Here are some important points to help you empower your resume.
maKe it reaDable
Since resumes are often skimmed the first time through, it must be easy for the reader to pick up key pieces of information quickly. Using long paragraphs of over ten lines or heavy blocks of text can be a real disincentive to read it.
If you tell the truth you don’t need to remember anything. —Mark Twain
Be honest and accurate. Whatever is stated should be true—but that doesn’t mean you have to tell everything. The resume is your marketing tool, not an application. Present what you consider the strongest information.
Never attempt to present yourself better than you are; the key is to demonstrate how good you are!
Thou Shall Not:
• Claim to have a college degree if you don’t have one. Neither should you
claim a degree from a college other than the one you received it from. This is the easiest information for employers to check. One person we know who was just 20 credits short of a degree figured he was “close enough” and indicated he had graduated. He received an offer for a very good position, but it was rescinded when the lie was discovered. He also burned the bridge with the executive who had originally recommended him for the job.
• Claim responsibilities that were not yours, nor job titles that would inflate
your actual level of responsibility.
• Exaggerate your accomplishments. Results do not have to be stupendous
or earth shattering. Modest results effectively presented are sufficient. (e.g., improving a procedure or process). The action involved in the accomplishment can be just as compelling as the result. It demonstrates your ability to make things more efficient, regardless of the scale, which is always valuable to an employer.
• Hijack another’s accomplishments. If you were part of a team, describe
your contributions and how they led to the overall results. Of course, managers and supervisors can claim credit for individual and group results . . . and usually do!
Studies by search firms and reference checkers indicate that as much as one-third of applicants lie on their resumes or job application. To counter this trend, many firms are going to great lengths to verify the information provided by their top candidates. Don’t become a finalist only to be eliminated because you stretched the truth. It isn’t worth it.
Oh, what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive!
what to Call it
It’s not necessary to type Resume, Qualifications Brief, Profile, or any other such title at the top of your resume. Everyone will know it’s a resume just by glancing at it.
Color anD tYPe oF PaPer
While paper is available in a variety of colors, textures, weights, and sizes, there are some standard guidelines to follow. The color of paper you choose can definitely make a difference in the number of interviews you get. White is always a safe color, but studies reveal that buff or off-white paper provide even better results. (Keep in mind that if you believe the resume will be scanned it should be white or a very light off-white.)
The finest resume paper is the 20-or 24-pound off-white or light gray classic linen made by several paper manufacturers. White can also work well. Many people also like classic laid. Both classic linen and classic laid have a texture that implies quality without overdoing it. If you prefer a paper without a textured surface, choose one with a “rag” or cotton fiber content of at least 25%. For those seeking management positions a light gray can be effective. Blues and greens have not tested well. Color should have a positive effect; this will nearly always mean you should use light shades. Dark grays and browns or bright colors are not recommended.
Twenty-pound paper is always a safe standard. A slightly heavier paper is fine, but avoid heavy stocks. Monarch size paper (7 x 10") is fine for thank-you notes, but stick with 8½ x 11" for your resume. Good papers often have a watermark, so make sure it is right side up if you print it or copy it yourself. Copy shops usually check for this, but it’s wise to double-check this yourself.
You can buy all types of fancy papers with borders and other nifty stuff. Such overkill is typically a distraction from your message and often counterproductive.
aVoiD oVeruSing worD ProCeSSing FeatureS
One drawback of using today’s feature-laden word processing programs is the temptation to cram the document with all manner of special graphics and effects. Too much of a good thing, however, can make the final result appear busy, overproduced, and annoying. These include different fonts, bolding, underlining, and italics. The example following is exaggerated to make the point. See if your eyes go all over the place, trying to concentrate on the content.
General Motors, Detroit, Michigan 10/97–Present
SENIOR ENGINEER – As part of a team of Software Quality assurance engineers, evaluate CAD/CAM software and make recommendations for improvements before software is made available to users within the company. Review functional specifications to ensure all portions are testable and fully meet user needs. REDUCED time necessary to fully evaluate software from 45 days to 18 days.
Keep it simple.
honeY, i ShrunK the Font
Three font sizes are typically used for resumes: 12-point, 11-point, and 10-point. For serif fonts such as Times New Roman, Garamond, and Book-man, we typically recommend 12-point, 11-point, and 10-point. The larger 12-and 11-point sizes are preferred because they are easier to read, especially for the older eyes among our population.
