Monday, March 1, 2010

Better Resume = Lower Unemployment

Once upon a time, I was required to hire additional staff. The (incredibility) poor quality of the resumes we received, prompted me to write this "Letter to the Editor" of the newspapers wherein we had placed our Help Wanted Classified advertisement.

I was recently asked to help review job applications – sadly, many of my previous comments and concerns are still relevant. Accordingly, I am reissuing my Letter, in the hope that current job seekers will be assisted in their quest for suitable employment.


DATED: August 1985

FROM: A Potential Employer

TO: All recently graduated High School and College Students, and all others now seeking full time employment.

REF.: Your Resume’

My company was interested in hiring several employees, to fill newly created positions. Accordingly, we placed HELP WANTED NOTICES in several local newspapers. I am very disappointed with the quality of the resume's which we received, and I want to take this opportunity to point out to potential applicants, the common deficiencies, so that all of you may take the appropriate corrective action(s).

1) PLEASE DON'T WASTE MY TIME! Unlike you, I have: a job; a business to run; employees to supervise; suppliers and customers to pacify; and 1001 other tasks which require my immediate and ongoing attention. Reading your Resume' and cover letter (see #3 below) should not become an effort on my part. IF I CAN NOT MATCH YOUR SKILLS TO MY NEEDS, I WILL NOT CONTACT YOU FOR AN INTERVIEW! (Please don't call me) Why do you make it so difficult for me to evaluate your work history? If you are going to make to all of the effort to draft a resume'; PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO ACTUALLY SAY SOMETHING USEFUL ABOUT YOURSELF. Evaluate your final product by asking yourself this simple question:

"Does my resume' & cover letter make the reader / employer want to call me in for an interview?"

2) THE ACTUAL CONTENT OF THE RESUME'. It is unfortunate that they don't teach "Effective Resume' Presentation 101" in school. Were this class available, among the "minimum points" to be covered would be:

>> General statement of your goals and objectives; i.e., "I am interested in obtaining a position in: financial management, process workflow, secretarial, legal correspondence, medical technology, etc." – This makes it easier for me (the reader / potential employer) to match you to my job description.

>> A chronological list of work experience, from your current job backwards toward your first work experience - EXPLAIN ALL GAPS! (Unexplained gaps leads me think you were in jail). PLEASE summarize relevant activities older than 10 years - while it's nice to know that you sold a large number of Girl Scout Cookies in 1968, IT'S NOT RELEVANT!

>> BE BRIEF: 2 sentence maximum of what you did on each job. If the experience is relevant to my position, please believe me that I will ask you more about it during the interview (do you now see how your resume' has now attracted my interest...).

>> NO MORE THAN 2 PAGES PER RESUME' (see above). If interested, I'm sure I will ask about your lengthy career (or I'll give you the opportunity to explain it to me).

>> PLEASE TYPE (not printed with crayons) NEATLY, PROOF & SPELL CHECK YOUR WORK!!! A messy & careless resume' is surely the sign of a lazy person – someone who will not be working for me - EVER.

>> FINAL SHOT: DON'T EVER LIE ON YOUR RESUME'. You should take every opportunity to present yourself in the best possible light. However, you must assume that I will check your references and verify past employment. I will not hire anyone who is not TRUSTWORTHY! The flip side is also important. If you do not yet have the skills that I currently require, BUT ARE WORKING TO OBTAIN THEM, include this information. If none of the other applicants are acceptable / employable; I may reconsider your resume' (SEE - you won points for being straightforward, and not wasting my time in the first place).

3) COVER LETTER. Your resume' is a listing, which takes time to read; this is time I just don't have. A cover letter is the easiest way for you to point out your strong points so that I can find them easily, and match them to my hiring requirements. An interesting cover letter indicates a Resume' worth reading (see #1). You should indicate a range of the Salary of which you are considering (see #4 below); this is another way to summarize the most relevant candidates ("I am looking for a salary in the range of $50,000" If the job I am offering pays $6.75 / hour, think you have applied for the wrong job?).

4) SALARY HISTORY & REFERENCES. Please put this information on a separate page. If I want it, I'll ask for it during the interview process.

5) SHOW & TELL. Many jobs (i.e., graphic artists) require job candidates to actually provide samples of past work product during the interview (DO NOT SEND THEM WITH THE RESUME'). You should indicate that "Samples of Work are available", but be sure that these "trade samples" are appropriate and relevant to the job under consideration.

WORDS TO LIVE BY: Finding a job is like digging an oil well: it is essentially a game of percentages. By focusing your search on the most likely prospects, and helping targeted employers understand you as a potential employee; you can make job hunting both and educational and profitable experience.

FINAL NOTE: Keep your Resume' Current! I recommend that you rewrite it once per year (in the quiet period between Christmas and New Years?). I also recommend that you have a copy of your resume', when you travel, as well as when you attend: seminars, meetings, public events, etc. - you never know when you will stumble upon a potential employer. Consider the impact, if someone you meet is impressed enough to say to you, "Here's my card (note that they are asking you), Why don't you send me your resume'?"; to which you respond by providing them with a copy. WOW!

Best of Luck and Good Hunting to you all.

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