Before You Hit Send – Things To Consider When Sending A Résumé

It seems so simple – find a job posting, craft an email that matters, fill out the subject line, attach your résumé, hit send. I must be missing something because that seemingly mindless task has been messed up by so many job-seekers in so many ways. To help you ensure that you don’t end up in the ‘no’ stack for something that shouldn’t get you there, here are a few ideas to consider when sending a résumé in for opportunities you find on-line, in newspapers, or anywhere else.

Make sure you are qualified. We are in the middle of doing a survey on the where, when, why, and how recruiters and candidates look for and work together and so far have collected 477 responses from third party and corporate recruiters. When asked ‘Where in the recruiting process do most candidates falter,’ the overwhelming favorite is ‘Applying to jobs for which they are not qualified’ with 48.3% of the vote (the next most popular has 16.5%).

If you do not meet at least 75% of the qualifications for any position you find you should not apply – 99.99999% of the time if you do not meet the qualifications you will not get called for an interview.

Follow directions. Many organizations have set rules on how they allow job-seekers to apply for their openings. If they say to apply at 11:42 on Tuesday morning to be considered you had better be sitting at your computer Tuesday at 11:41:59 ready to click send. Many candidates get eliminated right off of the bat because of their inability to follow simple instructions.

Email vs. fax. If only an email address is given in the posting use it, if only a fax number is given use it, if both an email and fax are given use the email. Additionally, never (and I mean NEVER) call someone and ask if you can fax them a résumé – you might as well go ahead and tell them you are an ace with a typewriter.

Your email. There are many different aspects of a creating a good email and all of them need to come together for you to be successful when submitting your résumé.

  • Your email address. This topic has been covered many times in many different ways (including in our earlier posting, The Little Things Matter) but it is worth mentioning again. Your email address DOES matter, make sure it looks, feels, and sounds professional.
    .to
  • Subject line of email. Whenever you send an email, particularly for in the job-search, make sure that you have a subject line that effectively describes why you are sending the person an email.
    .
  • Include a signature. At the bottom of any email you send when you are looking for a job include a signature that has your name and the best number and email address to reach you at for interview purposes
    .
  • Attaching your résumé. When you create a document you can name it anyway that you choose (I have seen some very creative document names over the years) – don’t just name your resume, resume – give it a name, YOURS.
    .
     Take a look at the two examples below. Which looks more professional?

Resume submision

  • Double check your work. Make sure you check your spelling, grammar, and capitalization – many organizations are sticklers for the simple things.

Cover letters / emails. Cover letters / emails are one of the most overlooked parts of a job-search – if done correctly they can increase your chances of getting called.

It is important to remember to always send a cover letter / email to every position that you apply to and to help ensure it is successful see the three tips below.

  •  Attachment or body of email. Many recruiters and employers would much rather see only one attachment (it makes our lives easier) in an email so make it your résumé.
    .
  • What to include in the cover letter / email. The most effective cover letters / emails do two things – reference the specific position to which you are applying and include a comparison of what the company is looking for compared to what you bring to the table.
    .
  • How to format it. If you are sending a formatted cover letter as an attachment or as a cover page for faxing purposes it is generally a good idea to format it exactly like you would your résumé in terms of heading, typeset, margins, etc.

word

If you choose to send it in the body of an email (again, recommended) you can give the same exact information but it will not be as pleasing to the eye.

EMAIL COVER LETTER THIS ONE

After applying. Ask your network (including those on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and any other social networks) who they know (or who they that knows someone that might know someone) that works in that particular company and try to get a warm introduction.

To finish up I wanted to give you an idea of what recruiters see on a day in, day out basis. Take a look at the two emails below – the first is a good example of an email that I receive multiple times per day and the  second I received a couple of years ago. He was trying to be cute to get a call (which is fine as long as you can walk the walk) but unfortunately he was not qualified for the position.

Typical

  Hall of shame

Until next time – good hunting and good luck!

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33 responses to “Before You Hit Send – Things To Consider When Sending A Résumé

  1. You might want to “Double check your work”. 🙂 You have a grammar error in the paragraph following this statement.

    Double check your work. Make sure you spell check and check your grammar and capitalization – many organizations are sticklers for the simple things.

    Cover letters / emails. Cover letters / emails are one of the most overlooked parts of a job-search. If done correctly they can have increase your chances of getting called but job-seekers put so little effort into them that they are not worth reading.

  2. Renee de la Sea

    Excellent and useful information. I forgot about the various forms of cover letters – presenting their needs then candidates qualifications. Very helpful. Thanks!

  3. Fabulous reminders for applicants as well as recruiters!

    Very frustrating to receive an email from candidates who are so rushed to present themselves that they actually forget to send the resume attachment with their email.

    Any comments or recommendations regarding the most popular attachment format? RTF, PDF, .doc, .docx?

    • I think that sending your résumé as a PDF is the best way to go but if you cannot make that happen then a Word document is a good second choice.

