In my last post, I gave advice to new grads as a fellow job-seeker who had just left the job market. As my new position has a significant recruitment portion, I have spent much of the last two weeks sorting through resumes, many of which are for an entry-level position. My advice from my last post is still ringing in my head, so I wanted to add a little bit more to it, especially after looking through all the resumes which are being sent to me.
Have someone else proofread for you. I really had no idea that people still needed this advice, but given the 100+ resumes I scanned this week, it is evident that there is much work to be done. I understand how there is something painful about exposing yourself this way; resumes, despite their purpose, still feel deeply personal, and giving a resume over to a friend or relative to edit can ignite feelings of fear or vulnerability. I certainly felt the same way giving mine over to be read- but I did it, and I benefitted from it. Spell-check can’t help you if you don’t know how to use a hyphen, comma, or semi-colon.
Pay attention to your formatting, and be aware of what other formats (plain text, for example) will do to your resume. I received several resumes where there was a definite lack of consistent spacing and consistent format. The writers came across to me as careless and not detail-orientated. I know with my resume, I noticed that some formatting I had done (changes to margins, certain fonts) would translate to an uneven, weird-looking resume. In one case, I noticed my name (in large, bold font) came out looking like comic book writing- not what I was going for. It’s important to be aware, and always check what you resume looks like if you importing it into resume software.
Don’t get too personal. I was shocked by the amount of cover letters I received which divulged significant personal details (the recent loss of a loved one, a bad breakup). I don’t know if perhaps there are other recruiters who might be unfazed by this, but I would definitely recommend erring on the side of caution when including personal details. A cover letter should convey enthusiasm and personality without making the recruiter feel like they are listening in on a private phone call.
On that note, now I’ll get personal (but this is different, you get that, right?). I wanted to include a few more inspirational thoughts for my last post, which upon re-reading I was concerned came off a more negatively than I had hoped.
I was in a particularly desperate place towards what turned out to be the end of my job search. I believe that there is a certain part of your identity that comes from the work you do, and lacking that piece of identity, especially in the long term, can start to damage your own self-image. I was in a recruiter’s office, waiting to be interviewed, when I saw a quote on the wall which said “the silence is still a part of the music”. I found it to be a comforting thought when considering my own job search, and the larger issue of my own self-image, and I wanted to share it. It can be hard in that moment of silence to appreciate it for what it is, but when the music starts up again you understand its significance.
A mentor of mine tried to convey this idea to me as well when I went to him around the same time to talk about how miserable I was feeling. He seemed surprised that I could have imagined the job search any other way. “Of course you’re unhappy, and of course it’s hard and it’s taking forever,” he said, “how else will you know to appreciate it once it’s over?”.
Agony and Elation: Searching for Work in a Turbulent Job Market, by Nicole Davidson
Branding is About More Than Having a LinkedIn Profile by Geraldine Sangalang, CHRP