Resume and cover letter - How good are yours?

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
As Bill suggests, many of us unconsciously let our emotions cloud our performance. Folks say, "Dogs can smell fear on a human." The same can be said for the pit bulls who purposedly try to make the recruiting process a trip through he!! for the job candidates.

I'm never completely sure whether the horrific attitude some recruiters and job interviewers project is due to
  • ignorance
  • intent
I have seen some folks I thought were pretty stable and well-grounded come out of interviews in tears after being subjected to a vicious stress interview.

I've also seen folks come out of interviews mad enough to kick stray cats and children after being mauled by incompetent, wishy washy interviewers who had no clue of how to conduct an interview.

SOLUTIONS:
There are tactics to deal with each kind of interview.
  • When the interviewer is mean and vicious, just stop the interview, get up and leave. Why continue to subject yourself to stress from a mean bully? Even if you are a karate champion, you prefer to run rather than stand up to a gang of toughs in a dark alley. Think of it this way - even if you win the battle of wits against an idiot, you still won't get the job. If you could get the job, would you really want to work for an organization that hired pit bulls to do its recruiting?
    .
  • When the interviewer is just clueless and disorganized, it is time to consider taking subtle control of the interview, always coming back to the main topic when the interviewer goes off in some stream of consciousness reverie. I think there are many more clueless interviewers than venal ones. Everything else about the position and the company may be fine. If you've really done your research, you'll know the incompetent interviewer is just an anomoly. It is to your benefit to help that interviewer understand you are the answer he's been looking for.
The million dollar question:
"How do I know which is which and learn how to deal with each kind?"

Bill is right about one thing -
"I went from manufacturing to non-manufacturing and found many commonalities. As a matter of fact, I found out that business is business and skills and knowledge are transferrable between the two."

If you do a good enough job of preliminary research on the hiring organization, you can structure your resume and the answers to interview questions to focus on the skills, talent, and experience needed for the position.

Ultimately, only the job candidate can determine whether he is like a Famous Footwear chain store or like a custom shoe and bootmaker.

  • The Famous Footwear store can only sell what's in stock - no special orders. If you don't like what they have in your size, your only option is to go to another store.
    .
  • The customer shoemaker will make you a perfect set of shoes or boots, regardless of your requirements.
 

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
I don't put faith in them, but . . .

So, today I happened to come across a horoscope. Since I don't subscribe to the astrology thing, I have no faith in them, so it doesn't make any difference whether it is mine or yours. These are always "cold reads" because people fill in the blanks to make them "fit." In any regard, make this one fit your situation and you may have a happier weekend.

Your flexibility is your greatest asset. While other people spend their time complaining about the change of pace, you welcome it with open arms. You have more of a 'when life gives you lemons, make lemonade' attitude than most people do. Your boss or parents might think that you can't possibly accomplish everything that you set out to do today, but as long as you keep your head down, you should be able to make sufficient -- and maybe even impressive -- progress.
Resume and cover letter - How good are yours?
 

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Leader
Admin
Thanks Bill, I will say I do know I sound defeatist at times. I wondered who would say that and when.

I think I didn't do a good job in communicating. I did not mean to knock those with degrees--I have one too. My intended point was that I do not like the assumption that the MBA degree is what candidates must have, and organizations do not consider other experience/education as relevant.

But that's all right. Perhaps there are plenty of MBAs to fill the needs of those around here who advertise for them.

It is important to remember that the best opportunity never gets posted in an ad. When I progress to a time and place where I can find my correct path, it won't be through an ad but will be through the new work and activities I'm doing since leaving manufacturing. This takes time.

It's true that I have managed well enough to a point, though not finishing what I'd started as I'd hoped. I've accomplished some things and their results are not necessarily ended.

Nor is the story over. There is still progress to be made, and as Wes has correctly said there is a crack open somewhere to slip through.

I believe there are forces not completely of our making at work, and I do agree I can improve my self-marketing. If a better marketing job would have sold me, like a banana split to someone who is sure they want a hot fudge sundae, then I do accept that responsibility.
 

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
Jennifer Kirley said:
It is important to remember that the best opportunity never gets posted in an ad. When I progress to a time and place where I can find my correct path, it won't be through an ad but will be through the new work and activities I'm doing since leaving manufacturing. This takes time.


Nor is the story over. There is still progress to be made, and as Wes has correctly said there is a crack open somewhere to slip through.

