Finding a Job and Finding a Mate: The Similarities

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.

Huh?

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

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13 Responses to Finding a Job and Finding a Mate: The Similarities

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    • lyndacwatts says:

      Do you mean you are debating the value of a “perfect” resume’ package? I was unable to find that debate on your site. Perhaps I overlooked it. You were flagged as spam by WordPress, btw. Hope that wasn’t your intention.

  2. Pingback: Resume’ Buzz Words: Words that Win! | Grown-up Living: Careers & More

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  4. darmowe filmy says:

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  6. Mali says:

    Completely I share your opinion. Good job. Great blog!

  7. Janice says:

    Well I don’t need a job but I’m looking for the love of my life! And I think I have tried every dating site that there is! Thanks for pointing me in a smarter direction. You’re right and I know it but it helps to be reminded that there is a world out there with real people just waiting to make a connection, new friend, etc. Love your stuff, Ms. Lynda! thank you again

  8. Suzanne Lejeune says:

    You might find my job search/hiring feedback interesting. I spent countless hours on each resume, tailoring them to each job, studying each listing looking for clues that would help me relate to them in the cover letter. Nothing. I have excellent skills and experience but my resume had “challenges”, which I deftly hid: presently unemployed, employment gaps, age, Associate Degree. One day, I skimmed the new job listings and decided I wouldn’t analyze the positions or edit them to fit the position. I fired off the same resume and cover letter to 10 listings. I got 6 responses and phone interviews – and one of them I wasn’t directly qualified for (it was for project manager and I am a marketing manager). I got 4 in-person interviews and 3 job offers all in the same salary and job quality range. The only thing I can think that made the difference in that batch of resumes is that I sent my resume within the first hour of the jobs being posted. My employer said they received stacks of resumes for my position and could not look at them all. Now that I’m on the inside, I can see how busy, chaotic, disorganized and swamped everyone is at work. I know it wasn’t easy for them to carve out time for the hiring process. I bet they narrowed it down to the resumes they received within the first few days. I should add it took 1 1/2 months of interviews and waiting before I was hired. BTW, you’re right….I found this page from a buzz word search (unrelated to resumes).

    • lyndacwatts says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience. And, yes, it is interesting.

      The hiring process is so variable, it’s hard to follow any particular hard and fast rule about timing — though it is always true that the earlier, the better. Small to mid-size employers don’t often use hiring agencies and do their own hiring. When that is the case, I totally agree that it is the first few submissions that will get the most attention. They aren’t necessarily looking for the best candidate out of a large hiring pool; instead, they are looking for the first candidate that qualifies. Generally.

      Congratulations on finding employment!

      ~Lynda C. Watts

  9. Rob B. says:

    Hello Lynda,
    I found one of your blog entries on Google today about resume buzz words. I was very impressed when I read the buzz word blog. However, reading this entry left me with a desire to write to you and beg an explanation. Before I point out the verbiage, I’d like to say that I am not only in the the 6th decade of my life, I have been in the job market for the last month or so.

    You wrote (and I quote): “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.”

    May I ask what prompted you to mention this person’s age in such manner as “… well into his 6th decade.” and “… he falls squarely in the “senior age category.”, when you continue on to express your opinion saying (and I’m paraphrasing here) that this person got the job in spite of not having a quality resume and a poorly written cover-letter?

    Regards,
    Rob

    • lyndacwatts says:

      Hi Rob,

      Thank you for your note. I had to go back and re-read the article you are referencing to remember exactly what point I was making at the time. The overall theme of the article is about the similarities between finding employment and finding a mate. In that regard, the point is that regardless of how “perfect” we present ourselves, the match just won’t work until we find the right match. Mentioning the fact that the job seeker used documents that were poorly written and that he was “well into his 6th decade” was to emphasize the relative importance of the right match versus appearances.

      At an age which was typically reserved for retirement, most people who are now in their 60s still need to work. It is common but unfortunate knowledge that senior job seekers generally have a disadvantage in today’s job market. The overwhelming majority of mail that I receive (from this blog) references problems with age discrimination and/or finding employment after the age of 50.

      The article provides an unusual example of someone who broke “the rules” AND faced the age challenge, but who still found employment. In his case, he found the right match.

      By the way, I don’t recommend that anyone — regardless of age — intentionally ignore the standard rules of resume and cover-letter submissions. We should ALWAYS present ourselves in the best possible light.

      I hope this answers your question, and I wish you all the best in your job search!
      Lynda C. Watts

      PS: The article also references that I charge a fee for resume evaluations. This article was written before I started offering free resume evaluations to the unemployed. For more information about this, see Free Resume Evalutions.

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