For sans-serif fonts such as Arial, Tahoma, and Century Gothic, we generally recommend 11-point and 10-point as the most readable.
If you are using 12-point and your resume is running long, you can adjust the font downward (most software packages allow fractional changes such as 11.5), or consider playing with the margins. While the standard margin is usually one inch on each side, slight reductions to 0.9", 0.8", or even 0.75" are also acceptable for top, bottom, and side margins.
Another way to get more on a page is to reduce the space between paragraphs. If you are using a 12-point font, every space between lines will be that size. After you’ve finished the resume, you can reduce those spaces to 8-point or even 6-point. There will still be sufficient white space between paragraphs.
If you want to try this with Word, here’s how to do it. Highlight the first paragraph symbol ¶ you want to reduce in size. There will be paragraph symbols throughout your resume if you are using that function. If you don’t see the paragraph symbol, go up to the toolbar and click on the paragraph symbol. Instantly your resume will be filled with paragraph symbols and there will be a dot between each word. With the paragraph symbol highlighted, find the font size control on the toolbar and click on it. Click on the font you want. Sizes below 8 as well as fractions (e.g., 8.5), require manual entry using the number keys. Hit the enter key and the space will be reduced. Move the cursor to the next paragraph symbol and hit the F4 key (the repeat key). Repeat as desired.
If you suspect your resume might be scanned into an employer’s databank, use 11-or 12-point. With 10-point, the scanner and OCR software are more likely to misread the content and obscure some of your valuable information. Writing in 10-point is also getting down to the very edge of legibility, especially for older readers . . . like us. Use it only as a last resort. For more on scanning see pages 144, 146–150.
Photographs should rarely be submitted with resumes. They are fairly standard, however, for such careers as models, performers, and media personalities. Many organizations are leery of receiving photographs with resumes because it increases the likelihood of age and race discrimination charges. Employers are nearly unanimous in preferring not to receive photographs.
gary: One client told me he had been sending out photos with each resume. He was a man in his late fifties who looked like Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. He said he did it to show the employers how robust and healthy he was in appearance. I asked him how he would feel if he opened an envelope and a picture of George Steinbrenner spilled out onto his desk. He grimaced, nodded, and discontinued the practice.
Employers who receive your resume will rarely inform your current boss. Even if they know your boss, they understand the importance of confidentiality. If, however, your current boss or company is known for firing people for “disloyalty,” consider the steps listed below.
- Type “Confidential” at the top of your resume.
- At the bottom of the resume type and underline, “Please do not contact employer at this time.”
- Replace the name of your present employer (and possibly your next to last employer) with a description such as, “A major manufacturer of automotive parts,” “A Fortune 500 Corporation,” or “A National Retail Chain.”
- Utilize an executive recruiter (headhunter) who can sell you over the phone without revealing your name and will send your resume only if the employer is particularly interested.
If your boss suspects you are looking but considers you a valuable employee, you are more likely to get a raise than a pink slip. In one sense, everyone is looking for another job—some are just more active than others. When headhunters call regarding truly great jobs, everyone is willing to talk. A good piece of advice, though, based on others’ experiences: Don’t tell even trusted friends at work that you are looking. Even your most discreet pals can inadvertently slip up and spill the beans.
Salary history and salary requirements do not belong on the resume.
Classified ads frequently ask for such information. We normally recommend ignoring the request. In this country what we earn is our own business not to be easily shared with strangers. Besides, this very information is usually the basis of your salary negotiations down the pike. Don’t tip your hand.
If you feel compelled to acknowledge the request, you might simply write in your cover letter, “Salary is negotiable.” Another option when asked for desired salary is to indicate a large range. For someone seeking $40,000 it might state, “Seeking $37,000–47,000 depending on responsibilities.” For someone seeking $100,000 or above, a larger range might be used, especially if there are bonuses and other perks to consider. HR managers confirm that highly rated candidates who do not include salary history or desired salary are still given strong consideration.
Positions with national companies often require relocation. A simple statement under a “Personal” or “Additional Information” heading stating “Willing to relocate” will provide an additional qualification often overlooked by your competition. If you don’t feel it deserves its own section, simply enter it in at the end of the resume.
reaSon For leaVing
Everyone has a reason for leaving a job, but the only time to present it is when it can be of value. Anything negative or complicated should be saved for the interview. Trying to deal with these issues in a resume or cover letter only causes confusion and distracts from the positives you are trying to convey.
