Friday, December 5, 2008

Rules for Fools

Do's and mostly Don'ts when Applying for a Job

OK, my article title is a little harsh. But I got your attention, right? In the course of interviewing job applicants and reading resumes over the years, I have just about every obvious mistake that a job seeker can make. The following are a few suggestions that might just help the young job seeker and bring a smile (or tear) to the HR professionals:
  • Do Not Apply for a National Sales Manager position when your work history reads "French fry cook at McDonald's" and "Summer Intern at PR Agency" Do you think?
  • Do Not send your resume to 500 companies with the idea that if you throw enough darts, one will stick. If you have that much free time on your hands, I can put you to work (without pay, of course) commenting on my blog. At least your efforts will be seen on the World Wide Web.
  • Do Not write on your cover letter "Will only work 9 -5, Monday through Friday, as I have to take care of my Mom's dog in the evenings and on weekends." Truthfully, as an employer, I could care less about your Mom's dog, and if your Mom's dog is so much more important to you than your career, that you would actually mention it on your resume cover letter, what does that say about the kind of employee you would make?
  • Do Not use an email address for job searching, such as Unless, of course, you are applying for a position as a dating chat room moderator, but even then you might want to consider something a little more professional.
  • Do Not use one of those voice mails with a 2 minute musical introduction from Usher or Beyonce. Nothing against Usher or Beyonce, mind you, but do you really think an employer is going to hire you because of your musical tastes, particularly after making him or her wait for several minutes to leave a message?
  • Ladies (and guys for that matter), when attending a job interview, Do Not wear two quarts of Chanel No. 5 perfume. Your boyfriend, husband or lover may enjoy being able to locate you 3 blocks away without a GPS device, but employers generally do not want to have turn on a fan in order to conduct an interview.
  • Guys, when shaking hands, Do Not try to break the hand of the hiring manager in an attempt to be macho. On the other hand, no pun intended, while humility is one thing, limp handshakes are a real turnoff. Try to find a balance.
  • Ladies, when attending a job interview, Do Not wear a mini skirt, low plunging neck line or clothing so tight that the employer can read the label when you turn around. Your Mom probably already explained this to you, so I won't elaborate, except to say that most employers, in today's job market, are probably more interested in your work ethic than your measurements.
  • Guys, when attending a job interview, Do Not wear a dark colored striped shirt with a polka dot tie. Unless, of course, you are applying for a position as a clown. I know, I know, I'm being fussy. But just maybe, if you actually want to be hired, you could swallow your pride and borrow a nice plain white or blue shirt from your Dad.
  • Do Not write on your cover letter, "I'll do anything. I really need a job." You'll do anything... really? You'll clean the employee bathroom, negotiate new credit terms with our lender, manage our sales force and install our new computer network? Wow! A little more focus and a little less desperation might get you better results. Just a thought.
  • Do Not tell the prospective employer that they "would be crazy not to hire me", that "I'll double your sales in two months" or that "I am the best". Confidence is one thing. But do you really think you can talk your way into a job?
  • Do treat the hiring manager the way you would like to treated. If you actually want to be hired.
A little respect and some common sense can go a long way in your job search and career planning.

Finding the Perfect Job - Writing the Perfect Resume

Everyone wants to find the "perfect" job. After all, our working hours dominate the largest portion of our life, with, perhaps, the exception of sleeping. You want to make money, you want to be happy and, if you are like most people, you want personal fulfillment in your work. The steps you take along your career path can greatly affect this outcome

Be brutally honest with yourself. Analyze your abilities, your strengths and your weaknesses before you start flooding the job boards with your resume. You don't need to apply for a thousand jobs... just the ones that fit your criteria.

Perhaps most importantly, once you've made a realistic assessment of the the best possible positions to apply for, you need to approach potential employers with all the ammunition you can muster. This includes a very targeted cover letter, as well a resume, that matches the job description as closely as possible. Make certain that your resume includes key words that match the job posting. Were you aware that most large companies scan resumes electronically for these key words?

As someone who has read hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes, I am always amazed at the number of applicants who have absolutely no idea about the position they are applying for. Do your homework on the company you are sending your resume to! Emphasize why you believe you would be an asset to the firm, based upon this homework. Ask yourself, "If I was a Human Resources manager, would I call me for an interview?"

For advice regarding how to write the perfect resume, I highly recommend the following resources:

ResumeBear Job Blog

For first time or even experienced resume writers, you may find the ResumeBear an easy-to-use, step-by-step, online resume creation, management, delivery and tracking tool. With their unique, patent-pending service, you can send a resume online without attachments and be informed via e-mail or text message when your resume was opened, allowing you to be more proactive in your job search.

Above all, believe in yourself. Go into the interview with faith in your abilities and skills. Believe that you have something of value to offer. And don't forget to smile.