Resumes and covers letters: your focus but not all about you


Imagining that these documents should have you as their sole focus shows a gross misunderstanding of the hiring process. They may be your forum and appear to be about you, but if you treat them as straightforward  biography, you will create less-than-useful documents.

Resumes and cover letters need to be drafted with the employer in mind. They should reflect what you know about the work that you will be doing and how you might contribute to the enterprise.

Employers look for specific information about you. They appreciate it if the information is put into context with their businesses as the focus. How do you do this?

Research.  You do not need to know what the manager had for breakfast last Tuesday, but you do need to know about the industry and the job. Try to talk (yes, talk on the telephone) to people who are currently working in the field or who have done the work. Use your tools to explore the issues of concern to the industry: myfacebookspace.comLinkedIn@twitter.Google+  

Inventory Skills and Experience. What paid or volunteer work have you done? What skills do you have? Once you have learned about the job and the industry, you will be able to use Transferable Skills to make the case that you understand the employer and its problems, and that you have something to contribute.

Transferable Skills Example:  Restaurant server/bartender AND busy litigator
  • A restaurant server or bartender is responsible for managing a large and diverse group of potentially rowdy people who all want something at the same time or five minutes ago. They want it prepared exactly to their liking and at the temperature they believe to be correct even management is not keen to serve raw hamburger or to make multiple menu alterations for random preferences. You have to monitor the cash, the time, and everyone’s behavior, while smiling all the time.
  • The desktop of a busy litigator has multiple files with multiple clients all seeking a positive result. Some will be disappointed. Some will be angry. You have to manage their expectations and behavior, and explain why the result that they have is the best that could have been.
Telepathy is not a job search tool. When employers ask for specific details (leadership, scholarship, or technology expertise) provide it. Use these documents to provide relevant, meaningful, specific details. Don’t be modest, and don’t expect employers to read your mind.

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