Promotions and recruitments are always appropriate and can be cited either in the description of the job you were promoted/recruited into or the job you were recruited from. Other useful reasons include relocation of your company or department, especially if you were offered the opportunity to be relocated.
lead, order entry Department — Responsible for scheduling, training, and supervising four employees. Delegated work load, resolved customer problems, and coordinated with other departments. Developed procedures that increased order entry accuracy by 35%. Left due to a merger with NOP Industries when the order entry department was moved to Chicago. Received option for relocation and a position in the new enterprise.
Downsizing and reorganization have become facts of life in the modern world. Few have escaped it. Usually, there is no need to include the reason for leaving in the resume. It is usually best dealt with at an interview. If you do wish to address it, make sure that you point out the loss of your position was not an indication of your performance but a structural change in the company.
Left when the company downsized and position was eliminated. Company went out of business in 2002.
Avoid abbreviations that may cause confusion to readers who are not familiar with them. As a rule of thumb, use an abbreviation only if you are certain that everyone, from the HR screener to the hiring manager, will recognize it. Keep in mind, however, that words are more visually attractive when spelled out. For this reason we generally recommend spelling out the names of states, particularly in the address at the top of a resume. The trend, however, is to use the two-letter abbreviation for states used by the Postal Service. In essence you can’t go wrong with either option. The key is to be consistent throughout the resume. Some abbreviations such as “B.A.,” “M.A.”, and “Ph.D.” are preferred over the extended versions.
If you are going to use an abbreviation more that once, spell it out the first time followed by the short form in parentheses. An example would be: Introduced a Total Quality Management (TQM) program that reduced rejected parts by 22%.
Remember, this is a marketing process. Don’t be afraid to be creative. What can you do to separate yourself from the crowd without going overboard and looking ridiculous? Always put yourself in the place of the reader. How would you respond if it came across your desk? If you can come up with something that you are reasonably certain won’t backfire, give it a shot. Otherwise, it is better to stick with the more standard presentational strategies.
We have all heard stories such as the one about the guy who wrote his resume in crayon and was invited in for the interview. That is always used as “proof ” by people who denigrate the importance of a quality resume in the job search. What never gets resolved in this story, however, is whether or not the crayon-guy was actually offered a position or merely brought in so the folks could see what kind of moron writes resumes in crayon!
Before you get too creative, remember this: Hiring a person is a serious
business and employers are not looking to entrust their organizations and live
lihoods to characters!
SeleCting a Format
The format is essentially the layout of the resume. Many of the sample resumes included in Resume Empower! use the layout that has served our clients well for nearly three decades. It is easy to scan and it makes excellent use of space. Throughout the resume there is a balance of white space and text.
There are dozens of formats with dozens of variations within each format. Flip through the resume section from page 172 to page 245 and you’ll probably find one you like. If you’ve found a format in the past that you like, and feel it would do a good job of presenting your background, by all means use it. If you do not have a preferred model, you cannot go wrong if you adapt one of our sample resumes. They are time tested and well accepted.
Showing Your name, aDDreSS, Phone, Cell Phone, e-mail aDDreSS, anD web Site
A reader’s eye invariably starts at the top of the resume. For this reason, the very first impression of you is created by the appearance of your name and contact information.
Check out the heading below:
23654 Savoy Lane Houston, Texas 77058 (713) 483-0098 (h) (713) 483-5555 (c) email@example.com
Everything is centered and the name is 2 to 3 point sizes larger than the rest of the text. In this case the text is 11-point and the name is 14-point. The bolded name stands out, but it is not so much larger that it visually blasts the reader.
Since so many people now carry cell phones, it is not unusual to see these listed along with the home phone.
gary: I caution my clients not to include a cell phone number unless it is their only phone. Cell calls usually come in at the wrong time—in the middle of traffic, for instance, while you are trying to steer with one hand and suck down your latte with the other, while listening to your stereo. By the time you have answered the call you have bumped into the car ahead of you, spilled your latte in your lap, and, instead of hitting the off-button of the stereo, accidentally changed the channel and are now blaring Black Sabbath’s Greatest Hits!
The real downside, though, is that while you are driving or away from your desk or home, you don’t have access to the notes you made about the job, the company, and the name of any contacts that would be calling. Very rarely is there a hiring emergency that can’t wait until you have checked the messages on your home phone. Yes, your cell phone has a voice mail feature, but how many of us have the will power not to answer, afraid we will miss out on something immediate?
