Over the last several years, I’ve seen some pretty dramatic changes in the quality of the workforce –as an example, more qualified people applying for entry level jobs and less qualified people having extraordinary expectations. I’ve seen major changes in the dynamics of office environments- much brought on by issues related to attitudes and perceptions of the staff. This shift has definitely caused me to rethink the culture of my company – who I hire, and why. The hiring process is arduous, at best, and one thing that has stood out the most when I am interviewing a potential employment candidate is just how unprepared many jobseekers appear to be. If you’re looking for a new job – well, then this is dedicated to you.
Tailor your resume, and your email
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve received resumes with an objective of obtaining an “accounting position” when I’m hiring for an administrative assistant; or for the “customer service representative” when I’m hiring an account person. Worse, I’ve received emails from prospective employees where I can see who else they sent the email to – yes, one email with the same resume, sent as a cc to several potential employers . No good. If you want to actually be considered, tailor your resume to the job description, and please, send an email just to the person recruiting for that one job. If you see 20 jobs you’re interested in applying for, that means 20 separate, tailored emails. While you may think sending one email out to all HR managers at the same time is an efficient way to seek new employment, the people on the receiving end of your email certainly won’t.
Use spell check
Now I know I’m a PR professional, and spell check has to be my best friend, but there’s no excuse for anyone to ever send out a document, much less a resume, with spelling errors in it. Run a spell check on your resume, and your cover letter and your email. No matter what job you are applying for, it doesn’t bode well if the person reviewing it spends more time editing it with a red pen to correct your terrible spelling than they do actually considering you for the job. Plus, they will likely wonder (as I do) if you couldn’t take the time to do a really great job applying for the job, what kind of job would you do if they hired you? And for sure, if you’re in the communication industry, please, please, set your autocorrect to ensure that “public” always has an “l” in it. Anyone that has made this mistake knows for sure what I’m talking about. In fact, I recently wrote a whole article for the Sacramento Business Journal about this very thing. Read it here.
Be professional from the start
If your personal email is firstname.lastname@example.org, get yourself a new email address before you start sending out resumes to prospective employers (almost exactly an email I received many years ago, by the way). Where a resume originates from is the very beginning to how you will be perceived by the person reviewing it. Want to be taken seriously, and seriously considered? Then vanity emails aren’t the way to go. That also means it’s not OK to send a resume from your current work email – all an employer sees is that you’ll be doing the same thing at their office the next time you start to look for a new job. If you don’t have a general, professional, private email – get one.
Do your homework
In addition to tailoring your resume and your cover letter or email to match the job you are applying for, I would suggest that when you can, you do some homework about the company where you are applying. Realizing that not all job posts mention the name of the employer, if it does, it’s a good idea to spend a little time on the company website, Google news related to the company, or even asking other colleagues what they have heard about the company. This will help you to better determine if this is the right fit for you, should you be offered a position. But more importantly, it shows the employer that you are invested in the opportunity to work for them, and not just looking to land the first job that comes along. Even if you only make a small mention of one or two things you’ve found in your research, it will get noticed. Trust me.
Be creative and unique
Last time I was recruiting for a new assistant, I received more than 200 resumes in just two days. I’m sure this isn’t unique to my business, and probably very common to anyone who is routinely and directly involved in the hiring process. But that’s a LOT of resumes to comb through! What that means for prospective employees is that you must stand out, in some way, if you want to get noticed, interviewed, and hopefully hired. Be funny (but still professional). Be creative, and interesting and engage the reader. Realize that your resume won’t be the only qualified one of the bunch, and that you are competing against a lot of other really solid, qualified candidates out there. And, don’t be afraid to follow up after you’ve sent your resume. Note – that means one professional email – don’t become an email stalker to the HR department.
There’s so much more that goes into finding and being selected for that next great job, but hopefully this helps get you started down the right path to successful employment. In the next post, I’ll cover some interviewing tips. You really won’t believe some of THOSE stories.