As I have said earlier, most people look down the wrong end of the telescope when it comes to reasons why they can’t get that job. They mistakenly blame things like the economy and their age. But the thing that lets most people down is their application. You see, the point of a good cover letter and résumé is to secure the interview.
I am writing this article to discuss a few gospel truths and dispelling wrong myths as usual.
A. First of all we must be clear about the resume and its objective.
B. What are the most desirable qualities for job seekers in the workplace? Your resume must convey that you carry all these essential attributes. I am giving herebelow the following list of in-demand skills
- The One and Only One Purpose of the resume is to win an interview. If it does that, it worked. If it doesn’t, it isn’t an effective resume.
- A resume is an advertisement, nothing more, nothing less. A great resume doesn’t just tell them what you have done but makes the same assertion that all good ads do: If you buy this product, you will get these specific, direct benefits. It presents you in the best light. It convinces the employer that you have what it takes to be successful in this new position or career.
- It is so pleasing to the eye that the reader is enticed to pick up and read it. It "whets the appetite," stimulates interest in meeting you and learning more about you. It inspires the prospective employer to pick up the phone and ask you to come in for an interview.
- It’s not an official personnel document. It’s not a job application. It’s not a "career obituary!" Your resume is YOUR marketing tool, not a personnel document. The resume is a selling tool outlining your skills and experience... It is about YOU the job hunter, not just about the jobs you’ve held. It’s not just about past jobs!
- A good resume predicts how you might perform in that desired future job.It focuses on your future, not your past.
- It emphasizes your accomplishments, not your past job duties or job descriptions
- It documents skills you enjoy using, not skills you used just because you had to.
- Willingness to share information and ideas.
- Commitment to teamwork.
- Responsiveness to change.
- Ability to work under pressure.
- Sense of ownership of work and ideas.
- Willingness to take calculated risks, without fear of consequences.
- Multicultural experience and/or ability to speak multiple languages.
- Ability to communicate clearly and honestly with peers, managers, customers.
- Understanding of business strategy and how you create shareholder value.
- Commitment to continuous learning, skill development.
Ample presence of these attributes in your resume will give a positive aura to your profile.
We have talked about the purpose of resume and what are the most desirable qualities an employer looks for in a candidate. Let us now move to more things which are essential
C. Bad Transportation of resume: A lot of candidates send their applications to the placement consultants and companies via email with multiple recipients in the "to:", "cc:" or "bcc:" fields. ALMOST ALL BIG JOBSITES having national or international presence broadcast your resume via email with multiple recipients in the "to:", "cc:" or "bcc:" fields. These big jobsites also flash your resume from their site’s e-mail ID to another of their own e-mail IDs. Now this is criminal. You are deliberately killing yourself in job market - it could be career Hara Kiri or career killing by these jobsites, where you pay for your own COLD BLOODED MURDER. Resumes received this way are treated as spam (i.e. deleted). Over 90% Placement consultants and recipient companies delete them because they feel that:
- You are TOO DESPERATE FOR A JOB and you have mailed your resume to every Tom, Dick and Harry in business. A placement consultant doesn’t want to waste his time for the applicant whose resume is widely circulated in the placement circuit like the eye flu.
- You are desperate because you are UNEMPLOYED/ UNDEREMPLOYED.
- You are Unemployed / under-employed because you are HIGHLY INCOMPETENT.
- You are highly incompetent and hence a PARIAH.
- You are a pariah and hence your resume deserves IMMEDIATE DELETION.
- This immediate deletion could be at the server end through SPAMGUARDS or MANUALLY in his DESKTOP
D. Essentials in the Subject Title
As a placement consultant, I receive a lot of resumes. Candidates generally do not give any importance to the subject title and their resume also does not get any attention from the recruiters. Like the cover letter the subject title is an under-utilised resource. The following titles from recent posts are losers:
If your title is similar, nobody will bother to read further, because you have done nothing to distinguish yourself from the crowd. Furthermore, you have shown no imagination or initiative. Why would I hire you? One of the best titles I have seen recently was similar to:
Why is this so good? This person thought about the title and told me in eight words that he/she
- has experience,
- experience is in Brand Management,
- experience is in Brand Management is in Dabur,
- wants a Brand Management or related job,
- is only interested in Mumbai
Not only can this person communicate effectively, he/she is decisive.
After being clear on the purpose of resume, knowing what an employer seeks in a candidate, Transportation hiccups and subject title, let’s talk a little more about the cover letter. Cover letter is an extra page you can add to your résumé that takes the focus off your past and places it on your potential. The fact is, your skills and experiences can qualify you for other jobs in other industries but your job titles in the past can stereotype you. An imaginative cover letter helps to break that cycle.
Lacking in experience? Are you? Thanks to your new cover letter, a few simple changes to your résumé will put you in the race for jobs that may require more experience than you already have.
