July 1, 2008

More advice on resumes and cover letters

So, I posted in May about some advice for resumes and cover letters here. We were hiring for SIX open positions at the time where I work, so I was screening hundreds of resumes per week. Now, we're down to three open positions, but I'm still reading a lot of resumes, so here is some more advice stemming from resumes I've read over the past few days...

  • When you save your resume in word or whatever word processing program you're using, make sure to change the zoom level to 100% first. When my first impression is a 150% sized resume with giant letters, it throws me off a little.

  • Include your educational background, even if you earned your degree 10, 20 or whatever years ago. A lot of companies require a degree, and this will save the step of them e-mailing you and delaying the process. If you're worried about revealing your age, don't be, your experience is going to show that anyhow and it's illegal for anyone to discriminate on that basis.

  • If you have a fun signature on your e-mail, like a quote, make sure it's appropriate or remove it altogether. This sort of goes along with making sure your e-mail address is appropriate for your resume. Pizzagirl89@whatever.com or beautifulstranger@this.com might not be as bad as sexygrrrl45@what.com, but it's still most professional to set up a new e-mail address just for job hunting that is some simple variation on your name. This will also make it easier for the people viewing your resume to go back and find it later. Speaking of which...

  • In the options on your e-mail client, put your name in there, so when you send your e-mails it will display your name then your e-mail address in parenthesis. This will also make it a lot easier for reviewers to know who the e-mail is coming from at a glance, and to find it later if they're looking for it.

  • Be aware that writing in all caps is yelling, and don't use that to try and highlight things in your resume or cover letter.

  • If the job posting asks for a resume & cover letter, at least submit a short cover letter or e-mail that introduces yourself and explains why the job caught your eye.

  • Speaking of cover letters, this is a good place to show your passion, explain why you want the job, or explain anything about your resume that's not self-explanatory (for example, if you took time off working to travel overseas). A cover letter is NOT a good place to talk about your love life (single, married etc.) unless it has a direct bearing on why you're applying (eg you moved to this city b/c your boyfriend/husband got a job here first).

  • Avoid getting too personal. Religion, politics, age, marital status, sexual orientation, favorite authors, movies, and music etc. are all things that don't need to be on your resume.

  • Don't send your picture unless it's been requested for some reason.

  • If you have a cute background with bamboo or notebook spirals, please take it off your e-mail before sending! It will just make your e-mail larger and harder to read, and when recruiters are viewing 100+ resumes a day, it's just another delay.

That's all I have for now. Feel free to share your own tips or ask any questions you might have! Hope this helps some of you.

2 comments:

Jessica Alfieri said...

The last position I was looking to fill only turned up amusing anecdotes, and I ended up canceling the search (due to a real-life recommendation).

Thank god, because all HR could find were the pizzagirl189s of the world, with the balloon-wallpaper backgrounds, and even animated gifs (the one I remember was a banana dancing with a spoon).

It's amazing how many people still can't grasp the basics of emailing a cover letter and resume.

My favorite submission included a headshot. (It was LA, but not even remotely related to the business.)

catherine said...

Some good advice. It is important to be professional whatever the job so do make time to write a good resume and cover letter.

We read all cover letters before resumes so this can be your chance to make a great first impression. Don't waste it!