Tom: The answer is simple: Include your cell number on your resume and then just don’t answer your cell phone while driving or when you don’t have access to information on the positions you’ve applied for. It’s not that hard to do. If someone is seriously trying to reach you they can leave a message or e-mail you. Besides, if they don’t leave a message, you can usually tell who has called you.
E-mail addresses have become as common as street addresses and phone numbers. If you don’t have one, we advise getting one, as it is now the norm and conspicuous if absent. If you have created an online portfolio, include the Web address, usually on the same line as your e-mail.
Below are some variations. We’ve used 12 point for the name and 10 point
|for the rest.|
|rob thomas||rob thomaS||rob thomaS|
|23654 Savoy Lane||23654 Savoy Lane||23654 Savoy Lane|
|Houston, TX 77058||Houston, TX 77058||Houston, TX 77058|
Tom: Show your name at the top the way you want to be called. I’m Thomas Fuller Washington, but I go by Tom and few know my middle name. No one ever called me Thomas, not even my mother when she was angry with me. If your resume says Robert you’ll be called Robert even if you prefer Rob or Bob. If you write Elizabeth but prefer Liz, write Liz. There is no reason to include your middle name or middle initial. Employers will be looking at the resume more than the cover letter so they will call you whatever you have at the top of your resume. I don’t want to have to tell an interviewer to call me Tom, not Thomas, when I can get that result simply by putting Tom on my resume.
Gary: The resume is a quasi-formal or business document. As such, you should use your full name, including middle initial. It is the resume equivalent of dressing up for the interview. You can always sign your cover letter “Bob” or “Liz” just as you can similarly introduce yourself at the interview (“Call me Al”).
All of the examples in this section had everything centered. That is the most common way to present your name and address, but there are other ways as well. For additional ways to create a heading review the sample resumes.
There is more than just an aesthetic reason the name should appear at the top. Electronic scanners usually assume automatically that the top line is the name and process it accordingly. Yes, another example of technology limiting, rather than expanding, our options.
Showing worK numberS on Your reSume
It is rarely appropriate to include your work number on the resume. While privacy might be an issue, it is often considered unethical to use an employer’s time and resources for job hunting. With that said, the choice is yours.
juStiFieD leFt anD right or raggeD right?
Books and magazines are invariably printed using justified right and left margins (called full justified). This means all of the type starts in a straight line on the left and all type ends at the same spot on the right. This paragraph is justified left and right.
Most word-processing software enables you to select either a justified right or “ragged” right format. With ragged right, the lines do not end at the same spot. This is normal in letter writing. It is easy to pop your paragraphs into either format with a single click of your mouse on the appropriate icon and then decide which one better represents you. By the way, this paragraph uses ragged right. See pages 176 and 177 for ragged right and pages 180 and 182 for justified left and right resumes.
SimPle triCKS to uSe with Your worD ProCeSSor
Word processing is a wonderful tool, particularly for those of us ancient enough to remember typewriters, whiteout, and carbon paper. There are two particularly helpful tricks that you can do with a word processor: You can use the cut and paste features, and you can manipulate both the font size and margin settings to get your resume to the right number of pages, as discussed above.
Copy and Paste. You can use this feature to quickly tailor your resume for different positions. First, create a generic “copy and paste” folder. This is where you will store items you can add to or delete from your resume as needed. Every time you delete or add an item in the resume, park it in this file for future use. After awhile, you will probably have all the items you will ever need for your resumes and adding them to a new document becomes a matter of cut and paste . . . just like the name of the folder.
Don’t relY on the SPell-CheCKer to be Your ProoFreaDer
As great as spell-checker is, it is no substitute for good old-fashioned proofreading. The spell-checker will catch typos and misspellings, but it is not perfect. It cannot determine if the properly spelled word you used is truly the correct word. The sentence “I went to there home on Saturday and then returned for a short visit their on Sunday” would not be flagged by the spell-checker, despite the fact that there and their were used incorrectly. Frequent examples of this include waste and waist, two, to and too, as well as just plain misspellings such as at for as or it for is.
Two of the most frequent, if not the most frequent errors that get by the spell-checker in resumes are mange for manage, and manger for manager.
