The art of the résumé

It’s true, we’re hiring again.  For me, the prospect of adding a member to the team is always exciting – what talent will we find?  Will she or he have amazing shoes?  Even better ideas?

But I also dread the process so intensely that I cringe as I type this.  Open positions inevitably mean that a mountain of terribly written and completely unimaginative résumés will flood my inbox.  I’ve received so many downright awful emails, cover letters and résumés that I’m actually contemplating writing a book on the art of being hired.

The truth of the matter is that your potential employer is judging you in just a few hundred words.  If those words don’t make an instant (positive) impact, you’re dead in the water.  I do recognize that as a graduate from a top progressive business school, I have extensive training in the actual writing of résumés, interviewing, cover letters, job experience etc. and it is a slightly unfair advantage to my potential hires.  Perhaps I’m asking for too much, you might say.

But the thing is… I’m not.

In less than one week, we received over 150 applications for two positions at a relatively unknown company.  I can afford to be picky, and I will exercise that right.  I don’t mean to alarm you or further add to the stress of unemployment or underemployment, but I want you to be prepared for what you can expect when you apply for any job and perhaps make some suggestions for landing that dream position.  With a little extra attention to detail, some thoughtful insight into your skills and PROOFREADING you can nudge your name to the top of the list.

For starters, you should know that there are a few no-no’s that will send your application immediately to the trash bin.  I can’t say it’s the same for every employer, but it’s a good idea to avoid these insta-brush offs:

Not attaching your résumé and simply pasting it into email.

CCing multiple employers in one mass email. (seriously?)

Multiple errors in your cover email.

Not including a cover letter is not acceptable. “Resume attached” won’t cut it. HINT: No subject line in email is even less sufficient.

These rules seem obvious, no?  You’d be surprised how many people can’t muster up the energy to attach a word document, it’s sad really.  Obviously not everyone has the business training that I do, I don’t expect every application to be glittering and can accept some faults.  But there really is no excuse for unprofessionalism in 2012 – when everything you need to know is just a click of the button away.  If you really want a job, and if you’re actually good at what you do, put a little thought into it!  Otherwise, employers like myself simply won’t take you as seriously as the next candidate who did.  A tiny bit of effort goes a long way my friends.  Here is a short list of some Do’s and Don’ts that might seem obvious to some, but flood my inbox at an alarming pace.

DON’T

  • Send an attachment titled “resume”  When I save them all to a folder, how on earth will I know it’s yours?  I seriously detest that 80% off all résumés I download I have to rename with the applicant’s name.  Don’t make me do the work for you.
  • List your pets or hobbies on your résumé (unless you’re applying to a hobby store, vet clinic or pet store).
  • Neglect to sign your name on your cover letter.
  • Say that you are available ASAP.  Actually, don’t abbrevitate. Anything. Ever.
  • Quote business professionals in your cover letter. Unless it is a direct quote from a previous manager as it applies to your skill set, it is irrelevant.
  • Say that you would, “consider the position.”  Oh really? I’m so honored.
  • Ask the employer to email you elsewhere or send your application from your husband’s/sister’s/whoever’s account.  If you are old enough to apply for a job, you are old enough to have your own email account.

DO

  • Include your contact information; phone number, email, full name.
  • Save your résumé with your name included in the title of the document.  ie “Lindsey Auclair Resume” or “Lindsey Auclair Executive Manager.”
  • If your resume is multiple pages for good reason, but the last page only has a few lines – find a way to condense it.  Margins are your friend.
  • Research!!! Google ‘resumé examples’ and pick the ones that you think are the easiest to read.  It’s not helpful if I am so distracted by all your bullet points, paragraphs and headings that I want to reformat your document.
  • Don’t let me reformat!  Save your résumé first as a word document then as a PDF and send me the PDF.  That way you can ensure that all of your formatting will remain intact and I’ll see your résumé the way you intend me to.
  • Compliment the company for which you are seeking employment.  ie “After checking out your website (where I immediately started a wish list),  I decided to write and see if I could talk to you about the opportunity to work with your company.”  (She scored an interview.)
  • Send at least two documents – cover letter and resumé.  And include a brief message in your email.
  • Edit that Facebook page you Gen X’s!  We don’t use Facebook while looking at the initial applications but once I have invited an applicant to interview, we are definitely Facebooking.  Applying to a vegan footwear company and your profile pic shows you chowing down on a juicy burger?  Probably not the best idea.

I hope that my little list of semi-obvious rules is helpful to some.  Although, let’s get real.  The people who need the most help won’t be looking for it, will they?  But if you’ve found your way here, you’re already ahead of the game and I’m sure your résumé will blow their socks off.  Focus on your assets and find a job you enjoy, you’ll be spending a lot of time there!  If there is anything I can help you with, don’t hesitate to ask.  Good luck lovelies!

ps: Looking for a job in Charleston, SC and can follow these rules?  Send me a message!

Don’t you just love this guy?  Yay stock photos!

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