Write Resumes That Get Callbacks — Page 2 of 2

Honesty is always prized and fairly easy to detect. Efforts at fudging experience, education, references and honors are easily detectible if there is any interest in your application. An honest person with less experience is always preferred over someone who wants to pull the wool over the recruiter’s eye. But honesty doesn’t require you to hit a recruiter over the head with details that aren’t necessarily relevant unless you are asked specifically to go into them during an interview. If a piece of information doesn’t fit into the categories mentioned in Section 2, above, don’t agonize about trying to call attention to them in your resume.

4. Don’t Get Cute, Please!

That is, unless you are applying for the R&D department of a toy company known for making unbearably cute toys. Nothing is more annoying to a recruiter — or suggestive or an unprofessional attitude — than efforts at cuteness or intimacy in a resume or cover letter. At all cost, please avoid using cute pastel stationery with pictures of kittens or butterflies! The last thing you want to convey at this stage is immaturity and an unprofessional self-image. If you are one of those unfortunate people with a horrible weakness for cuteness, save it for your kids or significant other.

5. Have Someone Else Check Your Resume

You may be a wonderful writer, speller, typist and layout artist, but when you are done, do yourself a huge favor and ask a friend or associate whose intelligence, judgment and objectivity you respect to check your resume for obvious errors, typos, organizational problems and inconsistencies. A resume is a very personal piece of writing because it attempts to encapsulate your professional life. Like all personal writing, a resume is subject to a certain amount of blindness, personal biases and embarrassing solecisms. By spending a few minutes to get it reviewed by another person, you will probably get suggestions that will improve it immeasurably. Every incremental improvement in your resume could save you weeks of waiting for the right callback.

6. Always Include a Cover Letter

I know it isn’t strictly logical to deduct points from applicants who send in resumes without cover letters, but I find myself doing just that time and again. It’s human nature for even the recruiters of the largest, least impersonal-seeming companies, to want some sign that the applicant has taken a personal interest in sending in her resume. The easiest and most effective way to do that is to write a brief cover letter enclosing the resume. Address the letter to the name of the head of the human resources department or the specific division for which you are applying. If you don’t have those names, address it to “Human Resources Director” or similar title. It isn’t important that the title is precisely accurate, as long as the address is correct.

Dear Sir/Madam is a perfectly wonderful salutation if you don’t have the person’s name. “To whomever it may concern” is awful. It sounds like you have absolutely no respect for whoever will be reviewing your resume. Whenever I see it, I feel the impulse to toss the resume into the reject pile on grounds that it shows bad judgment and a lack of manners.

The body of the letter, should include a sentence or two explaining the reason for your particular interest in the company and in the position desired. If it would be helpful, you might want to add another paragraph indicating the best way to contact you for an interview. Keep the letter simple, but make sure it shows that you have given some thought to the company to which you are applying. It takes a few extra minutes, but again, those minutes are well invested as they will help ensure that your resume makes it into the callback stack.

7. Follow Up with a Call or a Letter

In my experience most resumes receive attention from the human resources department, especially in today’s job market. But often the ball is dropped after your resume makes the initial cut into the short stack. It may sit there for some time before it receives the attention it deserves from the appropriate executive. That is why it is important for you to make a follow up call if you haven’t heard anything within 1-2 weeks of sending in your resume. Your follow-up call also lets the recruiter know that you remain interested in the position and may prod her into at least paying personal attention to your resume. When you call, always ask when you can expect a response, then promise to call back again if you don’t receive a response by that date. Then keep that promise. Many interviews for good jobs are obtained through this kind of polite persistence. It’s the only way to ensures that your resume gets the full attention it deserves in a far from perfect world. Prev

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