June 30, 2005

Cover Letter: More Background

You've probably heard that you only have 10 seconds to grab the attention of the reader. That's true. Once they start reading your cover letter the clock is ticking. But some decisions about the quality of your cover letter are made even before the reading begins.

Is the paper it is printed on clean and bright? Is the letter formatted and addressed properly? Did the candidate hand sign the document?

Paper choice for your cover letter and resume is important. Obvious attempts at attention grabbing are usually viewed as unnecessary. Printing on Yellow, Pink, or Tan paper doesn't make you more qualified for the position. Instead, chose your paper based on its weight - 24lb minimum / 30lb maximum - and brightness - 94 minimum. If thosefigures don't make sense to you, ask the helpful folks at OfficeMax or OfficeDepot and they'll help you out.

I know a question you're dying to ask -- is laserprinting, which usually means a trip to Kinko's, required? Not anymore. These days there are high DPI (600DPI and up) inkjet printers that will do the job just fine. Just watch for smearing.

If you've read Malcom Gladwell's Blink : The Power of Thinking Without Thinking then you know how decisions are made in a split second. Don't give the screener a reason to 'blink' you into the circular file.

June 29, 2005

Cover Letter: form follows purpose

The Cover letter is your initial sales piece. Its purpose is to get your resume past the initial screener and, once in the hands of the right person, to show you're a capable, productive, and intelligent candidate for the position. When you keep that in mind, the form of the cover letter follows naturally.

To show you're capable, the document must answer the questions asked in the job description, indicate where you found the listing, and show that you're a match. To prove your productivity, you must list your accomplishments in a manner the person doing the hiring will understand. To show your intelligent, you must have perfect grammar and spelling and be persuasive.

To repeat: cover letters are your primary sales piece about you. They should list your top accomplishments, special experience related to this job, and why you’re right for the company. And they should do it in a manner that is as creative, brief, and compact as possible. I've read so many boring coverletters from marketing professionals, designers, human resource managers, sales people. These positions require creativity and sales ability, you have to put that in the coverletter too.

Your Resume Upgrade Station

This blog is the direct agglomeration of my personal experience dealing with Resumes, Coverletters, Job Searches, and Career choices. I worked for 6 years at a personnel placement company that specialized in human resources positions. Although not in a HR position myself, I learned what a recruiter looked for in a resume, the purpose of a coverletter, and the best practices in a job search, from the best managers, recruiters, and personnel specialists in the industry.

Over the years that knowledge has been very useful to me in finding new positions. I frequently receive requests from friends and family to review their resumes, which I am happy to do. So the time has come to formalize that knowledge. As you can see, I'm taking advantage of the unique publishing platform that is the weblog to do so. I hope this will be as successful a merging of information and technology, form and function, as your resume should be.

My mission is that you, the reader, should be able to find useful hints, clear instructions, and hard facts that will help you promote yourself into the next job in your career path. I realize I am not the end point of all knowledge when it comes to resumes, coverletters, and job searches, so I'll also be providing pointers to other resources that I have found useful. I'm sure you will to.

So welcome one and all to the Resume Upgrade blog. Now let's forge a path to your future.