If I could help the world today in one way (besides solving the economic crisis), it would be to reach out to every one of you who is looking for a job – putting yourself out there to be screened and judged – and give you advice. I’ve been there and it’s tough to sell yourself again and again. I’m certain I applied for positions where I hoped the recruiter could see my potential even though I wasn’t really qualified. I shudder when I recall it.
I am constantly amazed by how candidates present themselves. I often think, “maybe you’re just throwing another resume out there so you can tell the unemployment office you made a contact.” Because if that’s not it, you need more advice than I thought.
PART 1. Pre-Interview stage.
Don’t make me work hard, I don’t even know you.
You have one chance to make a first impression so don’t blow it at the get-go.
I receive resumes that say they saw our posting on Craig’s List but don’t reference the job title. That’s great – which one? We have several posted. Now I can either just discard your email at this point, or I can open your attached resume and try to figure it out. I could go either way depending on the day. Or you give the position a title that isn’t what we posted. A little respect, please.
Know the company.
If you haven’t looked at our web site, and you think we offer PR services then you didn’t do your homework. Round file, right now.
Tell the truth.
Absolutely, never lie on a resume – not even one iota. Don’t embellish your previous responsibilities or worse yet lie about your education. But that’s not what I want to address here. Be truthful in things like this: If your email says, “let me briefly describe…” then be brief. If you filled up two computer screens to tell me what your cover letter already says, then you lied to me. You won’t make the cut.
The devil is in the details.
We always look for new staff members who can demonstrate that details are important. So if you say, “attached is my cover letter and resume” and you sent me two cover letters instead, I’m probably not going to think you’re right for the job. (Worse yet, I received two cover letters from a candidate, one that addressed our agency and one for another agency, with exactly the same passionate plea – “You’re the only agency I want to work for.” Take the time to customize your resume for the position (I didn’t say “lie”). If your stated objective on your resume says you want to be a designer and you’re applying for an AE position, then we’re not going to consider you.
Bring something to the table.
Employers want candidates to bring skills and experience to the position. If you tell me you want to work at ID Branding so we can teach you everything, then you’re missing the point. If you were hired you would definitely learn, but you won’t be hired unless you can demonstate the value you’d be bringing to us.
Focus. Focus. Focus.
I look for someone who is on a path. It tells me they have a passion and a focus for whatever career they’re in. If you were a priest who got disenchanted, then dabbled in event management, then worked in a call center, you don’t have focus. It may not be too late, so pick a field, stick with it, and don’t be shy to take an entry-level position to get your foot in the door. Many companies like to promote from within (we do).
I can’t think of anyone who gives advice for anything other than to be helpful. (Ok, except maybe your aunt Edna who told you recently you ought to lose a few lb’s). So if a recruiter takes the time to give you feedback, be appreciative and take it to heart. Hmmm, I never heard back from the priest.
Maybe in some small way I can help the economic crisis if I can help you put your best foot forward as a candidate – here, or elsewhere in the world.
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