Think of the classifieds list as a starting point for your research, not as an open door. If apply for a job, but you don not know the name of the lead, hiring manager or someone on the team then your job application is around 99 percent likely to be ignored. If you are exactly what they are looking for this does not apply, but most people apply for jobs like the rest of us play bingo.
If you are spending too much time applying for jobs and not enough time researching the companies that you are applying for jobs at then you need to stop doing that right now.
Over the last few days I have pored over hundreds of applications for job openings. I am baffled by one application where someone applied for a job at a company that has less than 10 people. On top of this little detail, it is a company without an HR Manager. Despite all of this, the applicant started their cover letter like this: “Dear HR Manager”. This is outrageous! Did they think that HR would be pleased and give them the job? Hell no!
Cover letters are a complete waste of your time if you are not going to bother to write something original. Two to three sentences that are concise and direct without a “Dear anyone” is better than a 500 word blob of something for everyone. Save yourself and the people reading your cover letters the time.
1. You will will a few points if you state where you heard about the job in your email or cover letter (often the same as your email).
2. Bonus points if you write a note that is creative, free of errors, and that shows that you were interested enough in the company to check out their website or free trial if the company makes software.
3. Take the time to figure out who the lead or manager on the team is. Now you can personalize instead of saying “Dear HR Manager”. Bonus points if you can find someone who knows you both that is willing to make an intro. You might even point out a hobby that you share with them. With all of the social media options available today there is absolutely no excuse for not taking the time to do this. Ok maybe if you are applying for a job at the DMV. Seriously. And take the time to write someone a note – find them on LinkedIn or Facebook or even Twitter. It is hard to find some people, but it is even harder pounding your head into the brick wall that doesn’t give back to you that is represented by most job boards and online classified listing systems.
4. Use MS Word for your resume and save things in a common font like Times New Roman, Arial, Garamond, etc. Turn off HTML. Your resume IS NOT a website. Don’t get creative and try to turn your resume into a work of art. Save that for your portfolio page online where you can control how things look. If someone uses Internet Explorer 6 there there isn’t much you can do, but you can at least assume provide warning if you feel the need. Even if you use MS Word, should save your resume as a .PDF file. The reason is that you don’t want the format to get all screwed up when it gets opened or copied and pasted. Make sure your resume looks right – no blank page 2. You would not believe how often I see this.