Saturday, January 30, 2010
The Job Search: Putting On Your Best Face
I've been talking the past few weeks about the steps that any successful job seeker should be taking including internships, networking, and mentors. It occurred to me yesterday as I was talking with one of my advisees at Curry College that there is at least one other step in the process...getting your materials prepared for the outreach.
Resumes and cover letters usually are your first formal introduction to a prospective employer, and how you present yourself can make or break the deal. I remember helping a client conduct a search for a senior print production director a few years ago. One application packet still stands out in my mind, sent in by a fellow who actually was a senior print production director and was looking for a more challenging job.
We opened the envelope and took out the cover letter and resume. The first thing we noticed was that the ink was somewhat smudged...oops! Then we noticed that, on the lines where the paper had been folded, the ink had actually cracked! Wow!
We decided we had to call him in for an interview if only to find out what he was...or was not...thinking!
His response when we pointed out the two things we had noticed: "Oh yes, I saw those things, but I wanted to get my materials to you quickly and didn't want to take more time to reprint them."
"So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye!" (Thank you, Julie Andrews and The Sound of Music!)
College students in particular have a wealth of resources to draw on including their Career Services offices and...yes...their professors, many of whom are or were working professionals who (a) conducted their own job searches in the course of their careers or (b) oversaw job searches to fill positions in their own organizations.
Working professionals who are looking to make a career move also have resources on which they can call, including career placement professionals, executive recruiters, and others. This is also where networks and mentors can come in handy...let someone else look at and criticize your work.
Better to be told right away that your resume has a word misspelled than to spend the next six months sending out resumes and wondering why you're not getting any interviews. I received a resume from someone a few weeks ago who was getting a little frustrated with her job search. I glanced it over and noticed that, in a previous job, she had held the position of Public Relations Manger. Now, unless she's looking for a job as a "Nativity Director," it's going to be tough to convince a potential employer that she has the professional communication skills he or she needs!
Bottom line...get your materials together (resume, cover letter, support documents) and let someone else take a look. A job search isn't something you do between bites of your ham sandwich. It's a job in and of itself and, just like in a job, if you want to move ahead, you have to show that you have the skills and abilities required.
Or, as my students so often like to say in their papers... "You defiantly [aka: definitely] have to show your attention to detail"! Good hunting!