As an active member of LinkedIn.com, I am always keeping my eyes open for that rare job seeker who finds employment. And when I do discover someone who announces a new position, I seek him out to see what I might learn.
What I just learned is so surprising, I am compelled to write about it now, today, without delay!
I asked the new hire — let’s call him Phil — what he did, exactly, to obtain his new position. Phil explained that he hired a service to prepare his résumé and cover-letter, and that they submitted these documents to relevant job vacancies. From that he received various job interviews, one of which lead to the offer he accepted.
I asked if I could see the winning résumé and cover.
Today, I received those documents — but I’d forgotten why they were being sent to me. I assumed (which is a bad thing to do) that it was another job seeker asking for my evaluation of his documents, a service I frequently provide.
When I opened the email attachments, I thought, “Oh, I sure hope I bid high on this evaluation; these are going to take a lot of work!” I started my usual critique process, but, mid-way, I paused. I couldn’t remember having discussed my service or fees with Phil.
Checking my LinkedIn messages, I found and read the exchange between myself and Phil and was reminded that I asked him for the documents; he hadn’t asked me to evaluate or improve them.
To say that I was astounded by the poor quality of Phil’s résumé and cover-letter is an understatement. They aren’t just bad, they are horrible. Every “rule” was broken, the formatting was an eye-sore, and quite frankly, the actual text made very little sense.
As an example, consider the first paragraph of his cover-letter:
As a seasoned professional I seek a position of responsibility in which I may apply a vast array of skills in the best interests of my employer and all with whom I share the rewards of combined effort and accomplishment.
I consider myself to be reasonably intelligent, and I can only barely interpret the meaning of that run-on sentence!
The remainder of the cover-letter isn’t any better. It does not have any of the coveted bullet-points we are “supposed” to include, such that a hiring manager can quickly scan the document and easily find our best achievements and relevant skills. Its formatting is non-standard, there is no white space between paragraphs, and each paragraph is indented — the way we wrote essays in grade school.
The résumé is even worse.
For starters, the résumé is written in first person. Nearly the entire first 3/4 of page #1 is one bullet point after another, each starting with “I” (as in, “I am technically astute…“). Each point is listed under an unconventional heading that states “AS YOUR BUSINESS COORDINATOR”. Rather than listing his professional achievements, he provides a list of promises!
SO WHAT IS THE POINT?
The point is this: This senior job seeker, well into his 6th decade, found a GOOD job. It clearly didn’t matter that he falls squarely in the “senior” age category. The lack of a quality résumé clearly did not make a difference. A poorly written cover-letter did not preclude him from getting the offer of employment.
Is it a fluke? Is this a rare example of an employer so desperate to find an employee that they would take anyone, regardless of the rules of résumé and cover-letter writing?
I wish I knew the answer to that one. I don’t. I’ve spent countless hours “perfecting” my résumé. I’ve struggled over every single word in each cover-letter, and made countless formatting corrections to make sure that white space is evenly distributed, etc. And do you know what? I’m done. It is what it is, and what it is, is good enough.
How is this Similar to ‘Finding a Mate’? (The title, remember?)
I can spend a fortune on a new outfit, take half a day to prepare my hair, make-up, my nails and my wardrobe, all in anticipation of a date with a fine gentleman that evening. But, no matter how beautiful I may appear, and regardless of how wonderful I might believe myself to be, if my date and I don’t “match,” we don’t match.
I think the same thing is happening in the job seeking process. Until the right match is made, putting too much emphasis on the dressing is a waste of precious time.
For those of us who have not yet found the “right” (or any!) career opportunity, it very likely has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not our credentials package is “perfect.” It is more likely that we simply have not yet found the right employer, and the right employer hasn’t yet found us.
~Lynda C. Watts