Always use the spell-checker. It is great for picking up misspellings and words that have reversed letters like worte instead of wrote, missing letters like lttle for little, or too many letters like tellling instead of telling. Mistakes like these are often difficult for proofreaders to pick up.
no tYPoS, no errorS
Whether or not you use the spell-checker, you must produce a resume with zero errors and typos. This usually requires at least three careful readings by you and one other person who is versed in spelling and grammar. Those with a lot of technical entries should have a fellow techie check for accuracy and spelling. These suggestions are valid for cover letters as well.
When asking for such assistance, make sure the helpers understand that proofing is all you want them to do. Too many times a request for proofreading or technical checking is taken as a license to critique the entire resume, format, fonts, number of paragraphs, use of bullets, and on and on. If they do offer that advice, unsolicited as it might be, accept it with good cheer, consider it their fee for the proofreading, and let them know you will take it under advisement.
Put Your name at the toP oF Page two
Pages sometimes get separated, so add your name at the upper left corner of the second and any additional pages along with the appropriate page number.
Joe Stephens Page Two
If space is tight you can save a line like this:
Joe Stephens – Page Two
If you absolutely have no room, feel free to use the header/footer feature of your software. That will set the information in the upper margin and not intrude into the body of the document.
SKiP the art Show
Unless you’re Picasso, no art! We’ve seen a few small logos that people have created for themselves that looked okay, but the vast majority of art simply detracts from the message.
learn the lingo
Every occupation has its own special language, jargon, nomenclature, and buzzwords. Learn the jargon and make sure you use the terms correctly. Then look for ways to get these into your resume and cover letters. This can be valuable in a key word search and when a real live person reads it. Using the right buzzwords creates the impression that “you’re one of us.” Without it you come off as an outsider. Make sure you use the jargon in appropriate places and don’t force it.
unlearn the lingo
Some professions, companies, and organizations have specialized vocabularies that do not translate well to the outside world. The military and government agencies, for instance, have a tendency toward bureaucratese and alphabet soup–type abbreviations. Companies often have pet names for many of their processes, which can be completely incomprehensible to someone in another organization doing the exact same thing. So, as you go through your job sketches, flag any terms you think might be too in-house for the type of audience you are trying to reach.
uSe SimPle worDS
Some people believe that a four-syllable word is always superior to its two-syllable cousin. They believe that longer words demonstrate intelligence and a strong vocabulary. Actually, good writing consists of using just the right word, not the longest or the shortest. Keep your writing simple and straightforward. A common problem writers face when using long or unfamiliar words is that they frequently use them incorrectly. Your resume is not the place to experiment with new words. If used incorrectly, just one word can make you look ridiculous and disqualify you from consideration.
get Your KeY inFormation on Page one
Qualifications, education, and your most relevant jobs usually belong on page one. If the employer scans your resume and is not sufficiently hooked by the end of the first page, it’s unlikely the rest will be read. If your most important or valuable experience took place earlier in your career, see Clustered Resume on pages 129–139 on how to get it to the forefront.
how to Create a two-Page reSume with three PageS
We like to keep a resume to two pages. It is the format we believe can best tell a person’s story without boring the reader.
A third page can be somewhat intimidating, causing a reader to balk. However, if the resume is well-written, informative, and—above all—interesting, and you believe the additional information supplied is critical, three pages can work nicely.
In some cases, if there is useful supporting information the writer wishes to
include, we recommend the creation of an addendum. Here’s how it works. If you have several categories to include on the page, such as Training, Pre
sentations, and Publications, simply create a generic Addendum title for the page and include each group under its own title.
Extremely lengthy Training sections can be disruptive to the flow of the resume. The first order of business is to limit the section to a manageable number that effectively represent the breadth of training received. Sometimes, however, the entire list of courses is important. In that case, creating a page header called “Training Addendum” adds the information. With this wording you have just created a two-page resume with a one-page addendum. To the reader it is still a non-threatening two-page resume.
Claiming it DoeSn’t maKe it So
Just because you say something or claim something doesn’t mean the employer will automatically accept it or be impressed. Back up your claims with evidence whenever possible. Evidence or proof is not always necessary to bring a person to accept or believe a point you are making, but it sure helps. See pages 12, 16, and 19 for more on providing evidence.
a USEfUl font
The section header above is in a font style known as small caps. It provides another format for listing employer names or job titles.
Exeter Manufacturing ExEtEr Manufacturing EXETER MANUFACTURING
The middle version uses the small caps in bold. Notice that the first letter E in Exeter is a full-sized capital letter. The remaining letters in Exeter are also capitals, but they are slightly smaller. It’s just a nice touch that can be used. Check your software tutorial to access this feature.