I believe there are forces not completely of our making at work, and I do agree I can improve my self-marketing. If a better marketing job would have sold me, like a banana split to someone who is sure they want a hot fudge sundae, then I do accept that responsibility.
Jennifer makes some important points here that are worthwhile for any job seeker to consider:
  1. the best opportunity never gets posted in an ad.
    (absolutely - the best opportunity is the one that is created when you demonstrate a need to an employer (that he may or may not have been aware of) and then show how YOU can fulfill that need.)
  2. the story isn't over [when you seem to hit a dead end] - there is a crack open somewhere to slip through.
    (Often a job candidate is forced to make compromises. Only the candidate is in a position to make a value judgment of the various options and to choose the best compromise.)
  3. I can improve my self-marketing.
    (We can all improve our self-marketing. Job hunting is all about self-marketing. Employers can often choose among numerous candidates. The successful candidate is the one who makes the best use of cover letter, resume, interview, and focus on the task at hand (getting hired) to convince the employer to make a decision to be swayed by that combination of market features.)
 
Last edited:
P

Phil P

Hi Wes,

Just a quick message to say that I have read both this and the other employment thread, and found the information extremely interesting. I'm considering seeking new employment in the new year and no doubt the tips that you have provided will help. :thanx:

I'm sure many others are reading the threads with interest.
 

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
Phil P said:
Hi Wes,

Just a quick message to say that I have read both this and the other employment thread, and found the information extremely interesting. I'm considering seeking new employment in the new year and no doubt the tips that you have provided will help. :thanx:

I'm sure many others are reading the threads with interest.
I sure hope you are correct, Phil. Thus, here's a snippet I picked up from a VERY WELL RESPECTED outplacement firm in Chicago. I'm taking advantage of "fair use" here because this is information the company WANTS potential job seekers to read. The bold face emphasis is mine, because it fits the general theme of our two threads:
[broken link]
Out of Work?
In order to enter one of our outplacement programs, we require sponsorship by an employee’s company. The reason we cannot accept people without corporate sponsorship is that we cannot overcome the awkward ethical/functional dilemma inherent in working with an 'unsponsored' individual.

Good outplacement requires the freedom to counsel the client even when their wants conflict with their needs. In a 'retail' relationship, both parties are either consciously or subconsciously prone to define the client as a customer and therefore the ultimate arbiter of what is right or wrong tactically.

This problem is compounded by the fact that searching for a new position is about failure all the way until the end of the program when a job offer is secured. You don’t get an offer for two thirds of a job, and no one can say: 'You are now 67% completed in your job search.' This means that a 'retail' client is paying for a lot of failure and this failure is a frustration for both sides.

There is no easy recommendation or solution for your needs. James E. Challenger, our founder and the founder of the outplacement industry, has written a book Secrets of the Job Hunt which can be purchased by calling our office. Our best advice is to maintain discipline over the three variables you can control: (i) Who you see, (ii) How often you see people and, (iii) What you say when you are in front of them. These are the only parts of the search process you can control. Good luck in your search.

James Challenger, the founder of this company, has stated in many interviews (which I've heard and/or read) his belief that many job seekers hinder their effort by failing to SELL the employer on the candidate because they do not give concrete examples of the value of their skills, experience, and talents. (Sound familiar?)

In the Quality arena, we constantly talk about DOCUMENTATION versus ANECDOTAL "SMOKE" in demonstrating conformance to requirements. This theme doesn't change just because we switch from dealing with products to dealing with humans in determining whether they "conform to requirements."

As I looked through the Challenger website, I came across this eight page document I hadn't seen before.
[broken link]
It echoes many of the things we have written in our two threads. It's nice to have some validation from a professional firm like Challenger.

One striking quote from page 4:
"Once you have created a list of contacts and job leads, the next step is to begin making phone calls to arrange interviews. In each call, your goal is to contact an “action person,” someone who can see you and then offer you a job.

Contact the hiring authority, not HR. Human Resources rarely makes the final hiring decision, unless the job opening is in that department. The heads of the various departments determine when new people are needed, so it is critical to get their names. If you want to work in sales, then get the name of the head of sales.

The best way to obtain a manager’s name is simply by calling the company. (Avoid telling the switchboard the call is about a job or else face transfer to Human Resources)."
 
Last edited:

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
Time for change

When "change agents" of my acquaintance talk about the change process, one thing many agree about is the need to have an organization-wide dissatisfaction with the status quo.

If you are unemployed or thinking about changing jobs (or even careers), you need to take your own temperature to see how "hot" you are for change. If you've been unsuccessful in your job hunt so far, maybe it's time you became dissatisfied with your present process in job hunting and consider something different.

Many folks like to start with a fresh slate for the new year. You won't get the full effect of the new one if you keep the old, scratched-up one around as a type of security blanket.

