I was working on two assignments for The FECG a few weeks ago and I couldn’t help but notice the frequency with which some members consistently failed to provide a meaningful cover letter with their resume. (Just so you know, assignments marketed by our consulting practice are only presented to members of The FENG for their consideration.)
I have often been heard to say that “your resume stands alone.” It’s true. But, sometimes we need a little more information. When a member’s candidacy is marginal, that email cover note can really make the difference.
When I say marginal I am not talking about the general qualifications of the individual in question, but rather his/her suitability for the particular assignment we are working on at that moment. In a perfect world, each and every resume would be able to stand alone. In the world in which we live, it is not always possible or practical to tailor the resume you might be submitting for one of our assignments. We understand this and when we sense you might be a reasonable fit, we try to “find out more about you.” We hope you have written a few words of explanation, but we are often disappointed.
For example, if you have held titles such as Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, it may be a little difficult to imagine you as a “roll up your sleeves” type of person. If you let us know that you have been working consulting assignments where you have been doing exactly that, it can help. (Perhaps you have even been wearing short sleeved shirts to save the time involved in rolling them up. Now that would really indicate a “hands on” person.)
Sometimes on the assignments we handle for our alumni members, we are looking for a particularly hard to find skill set. When it comes to fluency with foreign languages, I hope that anyone who is fluent in ANY language other than English would have the common sense to put that on their resume. (Personally, I’m still working on English.) But, if speaking a foreign language has not been central to your career, you might not think it important. Much as I would like to see it where our client could see it, at least mention it in your cover note.
Knowledge of specific software is another area where one might be reluctant to memorialize this information in your resume, software often being too specific. However, when a job posting appears to have interest in something in which you are an expert but it is not obvious from your resume, spell it out in your cover note.
In any job market, I know you don’t get a lot of feedback. Job postings in general don’t lend themselves to providing point by point feedback on why you weren’t selected. The number of applicants gets in the way of providing the kind of meaningful information essential to your more properly presenting your credentials. (Unfortunately, only the winners are ever notified.)
That’s why I write editorials. I see firsthand what members are doing and I want you to improve your presentation, not to make my life easier, but rather to ensure that you will find a job appropriate to your skills and in the shortest time possible.
One of the hallmarks of membership in The FENG is a reluctance to submit your candidacy for opportunities in this newsletter for which you are not really a fit. When I see you have applied for one of our assignments, I ASSUME, that you think you can do the job. I honestly would like to know why, but if it isn’t clear from your resume or cover note I really can’t help you.
So the next time before you say to yourself “Why bother?” with respect to adding information to your cover note or resume, consider the likely result. Either take a minute to write a proper explanation on important issues, or don’t send in your credentials. You really aren’t doing either of us a favor if you don’t.