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.
- 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?
- 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.
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.
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.
Until next time – good hunting and good luck!