Thursday, December 19, 2013
Recently a job seeker asked my advice on job hunting strategies. Knowing that these are very common questions, I thought an online response would be fitting. Here goes:
Good afternoon Amy,
I have been applying for jobs online and have a question for you. When asked for a cover letter, how much detail is expected? I have been advised to keep it to one page. I was under the impression the cover letter was to address the requirements in the ad and thus was much more involved. Could you clarify this please?
Also, what is a reasonable time to hear back from one of these ads I submit to? I have noticed there is not often an email address given and thus it is impossible to do any follow up. Is it common for there to be some acknowledgment of your application or only if they are interested?
Thanks for any help you can offer,
Dear Job Seeker,
While I can only offer my perspective, I'm happy to share my thoughts with you. Here they are:
Cover letters: Ok, I've probably admitted to this before, but I don't even read cover letters 95% of the time. It is often another document to open and can be cumbersome when I'm dealing with a lot of new submittals. I think a resume should be self-explanatory. That being said, I do like a succinct email message with a polite greeting, a brief introduction and any pertinent information that may not be included in the resume. This information could include the reason why you are looking for a new role, why this role appeals to you and also facts such as ability to relocate, availability to interview and/or start a job and the best ways to reach you. But that's me. Some people really expect a cover letter. With that in mind, do write a succinct cover letter that explains why you are interested in the role and that you are qualified for the role. I also recommend including the pertinent information I outlined above. I think with many of the larger companies they are stripping your resume from any other documents and putting it into their database. But it is your call if you continue to include a cover letter or simply move to an email message.
Feedback after submitting your resume: What is a reasonable time? I don't know. Many of the ads you submit your resume to are blind box ads and are posted that way so the company can keep its anonymity and not be deluged with calls from job seekers. While I may kick myself for saying this, I always encourage you to follow up after submitting a resume--when you can. So if you do submit your resume to a specific company and can put a call into the hiring manager of the department, or the HR manager, do it. While I may get 100 resumes for a posting, I hear from about 5% of the applicants. Sometimes the people who have followed up with me discovered that their resume got routed to my spam folder. Some of those people have ended up getting hired through WineTalent--so it definitely paid off for them to follow up on their resume submission.
Acknowledgement of submission: I do try to let every applicant know I received their resume. When I have someone check in with me I ask if they got a confirmation. When they don't, sometimes I have found their resume stuck in the spam folder. Or they realize they sent it to the wrong email address. But that's my system. Unfortunately, the vast majority of job seekers say that they never get any confirmation of their resume being received by other companies. This is after direct submissions to companies, to blind box ads, and to fellow recruiters. I empathize with the frustration people feel in this situation. There really isn't much you can do. I do anticipate that job seekers will hear from a company if there is interest in them as an employee--otherwise the whole job posting system isn't working! But that is not much solace during the job hunt.
Takeaway: My advice is to be good at submitting ads to openings, at following up on those submissions when possible, and to find out anything you can about the company and the role if it is of real interest to you.
Good Luck! Hopefully this is helpful. Keep me posted on how the job hunt goes. You'll be hearing from me when a suitable role comes up--hopefully soon!