Let’s be honest. There aren’t a lot of job postings in our evening newsletter that really are a fit for your particular background, salary and location preferences.
This being the case, you would think that if you saw an opportunity in our newsletter that strongly fit your background, you would take the time to do it right.
Let me first suggest to you that there simply is no excuse to having a resume that isn’t well done. With all the books that have been written on the topic of resumes, yours needs to be as close to perfect as it can be. There are several popular approaches that I think are wrong. One is to leave off your home address. I understand the identity theft issue, but if you leave off your SSAN#, your driver’s license number and your date of birth, you are probably safe. In the assignments that I work on for The FECG (www.TheFECG.com), I have seen the physical address even left off the resumes of candidates who were local. Yes, you can’t make this stuff up.
Let me also suggest to you that you aren’t fooling anyone when you leave off your early work history or the dates of your early work history. The only people who leave off dates are old. If you want others to immediately know you are old, leave this to their imagination. I can assure you that they will think you are at least 10 years older than you really are. This applies to your graduation dates as well. Lay it out there and if they don’t like it, they probably (this is one of those near certainty things) wouldn’t hire you anyway.
Make sure you “define” each prior employer. Industry experience is always a key element if a job is widely promoted. Those scanning resumes WERE born yesterday and they often won’t know unless you tell them.
Take the time to write a proper email cover note. To only say “attached is my resume” says to the recipient that they are very unimportant to you. If you know or should know the person to whom you are writing, using “Sir or Madam,” or the ever popular “Hiring Manager,” makes you look silly. Take the time to read the posting and get this part of your message right.
For those issues in the job requirements that deserve commentary, briefly make the link in your cover note. Location, if you are not local, is an important one. Why would you move there, especially if no relocation is being offered?
We live in a smart phone world. Email cover notes should be as brief as possible and in no case should they print out on more than one page. You can test your own message by sending it to yourself and trying to print it. You should also do some testing on your resume by sending it to 10 friends and asking them to print it. About 10% of the resumes I get print with a blank page which as a financially conservative accountant, I find annoying. (Yes, I know, Staples needs the money and God will grow more trees, but it is still annoying.)
I also find resumes with final pages that only have 3-10 lines on them very annoying. Usually this page only has your education. I guess some “authority” has recommended this approach because I see it a lot. A resume is either 2 pages or 3 pages. It should NEVER be 2 1/2 or 2 1/4 pages. It is also a bad idea to widen margins or make the font smaller. We live in an electronic world and you should be able to spend the time to properly edit your resume. A sharp electronic pencil is your best weapon to trimming your resume down to size.
In The FECG, we never ask for your salary history. What we do ask for are your salary REQUIREMENTS. To ignore this request I find a little rude since we ALWAYS provide a salary range for our assignments. There is always flexibility, but we need to know if you are within a reasonable range. We recently had an assignment that had a maximum range of $120k and one of our respondents wanted $300k. Friends, this isn’t mathematically possible. If you are that far off from what is being offered, I would strongly recommend not submitting your credentials.
Item last: outgoing signatures. If you don’t know what I mean by an outgoing signature, try Google. The end of the newsletter has mine. A proper outgoing signature indicates your “greeting to use” or nickname, your given name, your physical address, your phone numbers in the order you want them called, and your email address.
One of the ongoing mysteries of my life is why so many people leave this off. The issue of “greeting to use” is particularly annoying. If your given name is Robert, William or Richard, there are too many choices for me to get it right when I call you. Again, see my outgoing signature below.
So if the response rate back to you on job postings is so low, why do I recommend you take the time to get it right? The simple answer is that you need the practice.
Going through the thought process of why the position description that was held up as a target fits your background is a skill you need to polish.
Someday in the not too distant future a perfect job will come your way and you want to blow their socks off. Unless you have been through the “drill,” that won’t happen.