Are you in the market for a new job? Perhaps you have just graduated and are looking for your first job or maybe you are looking to switch jobs, but regardless of whether you are a newbie to the working world or a seasoned job jumper, it all starts with one thing: The Resume. This one piece of paper is the first impression you make, so it is important you spend some time polishing each bullet point. As an office manager, I have had the pleasure of perusing through piles of resumes, and have seen great ones and I have seen horrible ones. There are numerous blogs and articles on the web about the Do’s and Don’ts of Resume writing, and they all pretty much say the same things, but they leave out a lot. Below, I have listed 5 lesser mentioned tips any reasonable job seeker should follow when applying for a new job. These are derived from real job applications that I received by email. Hope these help and good luck with your job search!
1. Follow the directions in the job ad. If the ad says to attach your resume and cover letter as an attachment, do not copy and paste it from Word to the email. There are reasons we ask for attachments. First, it almost never fails that the formatting gets lost from one mail company (e.g. gmail, yahoo, aol) to another; and we are left with a garbled mess of factoids about someone who is usually only partially qualified for the job. We know you have the programs, because you are using a computer to send the email and computers tend to come packaged with some sort of word processing program. Find it, use it, and attach it. If you don’t know how to do this, ask a computer savvy friend to show you (attaching files to emails is a good skill set to have even after you’ve found your dream job).
Along the lines of following directions, if the ad asks for a cover letter, do write one. I cannot count how many applicants I didn’t even look at because they neglected to write a cover letter. Forgoing this one task shows the potential employer that you 1) can’t follow directions well and/or 2) don’t care enough about the job (if you aren’t willing to go the distance to get the job, what’s going to change after you’re hired?) When writing your cover letter, make sure you mention the position you are applying for and why you want that specific position in that specific field. If you use the same copy and paste letter for all your job applications, we will know. It’s obvious and it’s tacky. Now this is not to say that you can’t copy and paste that one paragraph about your experience and education, but you do need to cater it to the company you applying to.
2. Do not keep forwarding the same email when applying for jobs. I know it’s tempting. You see a job you’d really like to apply for so you go into your sent messages and find that email you sent to some potential employer last week. It’s a perfect letter. It’s well written, the resume and cover letter are attached (see above). Why re-invent the wheel? you think. You click the “Forward” button and enter the new email address and send it. For a moment you feel good about yourself because you’ve just saved yourself hours of re-writing a new cover letter and email. I know this seems like a genius idea, but don’t do it. As an employer, when I receive a forwarded email, there are a few telltale signs. 1) The subject says something along the lines of “FWD: Application from an uninterested job applicant who doesn’t like to do work”. Okay, it may not say that exactly, but it does say FWD 9 times out of 10. 2) At the top of the email it will have a little note to the hiring person explaining that the sender would like to be considered for whatever position we have available. Then I scroll down and I see:———- Forwarded message ———- From: Job Hunter <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Mon, May 10, 2011 at 2:34am Subject: FWD: Application for my DREAM job To: FutureBestBoss@gmail.com
How appalling! The applicant was obviously more interested in the previous job position than in the one I’m looking to fill. And what’s more, I know now every person this email has been sent to since there are about 5 of these forwarding notations at the bottom of the email. If it’s not explicitly obvious to you at this point, this tells the employer that you are not interested in working for his/her company specifically, rather you’re just mass mailing people that you think might hire you. And while this may be the case, you don’t want to give that impression to a potential employer.
3. Provide only relevant information. If I am hiring for a Medical Assistant position, I am not interested in reading how you worked at your local grocery store for 6 months and have experience handling cash. It’s not relevant and honestly, I don’t care. When creating your resume, you should expect to have a few different versions. (Back when I was looking for any job I could get, I had a resume for administrative jobs, health care jobs, and retail jobs.) Each version should be catered to the position you are applying for. If you are applying for a journalist position, list the time you spent working for your college paper, or that award you got for writing that paper on the comparison of Communism vs. Democracy. Add relevant special skills like your typing speed and your ability to navigate a blog. Don’t list that you volunteered at your uncle’s car wash and that you’re good with kids. I don’t care. Of course, if you are just graduating and have had little to no real-world experience, it’s only practical that you list every job you’ve held since you were 10, but if this is the case, you had better spend a lot of time on your cover letter explaining why I should hire you over someone with real experience.
4. Don’t keep calling the office to “follow-up”. It’s usually acceptable to call once just to make sure your resume was received. You might also take the time to let the employer know just how interested you are in the position, but don’t start babbling on and on. The employer is at work and has a lot to do. Listening to one applicant talk for 30 minutes doesn’t necessarily help your chances and could actually hurt them. If you do call or email to follow-up, then you are done as far as the application goes. Do not continue emailing and/or calling. This quickly becomes annoying to the employer and if someone else has been hired for that position, it just becomes awkward. If your resume shows that you are qualified for the job, we will call you. Simple.
5. Keep your references up-to-date. Some employers check references, others don’t, but it really doesn’t help your case if your potential employer calls your references only to find out that 1) you haven’t worked with/for that person in over 10 years and 2) the reference no longer works there either! Please use references that you’ve worked with/for within the last five years, the more recent, the better. And make sure that your references know that you have listed them as a reference and make sure their phone numbers are accurate and current.
Long story short, just take a deep breath, think about the job ad and create a beautiful work of art that will make the employer proud to call you in for an interview. Hope these tips help you in job hunt! Feel free to leave any comments or questions below.
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