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Resume Tips: Impress Before They See Your Resume

9 Feb, 2012

Resume Tips: Impress Before They See Your Resume

Ah. After much hard work, your resume is beautiful! You’ve spent countless hours (and perhaps a chunk of change) perfecting both its content and appearance and now you’re ready to send it out to fulfill its primary duty–landing you an interview. Or several. And fast.

What you may not realize, however, is that the first interview is about to begin–the 10-second interview where the recipient of your resume quickly and perhaps even unconsciously begins evaluating your candidacy based solely on *how* you’ve applied for the job.

Unlike a traditional interview, the 10-second interview, often conducted by overworked, unimaginative appointees, doesn’t offer you the chance to respond to initial questions, biases, and concerns; it’s just them, your resume, and that dreaded “delete” key.

Here are some resume tips to help you make the right first impression:

1. GIVE IT A NAME

Hiring managers receive anywhere from 10 to 1,000 resumes a day by email so it’s understandable why they may get a little agitated after opening a dozen resume files in a row entitled resume1.doc. Use a more specific naming convention for your attachments, incorporating your full name and the position to which you’re applying. Uniquely labeled files are easy to remember and (more importantly) easy to retrieve later on amongst a sea of “MyEngineeringRez.doc” files.

2. REMEMBER WHERE YOU’RE FROM

Using your personal email account is fine, as long as your user name and domain are palatable in the professional world. It’s hard to take someone seriously when they’re sending from “coolsherry@yahoo.com or porsche_man@hotmail.com.” Consider investing in a website, especially if you’re in the IT industry. That way you can use your own name as a domain, create user names specific to your field and position, *and* store your resume online for easy reference.

3. WATCH YOUR STEP

Keep your correspondence limited to the contact specified in the job description, lest you risk stepping on the wrong person’s toes. Human Resources personnel, administrative assistants and other screeners watchdogs may be offended if you try to go over their head. That said, if you’ve identified an employee with decision-making power through your own personal network, you should contact them directly. Just be sure to introduce yourself (in-person, on the phone, or by email) *before* you forward your resume. Then ask for the proper application procedure (i.e. should anyone be copied on this email?).

4. TO ATTACH OR NOT TO ATTACH

Unless otherwise specified, you should always send an ASCII (text-only) resume embedded in the body of your email along with an MS Word or Adobe Acrobat attachment. This way, the recipient will have the option to begin scanning your plain text resume immediately or to open up the “reader-friendly” version. If you’re unclear as to what an ASCII resume is, find out soon; they’re quickly becoming the standard for online resume submission.

5. KEEP IT SIMPLE

Computer crashes can ruin anyone’s day, including the hiring manager who’s having trouble opening your gargantuan Photoshop file. Keep the size of your collective attachments down to 50Kb. This means no pictures (of yourself or anyone else), graphics, writing samples, or lengthy resume addendums. Save these items for the interview or send them upon request only.

6. AN INTRODUCTION IS IN ORDER

Always, without exception, include a cover letter embedded in the body of the email. This is your opportunity to introduce your resume. Don’t ever pass it up. If you’ve written a cover letter that warrants more than a passing glance, attach it as a Word or Acrobat file alongside your resume, and make sure it’s clearly labeled as a cover letter.

7. FOLLOW THEIR LEAD

All companies have a preferred way they like to process resumes, just as you have a preferred way you like to receive, open, and organize your mail. Keep their life simple and follow directions even if it means pasting that cumbersome 16-digit job code in the subject line *and* the body of your email. One last note: If their requests contradict any advice you’ve read or heard (including this article), go with what they say….even if it makes absolutely no sense. You’ll get points for following along.

8. THE FINAL FIVE

Proofread, proofread, proofread. As is true with any marketing document, it’s essential that your email, cover letter, and resume are flawless. Spend a final five minutes (at least!) reviewing your work, preferably after a short break from your computer to give your eyes a much needed rest.

These are just a few ideas to maximize your chances at getting a call for an interview. Remember, you’re being evaluated the minute you hit that “send” button. Make sure to seize this opportunity to further impress those power-wielding screeners. By the time they get to reviewing your resume, they’ll already be rooting for you.

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