There is one more thing you need to get that job.
Here are a few tips to help you produce a superior cover letter.
1. Address the issue in your cover letter. State clearly your interest in changing industries. Express your knowledge of the industry and its challenges. Point out how your background experiences make you a great candidate. If you are seemingly overqualified, demonstrate your value: better perspective, more patient, and extensive industry knowledge.
2. If transitioning to a new industry, focus your resume on your transferable skills rather than routine responsibilities. Back up your transferable skills with illustrative accomplishments. Translate industry-specific jargon into general terminology. Give less "white space" to company names if they are commonly connected with your industry. White space is just what it sounds like: white area around words. Words or phrases surrounded by white space stand out and attract the eye.
Simplify facts: A cover letter is not an autobiography. It should be short and sweet, brief and to the point. The cover letter and resume should demonstrate that you meet or exceed the requirements listed in the job description, that you are interested in the position, and that you are available. Any additional information is superfluous.A cover letter should have three to four paragraphs, no paragraphs of over six lines long, with the longest one being the middle one or two, and the shortest one being the final, summation paragraph.
Poor Grammar and, Misspellings a Big NO NO: No one wants to make grammatical or spelling errors but many applicants nevertheless submit cover letters with small and thoughtless, yet deadly, errors. Many problems slip through because people have a difficult time seeing the mistakes in their own writing. So ask someone else to proof-read the cover letter for you. If that’s not possible, read the document aloud, slowly and word by word. Every time you make a correction, read the whole document over again. Spell checks can also be typo insinuations, causing writers to change misspelled words into wrong words, as demonstrated by one cover letter writer who boasted that "Referees are available on request."
NO negatives: It’s been said that no politician ever lost an election over a speech that wasn’t made. Don’t lose the election. This is not the place to explain why you left or are leaving an employer.
No Ego-maniacal tone: A golden rule for cover letter writing: make sure that by the time you’ve finished your writing, the person most impressed by your letter isn’t you. This is an opportunity for you to give employers an idea of who you are, what you’ve accomplished and how you can contribute to their company. Nobody likes a self-absorbed narcissist, and even fewer less people want to work with one.
Avoid providing a salary history and salary details: A salary history is more likely to cost you a job than not.
Make your cover letter easy on the eyes: It should be easy to scan and have a logical progression.
Don’t repeat your resume. Your cover letter is not a summary of your resume - it will be counterproductive.
Don’t repeat worn platitudes and clichés: Experienced HRD people who are actually gatekeepers are being paid by the companies to reject the majority of resume ( HRD gatekeepers shall be discussed in great details after the next issue). know that almost every candidate promises "excellent written and verbal communication skills", and the ability to "think outside the box" and "juggle multiple tasks" while walking and chewing gum or paan. Be different.
Offer a solution to their problem: Most employers hire people because the employer needs to accomplish a task—not because they want to provide employment opportunities to the public. Your cover letter should be solution-centric; not "I" centered. Keep the "I would like" stuff to a minimum.
Personalize your cover letter if possible: Your cover letter should be addressed to a specific person whenever identifying information is available. Form letters insult the reviewer’s intelligence and indicate that the writer is broadcasting her resume to every employer or has not made an effort to learn more about the company. Generic/canned cover letters can lead to failure. Even if you do not know the name of the recipient, if you conduct basic research, you can customize the cover letter to suit the position and the company. Tell the reader that you are interested in the company and the position, and why.
It’s the sentiment that counts: When you tell potential employers why you’re interested in working for them and their companies, be sincere. Don’t bother pouring on a bunch of flattering statements. If you’re interested in a position or company, just say why.
"Samsung India’s increasing stake in the booming consumer electronics market makes this position intriguing indeed."
"I’ve admired your company"s products for some time, especially the Samton 56V."
"You have the most fabulous company ever and it would be the culmination of my life dream to work with you."
"I would DIE to work at Samsung India Electronics Ltd."
A sample cover letter
Your residence address
Your Tel no.
Your e-mail ID
Contact name, Contact job title and deptt.
Contact company, Company address, Company tel no.
Company e-mail ID
Dear Mr/ Ms/ contact,
The first paragraph tells why you are contacting this person, then either mentions your connection with that person or tells about where you read about this job. It also quickly states who you are. Next it impresses them with your sincere, researched knowledge of their company. The goal is to demonstrate that you are a worthy applicant and attracting or luring them to read further.
The second paragraph tells them more about yourself, particularly why you are an ideal match for the job by summarizing why you’re what they are looking for. You may also clarify anything unclear in your resume.
The third paragraph is an optional extension of the second paragraph
The last paragraph is your goodbye. You thank the reader for his time. Include that you look forward to their reply or give them a time when you’ll be getting in contact by phone.