Lots of companies are announcing new initiatives for the coming year. That means staff changes and additions. Get in the swim and ferret out these opportunites BEFORE the companies get around to placing job ads. That way, you'll have a head start on the competition!

I'd like to hear what's working for you and whether any of the tips in this thread have been helpful.
 

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
As if we didn't have enough to worry about

So, I casually picked up my morning paper and turned to the business section to read the latest court updates of the big corporate fraud cases and opened the page to this story: (emphasis in blue is mine)
Carol Kleiman said:
Fretting over a resume?
It may soon go way of the dinosaur

Published February 3, 2005, Chicago Tribune

Resumes are a vital part of the job search, and putting together the perfect portrayal of your skills and abilities is one of the hardest things job seekers have to do.

And sorting through them is one of the toughest tasks employers have.

That's why one human resource professional has come up with a dramatic solution to the resume problem: Get rid of them in their present form.

"As we look at today's recruiting demands, the resume has not kept pace," said Joseph P. Murphy, principal and vice president of Shaker Consulting Group, a management consulting firm in Cleveland that specializes in employee selection.

The firm designs programs for companies that want to automate their recruitment process.

"Resumes contain the wrong type of information," said Murphy, who has been in human resources for 25 years. The consultant is on the board of the Northern Ohio Human Resource Planning Society and a member of the workforce staffing and deployment panel of the Society for Human Resource Management. He points out that computerized recruitment is growing daily.

Since 1998, when his company began designing computerized programs for job applicants that can be scored and measured, Murphy has predicted the end of the resume as we know it.

He recently wrote an article on the subject that appeared on HR.com, a Web site for senior human resource professionals.

"We should do away with resumes as a selection criteria or screening tool," Murphy said.

From the point of view of the job seeker, the consultant says resumes do not allow you to present your real achievements.

"When you apply for a job online, you have to use certain key words to show up in search engines, and the result is that you are measured not for your ability, but for your word choices," he said. And you don't have an opportunity to point out your individual value, abilities or achievements.

Murphy knows job seekers agonize and labor endlessly over their resumes.

"A lot of soul gets poured into writing them," he observed. "Many people get professional help in creating a resume, and when they do, the resume is a reflection of their coach's writing skills, not theirs."

And the nitty-gritty of what will make you a valued employee is lost in the process.

With online job applications taking over recruitment, Murphy reports that his company has "clients who do not even see a resume at the front end but ask for them at the back end when the job offer is about to be made."

Instead of relying on the "outdated paper resume," Murphy says many firms now use a standardized questionnaire tailored to each job.

The questionnaires are posted on the Internet, given by phone through an 800 number or filled out by applicants who are invited to come to the company's offices and use its computer programs on site.

"Employers get more information that way than resumes would ever give them," he said.

Other technical programs replacing the resume that now are being used to measure skills and personalities include a simulated work sample, situational judgments, biographical data and work styles.

"Because they're still a stagnant paper document, and we have so many emerging technological solutions, resumes eventually will disappear," Murphy concluded.

----------

Carol Kleiman's columns also appear in Monday's and Tuesday's Business sections. Hear her on WBBM Newsradio 780 at 6:21 p.m. and 10:22 p.m. Mondays and 11:20 a.m. Saturdays. Watch her "Career Coach" segments on CLTV. E-mail [email protected].
Remember that Murphy is in the business of selling these computer sorting programs to management. It is his job to make it as tasteful and appealing as possible. Kleiman is a columnist, not a reporter. She does not have a duty to dig out both sides of a story for a balanced presentation. (Essentially, she has merely reproduced a press release from Murphy.)
  • How does this article strike you as an employee?
  • as an employer?
  • Do you see this "future" as good?
  • bad?
  • Do you see it as inevitable?
  • Do you think it will reach high on the corporate ladder into management suites or do you think it will stay strictly at the staff level?
I'd like to read your comments.
 
M

mooser

Wes,
I think anytime there is a evolving process, as this is, I believe it to be a good start. Employees & employer should use there creative minds to come with better presentation forms of self & their needs. We would all be better off if we were in a job that is fulfilling to the employee & employer as well. This is what is being attempted in this article. I also think future employees should be about presenting ourselves in a realistic way to future employees.
Am I being to idealistic? Well maybe its about time before the world just passes us by and we go around from job to job clueless (if we can even keep a job).

Mooser
 
T

The Fast One

On being presented with in excess of 400 CV's I immediately reduced the decision making process by throwing half of them in the bin. The rationale being that I wouldn't want to give the job to anyone who was unlucky...
 
Top Bottom