Is There Something Wrong With My Resume?

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

Is there something wrong with my resume?  I’ve applied to over 100 jobs over the past 6 months and have gotten only a handful of responses which haven’t led anywhere.  I understand that I don’t have a lot of “real world experience,” but I do have an MBA along with 5 internships.  I’m at my wit’s end; any help would be greatly appreciated!

It can be extremely frustrating when you’re putting a lot of time and effort into something, in this case your job search, and getting very little in return.  Let me start by asking a few questions.  What type of positions are you applying to?  Are you sending out a generic resume for each position you are applying to?  What type of networking and self marketing have you done?

Let’s start with the positions that you are applying to.  With 5 internships, you’ve probably accumulated about 1-2 years of “real world experience” so you will want to make sure to target your search for positions that require a degree and require minimal experience.  If you are interested in a position but it’s requiring 5 or more years of experience, I can pretty much guarantee you will not get a call for an interview.  Know your skills.  Make sure the positions that you are applying to are positions that you are qualified.  Often times I have clients wonder why they’re not getting calls on positions they’ve applied to only to find out after some probing that they are applying to positions that “sound like something I’d be good at” but in reality do not have any of the required experience.

Have you changed up your resume for the different types of positions you are applying to or are you sending out the same resume for each
position?  Are you including a cover letter?  In addition to writing a customized cover letter for each position, it’s also very important that you customize your resume for each position that you apply to.  When I say customize, I mean change your heading to the title of the position that you are applying to, change your summary/objective to match the position and make sure your bullet points are showcasing the things that you have done in past positions that make you a strong candidate for the one you are applying to.  You want your resume to be focused.   If you need help, you might want to talk to a professional resume writer for ideas or take a resume writing class that teaches you how to customize your resume for each position.

Have you started networking yet?  No one can market yourself with more passion than you.  Make sure you join professional networks like LinkedIn or professional organizations in your area.  I can’t tell you how often I hear from people who have found their job through networking; myself included.  The last two positions I’ve had were due to being on LinkedIn, the jobs found me.  Don’t be afraid to join groups on LinkedIn or other professional organizations and be active.  These are professionals all there to help each other.  Ask questions and learn from others.

Is there something wrong with your resume?

To have your resume or job search questions answered by Resume Survis Lady, send your questions to: resumesurvislady@gmail.com or on twitter: resumesurvisldy or connect with her directly on LinkedIn by sending her an invite to connect:  resumesurvislady@gmail.com

How Do I Get Started With My Job Search?

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

I’m just starting my job search and not really sure how to get started.  Can you make some suggestions?

The start of a job search can be scary and a bit intimidating but it can also be exciting and a little fun if you do a little research and planning.  There are a lot of questions you need to determine the answers to at the start such as:  Are you staying in the same field?  Are you looking for a lateral move or a promotion?  Are you looking for a higher salary?  Are you open to relocation or do you prefer to commute from your current location?  Is your resume up to date?  Once you have the answers to these questions you are ready to move on to the next step.

The next step in starting a job search is once you’ve determined what you want to do and what type of position you want to target, start doing some research on companies that you are interested in.  When I say research, I don’t just mean going to their website and looking t information and open positions listed there.  I mean also going to LinkedIn and looking up employees that work there.  You will want to take special note of any that appear to be in the field or department you are interested in or Human Resources/Recruiting for later use.  Take a look at their  LinkedIn profiles to find out what their upward mobility has been with the company.  Do they appear to have an upward trajectory or do they seem to be stagnant in their current position?  That will give you a good insight the list of companies you are interested in to 10.

Once you have your top 10 companies identified, the fun begins.  Visit their career websites to see if there are any positions posted that you are qualified and interested in.  While on their career website, check to see if you can create a profile and set up agents to be notified of new  positions as they become available.  Once you’ve found a position, make sure to submit your resume and cover letter, YES COVER LETTER with both of them customized to the position.  Congratulations, you have completed the first step in the application process.

