletter, it must make sense to you. Your goal is to make sure it makes sense to someone, “just entering the room” who has no knowledge of you.
Perhaps a few simple examples will clarify this issue. Let’s assume you are from “out of town.” Even if the posting does not require local candidates, those schooled in search know in their heart of hearts that certain city pairs just don’t work. People in certain cities are just not likely to move to a particular part of the country. I realize that most of you don’t know about these secret pairs and that they aren’t published anywhere, but it honestly doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know there is an “elephant sitting in the room.”
A few simple words of explanation can solve this problem. Do you have family living in the new location? Did you go to school in that part of the country? Have you some other link that is not obvious from reading your resume? As much as I enjoy a mystery, when I am trying to find appropriate candidates for an assignment is not the time for such a thing.
Resumes get only a quick scan. Cover letters get even less time UNLESS the resume is of interest. A great fit on the resume with NO explanation in the cover letter is always a disappointment. I think it might work, but I want to provide comments to our client so he/she will understand.
Other issues are more difficult to solve. If you have held lofty titles and the job in question is not at that level, as Ricky Ricardo would say: “Lucy, you got some splaining to do.” Hard to know exactly what you can say, but to not take a stab at it will doom your candidacy in any case.
If you have friends you trust, ask them about the issues you face. There may very well be things they know but haven’t told you because you didn’t ask. There are things that you could easily explain away and enhance your prospects out in the world of responding to job postings.
You may be smiling on the inside, but it would be nice if you told me. To me you don’t look very happy.