So, I'm looking for a new position. Hopefully one that will be engaging and give me a career path to follow once my current main job (Mom) moves out in a couple of years. One that doesn't hold my middle-age or my above average midsection against me.
I'm a little nervous. My mom got laid off when she was roughly the age I am now and it took her 3 years to find a new position. I have a kid going to college soon - 3 years is not an acceptable search period in my world.
Also, I was stuck in the bookstore for three hours tonight because the teen wanted a less distracting environment in which to pound out her first college essay for her dual-credit Comp I class. It seemed a logical use of my time to grab some cover letter and resume books to peruse while she was quietly
I checked the publication dates to make sure I wasn't getting career advice from the 70s. Nope, both books were last updated in 2016. Okay, good to go, right? OMG. No.We were not good to go. The advice in these books?! Ugh. It made me grimace and rant and slam them closed.
A couple of years ago I found myself on the hiring side of the desk for the first time and it was an eye-opening experience. I didn't conduct interviews, but I did create and place ads and I was the first line of defense on the incoming applications.
A fair amount of them never made it past me.
Why? Oh so many reasons, but I'll start with my own personal pet peeve:
- Cover letters
- In my experience, cover letters are mostly just idiot tests. "The ad says send a cover letter and resume. Circular file any that come in without cover letters; they obviously can't follow simple directions."
- Employers know what applicants want - a job. Applicants know what employers want - to be impressed with their ability to do that job.
- A decent resume is a good tool to let an employer know a person is interested, and to let them know whether they think the applicant has sufficient potential to fill the position to justify setting time aside for an interview.
- Therefore, a canned cover letter is a waste of everyone's time. And they are all canned. The only ones I've ever seen that were not obviously built from a template found online or in a career counselor's office were dreadful. Unprofessional. The kind of thing that made you wonder what the hell they were thinking when they wrote it.
- All of this is ignoring the ones that will get your resume trashed as fast as skipping the cover letter. The ones where applicants cut and paste and don't update the company name, person they are addressing, position they are applying for - pretty much any customizable field. Or the ones with unreadable fonts. Or colored paper. Or clip art. Yes, I saw all of these things as recently as 2015. Clip art!
- Long resumes
- Honestly - even if you send me 3 pages of brilliance, I am unlikely to look at anything other than the first page on the first pass. That first page needs to tell me your name, how to get in touch with you, and whether you meet at least some of the qualifications we're looking for in an applicant. If any of that information is unavailable until page 3, your resume probably won't even make it to a decision maker.
- Cute resumes
- Do not print it on non-standard paper to 'make it stand out'. It stands out, but not in a good way.
- Do not include images other than a head shot (personally I don't think those belong on resumes, either, unless you're an actor or a model).
- Do not use a 'pretty' or 'macho' font. Acceptable options are pretty much what they were in college - Times New Roman or Arial.
Also, I'm a little scared now.
When I was googling resume images for the picture above I noticed they all look liked damned Facebook profile pages. What the hell?!
Okay, I haven't needed a resume in 3 years, and, if I'm honest, the one I used then was a minor update of the one I used in 2007. So mine is a little out of date. But these social media looking things? No. I hatess its, I doess.
But I need to make one anyway, heaven help me. If I feel extra brave later this week (or give in and break out the booze) I might post a peek of the new one. Probably not, since I like to keep this blog semi-nonymous, but maybe.