What?  Only the first step?  Yes.  Once you submit an application, you’re not done.  Remember researching LinkedIn to find people that work at the company?  You will want to use that information here.  Use LinkedIn to email those that appear to be a part of the hiring process for the position that you applied to and network with them.  Send them you resume and let them know you are interested in what they do for the company and what the culture is there.  Build a relationship with them.  It’s always a bonus if you have an internal cheerleader!

Best of luck on your job search!

To have your resume or job search questions answered by Resume Survis Lady, send your questions to: resumesurvislady@gmail.com or on twitter: resumesurvisldy or connect with her directly on LinkedIn by sending her an invite to connect:  resumesurvislady@gmail.com

Help!!! Who do I follow up with?

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

I’m totally confused at this point on how and who to follow-up with directly after filling out an application and submitting a resume online.   Aside from following-up with HR to be sure they have your information, what advice can you give on taking it a step further?

Finding out who the hiring manager is and following-up directly with that person seems to be logical, but isn’t always the best scenario. I’ve had some people react very badly (rude and abrupt reaction to a direct call) and that has kind of made me think twice about this approach.

This is a great question and one I get often.  I hear from many clients that they have been told to find out who the hiring manager or decision maker is regarding the position they have applied to and contact them directly.  From my experience working with hiring managers, this is only a good idea if you either know the hiring manager personally or if you have a direct connection to the hiring manager through a friend or acquaintance.  Typically, hiring managers are extremely busy and don’t like dealing with tasks that they consider to be “HR’s” responsibility and that includes communication with candidates and status updates. 

Candidates that have interviewed for a position are a different story.  If you’ve already had an interview with the hiring manager, it’s completely acceptable, in fact I encourage for you to follow up with the hiring manager by sending a Thank You note after your interview thanking them for their time and letting them know your interest level in the position.  Now days, in the age of technology, it’s completely acceptable to  send a Thank You note via email if you have their email address or via professional networking such as LinkedIn.  Once the Thank You note has been sent, your next follow up is with the recruiter or the person that made the initial contact with you for the position.

I got sidetracked, back to the original question of who to follow up with.  If you’ve submitted your resume/application and have not heard anything back after 1-2 weeks, it is acceptable to follow up with the HR department/recruiter to make sure that your application has been received and to ask where your resume is at in the process.  During this initial follow up, I would also ask the recruiter if for future communication they prefer to communicate via email or the phone.  A rule of thumb with this is that if the recruiter’s initial contact with you is via email, they probably prefer to communicate via email and if their initial contact is via phone, they probably prefer phone.  Moving forward, you’ll know which method of communication to use with them.

To have your resume or job search questions answered by Resume Survis Lady, send your questions to: resumesurvislady@gmail.com or on twitter: resumesurvisldy or connect with her directly on LinkedIn by sending her an invite to connect:  resumesurvislady@gmail.com

Addresses on resumes?

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

With everyone using the internet to submit their resume and email to communicate, is it necessary to put my full street address on my resume?

I have to say, this is a question I have never been asked before in my 10+ years of resume writing and recruiting.  I have always included full addresses on resumes that I have written, so I needed to do a bit of research before I felt I could answer this question.

I went through and read everything I could on the pros and cons of including the full address on a resume.  It really is a personal call as to if this information should be included or not.  After I finished reading up on the matter, I asked some hiring managers what their thoughts were regarding addresses on a resume, but more on hiring manager’s views in a moment.  First I will address the cons of including addresses on resumes.

The biggest negative I could find with including addresses is around privacy.  If the resume was to fall into the wrong hands, there’s the possibility that their privacy and/or security could be breached.  I have to admit, the only resumes I have ever seen without an address are those received from an agency recruiter who doesn’t want me to contact the candidate without their knowledge.  The second negative I found was that including the street address on a resume could be seen as being outdated, not technically up to date and instead just be sure to include cell phone, email and LinkedIn profile addresses.  The final con that I was able to find was for candidates that want to relocate to where the position is located and do not want to be removed from the applicant pool based on where they currently live.