If you are considering more than one type of job, you may need two or more resumes. In this case you may want to write only one resume, yet give it more flexibility by using more than one objective, leaving everything else the same. This is easy to do with word processing.
An example will help. Jim is a very good computer salesperson with no desire to leave sales, but we created three different objectives for him to use in three different versions of his resume: “OBJECTIVE: Computer Sales;” “OBJECTIVE: Electronics Sales;” and “OBJECTIVE: Sales.” Nothing else in the resume was changed. Computer companies got one resume, electronics companies got another, and if Jim saw something interesting outside those two industries, he sent the one that said “Sales.”
Changing the objective, however, may not be adequate if the types of jobs you are seeking are considerably different from each other. Writing a new or modified Qualifications section for each objective will often do the trick. Far less frequently, you may need to make small changes in the employment section. Typically that consists of adding an area of experience that was a very small part of your job, but that will help sell you with that particular objective. You would also look for ways to get the right buzzwords in. And, of course, make sure you dip into your cut and paste file.
uSing CoVer letterS For FleXibilitY
A cover letter should accompany each resume you submit unless specifically prohibited by the employer. Another exception is for those resumes you personally hand out to hiring managers. The cover letter provides an excellent opportunity to highlight or elaborate on points you know are important to that particular employer, which may or may not be fully showcased in the resume.
anSwering ClaSSiFieD aDS
When an ad provides specific job requirements, there are a number of ways to respond. You can:
• Send your resume with a custom-written cover letter discussing key points
mentioned in the ad; or
• Customize your resume to hit all the important points in the ad and write a creative cover letter.
The latter approach is more likely to provide the best results, and it really doesn’t take much more time.
As you customize your resume, you may find that the job narratives require few if any changes, while the qualifications section might require substantial changes. The entire process of rewriting might take one to two hours. Time is your working capital, so consider it an investment. Taking time to redo the resume will not guarantee an interview, but it can seriously enhance your chances. If you lack certain desired skills or experience that were mentioned in the ad, simply ignore those points and really sell what you do have.
Traditionally resumes are folded in thirds and sent in a standard number ten business envelope. That is still perfectly acceptable, but consider spending a little more and sending the resume in a 9 x 12" envelope so the resume does not need to be folded. It’s not a big thing, but if it is not folded it will look nicer in the stack. To keep the costs down, the latter option is best confined to your most important employers.
For a really hot job, consider having it delivered by an overnight delivery service. For a super hot local job, consider having a messenger service deliver it. The extra effort is one way of saying you want the job. Priority mail also works well. While two-or three-day service is not guaranteed, most letters do get delivered in the U.S. within three days.
reaD thoSe rejeCt letterS, then toSS them
Most reject letters are form letters that tell you that though “you have a fine background, we had many excellent candidates, and have selected those for interviews who have just the right experience.” Of course, your resume will be kept on file (for 90 days/six months/one year) in case something comes up more suited to your profile. Go ahead and read such letters and then toss them.
Make a note on your sheet that contains the clipped-out ad you responded to and simply write “No” or “Reject.” Then move on.
Occasionally you’ll get a reject letter that indicates that the recruiter liked you, but you simply didn’t have the credentials or experience that some others had. Such statements are rarely made just to make you feel better. It indicates that this is an organization you should stay in touch with. Send the recruiter a polite thank-you note. Follow this up in the near future and ask for advice on more effectively presenting yourself or classes you might take to make yourself a better candidate.
when the reCruiter CallS
When a headhunter, corporate recruiter, or hiring manager calls you to set up an interview, listen attentively and take detailed notes. After agreeing to an interview, ask for more details about the position. The more you can learn about the position, the better prepared you will be for the interview itself. Questions you could ask include:
Could you tell me a little more about the position?
You indicated that the person would do (a duty), could you elaborate a little on
Who does the position report to?
Sometimes the headhunter will be calling you without having seen your resume. Perhaps you were referred by a third party. After a few initial questions, the recruiter will, hopefully, ask you to send a resume. By gaining additional information about the job, you can then tailor your resume and cover letter to fit the exact requirements of the position.
maintain a File For eaCh aD You reSPonD to
When an employer calls regarding an ad to which you have responded, you should be able to quickly locate it and refer to it as you speak. After applying for numerous positions, this type of refresher can be critical to your presentation.
iF You Don’t haVe Your own ComPuter or internet aCCeSS
Some people do not own a computer or have Internet access. While not usually a precondition of employment, an Internet address is becoming a standard part of an individual’s contact information. Even though most employers won’t contact you by e-mail unless you have applied for the position in that manner, it is just expected these days.