    • PDF! It is the best way to guarentee that the reviewer will see the correct formating. .doc/docx resumes can change lengths based on the reviewer’s settings.

  4. Matt,

    Here’s one more, my voice, to add to the growing and appreciative choir with thanks for the great idea re the cover letter.

    A few points from the grammar police:

    when sending a résumé in for -‘in’ is redundant.

    given in the posting use it – consider inserting a hyphen between ‘posting’ and ‘use it’. It clarifies your excellent point.

    different aspects of a creating a good email – replace ‘of a’ with ‘for’

    particularly for in the job-search – ‘in’ is redundant.

    I was once told me to read ALOUD my effort, before hitting SEND.

    May we expect an article that addresses the issues that may impact one’s résumé negatively? My specific point: to list the items in Microsoft’s suite seems superfluous but, pursuant to your above suggestions, if listed in the job description – provide it. Yes? What are the other, if any e.g., skills that may be deemed redundant or age the candidate? Which skills are worth including, but that may be overlooked by author of job description (as in: obvious)?

    Have you thought to avail your articles as a subscription option?

    Many thanks for your thoughtful and helpful postings.

  5. Larry Armstrong

    Matt there are so many things going through my mind when I am trying to make sure I do everthing correctly. Your insights are always very helpful to me. Just wanted to say
    thank you for everything you do.

  6. I echo Larry’s comment – “Thanks for everything you do” and thanks again for another excellent article. Even though I’ve seen and heard most of this before I can always count on you to come through with a new twist. I have been using the T-letter for quite some time, but it never occurred to me to format it like my resume.

    By the way, you told us once upon a time a long time ago at the NCTG meeting what to do make the symbols (forget what they are called)above the “e’s” appear in resume. Would you mind sharing again – I can’t find it in my notes.

    • Thanks for the kind words!

      To get the é you hold down the alt button and hit 1 then 3 then 0 on the number pad and you get the e and accent mark.

      • An even easier method (IMHO)… if using Microsoft Word, press Ctrl-‘ (the Ctrl key and the apostrophe key) simultaneously. Let go, then type the letter you wish to appear with an accent. So, to create the accented e in resume, press Ctrl-‘, e.

  7. Thank you for a helpful article. I am always amazed by jobseekers who say they have sent out 600 resumes for various jobs…you can’t possibly be qualified for that many different positions, and I doubt they spent any time personalizing the resume or cover letter. The time would be better spent focusing on a few jobs that are truly suitable for their skills and experiences.

    On the other hand, I love the cover letter by “Brian” (it’s definitely memorable) but I doubt he’d be happy in a QA role anyway!

  8. Great article, thanks!

    Alan Cross, another method for typing the accent marks in résumé, at least in Windows, is to switch one’s keyboard settings from “English (United States)” to “United States (International)”.

    There is a guide at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/306560

    I already have it set up. When I type ‘ [an apostrophe], it doesn’t appear immediately. Instead, the computer waits for me to type the next character. If the next character is c, e, y, u, i, o, or a then the result is ç, é, ý, ú, í, ó, or á (this words for capital letters too). If the next character is a space or t, 5, ], etc. instead then the result is ‘, ‘t, ‘5, ‘], etc. It’s a slightly more intuitive method than memorizing three-digit numbers or referring to a table of them.

    One can type other diacritic marks in a similar way too – from the Microsoft URL above:

    Press this key
    Then press this key
    Resulting character

    ‘(APOSTROPHE)
    c, e, y, u, i, o, a
    ç, é, ý, ú, í, ó, á

    “(QUOTATION MARK)
    e, y, u, i, o, a
    ë, ÿ, ü, ï, ö, ä

    `(ACCENT GRAVE)
    e, u, i, o, a
    è, ù, ì, ò, à

    ~(TILDE)
    o, n, a
    õ, ñ, ã

    ^(CARET)
    e, u, i, o, a
    ê, û, î, ô, â

  9. Good info! One of my pet peeves on a resume is with e-mail addresses. disneyfan1955 is warm and fuzzy for family and friends, but not for a professional document. With first impressions being so important, either face to face or on paper with your resume and cover letter, think about how your audience is going to perceive you and act accordingly. For free training videos on your resume, developing your personal brand, etc., go to http://www.seanmccaffrey.com.

  10. Thank you for the pointers. Very helpful!!!

  11. Great article. From a recruiters point of view; all common sense. Having said that, I’m one of those HR people that aren’t too put off by grammar mistakes, but spelling makes a huge difference to me. On the other hand, all of my technical hiring managers care about such things and will disqualify any resume that is riddled with any kind of mistake (especially spelling).

    And if you haven’t blogged with your kids trying to grab your attention, you haven’t blogged.

    • Tony –

      Thanks for your comment! I agree with you – I can look past a couple of grammatical errors if they are a rock star candidate but some folks are absolute sticklers for that type of thing.