By including an address on a resume, you are providing the recruiter and hiring manager a complete picture.  When there are pieces missing off of a resume that are usually there, I start to think that the candidate is trying to hide something and there resume gets extra scrutiny.   I also spoke with a few different hiring managers regarding their views of including or excluding addresses on a resume.  What the overwhelming consensus was is that they want to see the address on the resume.  Without that address, many hours could be spent on the candidate before realizing that relocation might be needed or that the candidate is interviewing with the hope that they will be able to work remote within a few months of starting.

I’m curious as to your thoughts.  Do you currently have your address included on your resume?  Until I have a compelling reason not to, I am going to continue including addresses on the resumes I write for my clients.

To have your resume or job search questions answered by Resume Survis Lady, send your questions to: resumesurvislady@gmail.com or on twitter: resumesurvisldy

The Cover Letter Mystery

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

What do I need to include in my cover letter or is it no longer necessary to have a cover letter?

While a cover letter is not required, it definitely is a nice thing to have.  Think of it like the bow on top of a present.  It’s not something that is required, but it brings everything together and makes it look good.  The same can be said for a cover letter, it pulls together your resume, the position you are applying for and why you are interested in the position.

Now that it’s decided a cover letter is a good idea, what all needs to be included?  First and foremost you are going to want to individualize each cover letter for each position that you apply for.  Remember a few posts back when I talked about key words in resumes?  Well, key words are also important in cover letters.  You will want to make sure that you read, read and re-read the job description of the position that you are applying for, highlighting the key skills that are listed.  Once you have the skills highlighted, you will want to incorporate them into your cover letter and how they match up with your experience. 

Another tip with cover letters is to use the same or similar verbiage in your cover letter that was used in the job description.  Often times when recruiters are searching their database of past applicants, they will use verbiage or phrases used in the job description in their search.  Using their verbiage will help to ensure that your resume comes up in their search.

In addition to skills and keywords taken from the job description, be sure to include why you feel you would be a good fit for the position. If the position would require relocation, state why you’re open to relocation.

Now that you know what needs to be included in your cover letter, time to get busy!

To have your resume or job search questions answered by Resume Survis Lady, send your questions to: resumesurvislady@gmail.com or on twitter: resumesurvisldy

Do I need an Executive Summary?

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

I have been requested by a recruiter to provide an Executive Summary along with my resume for a position that I’m interested in.  What is an executive summary and do I need to provide one for every position that I’m interested in?

An Executive Summary that accompanies a resume is a synopsis of the information listed on your resume.   It typically will list major accomplishments and results that you have achieved and where you would like to go; your potential.   Think of it like a detailed, long winded introduction to your resume.  Many people choose to put an objective at the top of their resume which is like a very short executive summary;  highlighting a few key attributes/skills that they have along with what they are looking for in a position/company.  Now, I’ve done the research on executive summaries, I understand their purpose, and as a resume writer I’ll write one for you if you request it.  As a recruiter, I think a cover letter is much more effective, customized to each individual position that you apply to outlining specifically what you will bring to the job you are applying to.  The key take away being to make sure you customize for each position you are applying for.  I see multiple resumes a day where the objective or cover letter very obviously has not been updated for the position the candidate is applying to.  Often times I will get cover letters referencing the wrong position title and even the wrong company.   As a recruiter or a hiring manager looking at the submission, I have to wonder how serious the candidate is about the position if they did not take the time to proof read their submission. 

As a job seeker; make sure you are aware of the position you applying for, the qualifications that are being requested from the job description and customize as applicable.  Make sure your resume reflects what it is the job description is asking for and if you do decide to submit a “generic” resume, make sure that you take out anything that was specific to a previous position applied to.