If you do not have or want a computer in your home, most libraries offer computer and Internet access. There is usually a posted time limit of an hour or so but that is often sufficient to write a letter or check email. If no one is waiting to use the computer after you, the time limits are often waived. You can also print out your tailored resume and cover letter at the library.
In addition to libraries, your state Job Service will have computers available. Certain nonprofit agencies, particularly those designed to help targeted populations, will also have computers available. If you don’t know how to use a keyboard, or access the Internet, the library or agency may provide assistance or direct you to the available training resources.
Friends are often willing to help out by sharing their computers and teaching you about word-processing.
There are dozens of free e-mail services, the most popular being:
Google (www.gmail.com) Hotmail (www.hotmail.com) Inbox (www.inbox.com) Mail.com (www.mail.com) Yahoo (www.yahoo.com)
Don’t eXPeCt reSPonSeS to Your reSume
It used to be standard practice for employers to acknowledge receipt of a resume. Even if it was the standard “We’ll keep it on file for six months” at least you knew the resume had been received and reviewed by somebody!
Well, that was then and this is now. Most organizations no longer feel that it is their responsibility to confirm receipt of your resume. It is both expensive and time consuming of company resources—that is, HR staffers. So, don’t waste two seconds complaining about, or even thinking about, the resume you mailed last week. We may criticize our postal service but the happy fact is that more than 99% of all letters reach their correct destination within a reasonable time. With that in mind, assume the resume was delivered on time to the right place. You will be contacted if you are considered in the running. So don’t waste time fretting about it and go on with your job search. Fretting takes time and energy and you don’t want to waste either.
Jobs you feel particularly suited to, however, but haven’t received responses to might require some follow-up. If you haven’t heard anything in a couple of weeks, go ahead and contact the company to inquire as to whether they received your resume and where they are in the selection process. While this might not net you any information, you have lost nothing by asking. On the other hand, you might learn that your resume was received and that the selection process has not actually begun. This happens a lot; there are often lags between the recruiting and selection stages of hiring. You might even be able to wangle a connection to the hiring manager for the same information. That is a bull’s-eye. That is pay dirt! You have the opportunity few others will have: personal contact with the decision maker. Make the most of it!
beFore You FaX or e-mail that reSume
Most faxes and e-mails arrive at the appropriate destination without a problem. Some don’t. Perhaps your fax came out the other end looking smudgy, or your e-mailed version was turned to gibberish. To determine if there is a problem, and whether the problem is at your end, send some test faxes and e-mails to friends. If they came out pristine, you are ready to roll. If there were problems, try using other faxes or e-mail servers. The quickest way to check the quality of an e-mail is to send it directly to yourself.
matChing enVeloPeS are Fine but not neCeSSarY
When you buy a nice quality paper for your resume, you can also buy matching envelopes. The truth is, the envelope is unlikely to be seen by anyone of hiring consequence and is an unnecessary expense. Some folks even go to the trouble of using special edition postage stamps. That’s only a requirement when you are trying to impress the mail clerk who receives the envelope.
aVoiD Common FauX PaS
Copying your resume at work is not recommended. Aside from the ethics of using company resources for such a personal activity, people have been known to remove their copies and leave the originals in the copier. Or have the resume on the computer screen when the boss walks by. This is similar to the inadvisable practice of receiving job-related correspondence on shared office fax machines. Not a great idea.
You Can’t PleaSe eVerYone!
No matter how hard you try, you can’t please everyone. For every hundred people you talk to about resumes, you’ll find a hundred different opinions.
Write the resume as if you were the hiring manager who was going to read it. What would you need to know about the candidate? Skills . . . Experience . . .
Achievements . . . Education . . . Training . . . and more. When it is complete, read it carefully. Does it make you feel like meeting the person described? If so, find someone you trust to proofread it. With that accomplished, read it again. If you still like the person you are reading about, smile. You have yourself a resume!
To show you how little control you have over who reads your resume and how they evaluate it, here’s a true story about the process used by one HR manager. When narrowing the list from 30 applicants to six finalists, she frequently found two or three tied for that sixth spot. So how did she decide? She took a ruler, measured the borders of each resume, and selected the one that had margins that came closest to exactly one inch on all sides.