  12. One note of caution on the issue of being qualified for a job. Generally speaking, women tend to underestimate their own qualifications. I even heard former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan talk about this, how women at the UN weren’t applying for more senior positions because they thought they couldn’t do them, while men were often applying for jobs “they had noooo business applying for.” (That bit got a big laugh.) I have to keep reminding myself of the 75% rule from the other direction. If I already have ALL the skills listed, them I need to challenge myself with a different or more senior position.

  13. two points:

    I have heard other recruiters claim that companies’ job requirements can be flexible for the right candidate–you might bring something to the table that the company likes, but didn’t list in the job requirements. Of course this is more likely to happen if you can send the resume directly to the hiring manager. The HR people seem to follow the letter of the law.

    Second, you can attach the cover letter to the front of your resume and send both as one document.

    • I would agree there is always some flexibility BUT if I am looking for a sales professional with 5+ years of medical device sales plus a MBA the hiring manager might be flexible on the 5 years experience or the MBA but he is NOT going to hire an accountant with no sales experience.

  14. Good read, Matt, well augmented with screenshots. Stumbled this for you too

  15. Good reminders.
    However, the intro to the cover letter (“My name is John Smith”) seems not only redundant, but unsophisticated/simplistic. Do recruiters/HR personnel really recommend that approach??

    • Diann –

      You can talk to 1,000 different recruiters and will get 1,000 different ideas on the best ways to do things – its your job to figure out what works best for you and your situation.

      Thanks for reading!

  16. How does one get past the ‘bureaucracy’ of the HR Dept. when wanting to apply for a position that you know full well you could do standing on your head, but you fail to meet the EXACT criteria in the job spec.? I have had such an instance where I had more than the necessary qualities, experience and professional qualifications for the job, but I failed with the requirement for a specific Bachelors Degree. I could not be put forward for the post because the HR Dept. said I didn’t have the necessary qualifications! Even if I did possess the Degree in question, it would have been obtained more than 20 years ago – where’s the relevance in that?

    • David –

      Having an inside connection is by far the best way to bypass the ‘blackhole’ that is some (not all) corporate HR departments. However, even with an inside connection some employers will NOT budge on certain requirements (they pay the money, they have the right).

      There have been some positions I have been passed up for in the past because of a lack of a Masters degree even though I could have run circles around the people currently working there. It is just one of those things that is going to happen.

  17. So what is the industry’s take on html mail as the way to provide nice looking cover letters? Your example was a standard 90’s style text based message with an attachment. While I personally dont care for html mail bodies it could be a solution to the ratty looking text version.

  18. This has been helpful thank you. My problem is that I am switching careers so my experience has nothing to do with the job I am looking for. Any advice for a guy going from construction to IT?

  19. Nice post man,

    I had a similar post http://hydishyd.blogspot.com/2009/12/writing-good-resume.html

    linking together both 🙂

  20. on behalf of all job seekers

    TO ALL RECRUITERS AND RECRUITMENT PEDANTS!

    WE ARE THE JOB SEEKERS NOT POETS; TECHNICIANS, ECONOMISTS…, PEOPLE FROM VARIOUS ENVIRONMENTS! NOT A DAMN RECRUITERS LIKE YOU ARE. WE DON’T WANT TO PLAY YOUR STUPID RECRUITMENT GAMES! ALL WE WANT IS TO FIND A GOOD JOB. WE DON’T SEND ONLY ONE APPLICATION WHEN SEEKING, WE DO SEND HUNDREDS INSTEAD! WE DON’T HAVE A DAMN TIME TO CREATE A 100 OF DIFFERENT OF COVERING LETTERS ONLY BECAUSE YOU LIKE IT! IT WORKS IN BOTH WAYS – WHY DON’T YOU JUST LOOK INTO OUR RESUMES IN ORDER TO READ IT ENTIRELY WITH ATTENTION TO DETAILS – IT’S ALL THERE! GOT OUR HEAD EARN YOUR PART AND SHUT UP, GO TO HAVE SOME FUN IN THE EVENING.

    CHEERS!
    (ALL IN RESUME BUT HERE IT GOES AGAIN)
    MY SIGNATURE GOES HERE,
    MY ADDRESS GOES HERE
    MY MOBILE NUMBER GOES HERE
    MY MSN GOES HERE
    MY MAIL GOES HERE
    MY WEBSITE GOES HERE
    WHAT ELSE GOES HERE?
    MY SIZE GOES HERE?

  21. Wow!

    I feel that you are a little frustrated. Wish you could see it from my (the recruters) end for one week and I think you would understand).

    Signed,

    Recruiters Everywhere

    • on behalf of all job seekers

      Yeah,

      Probably you are right, but what I’m trying to shout out is that we also have to do a tough job when pursuit for a good assignment. We know you must distinguish all those silly applications from those professionals and one of the ways is to read a good covering letter after that you will kindly decide whether to go or not to read a resume. The only one difference between you and us is that we finally got our job and we forgot about you until the next try while You remain in your daily routine procedures browsing a resume of another heads.

      Cheers!!
      And good luck to all of us!

  22. Loved the Cover letter format-Your needs and my qualifications, excellent!

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