Yesterday we listed the Seven Objections and their underlying assumptions. Today let’s look in more detail at Objections #1 to #3:
- I customize information for the job only in my cover letter.
- There are no firm criteria.
- This resumé is for any open position (=criteria are unknown).
These objections proceed from the false assumption that more detail (=more choices) is better.
The “Tailored Cover Letter” Objection
Most cover letters are never read.* Unless specifically requested as part of the criteria, cover letters do not count for any “points”. Cover letters are frequently separated** and filed before the person with the power to hire you sees your resumé.
Omitting to tailor your profile (and the rest of your resumé) makes you look unfocused, inconsistent and lazy – the last things you want a prospective employer to think about you.
We no longer live in the days of manual typewriters. Crafting a tailored profile on your computer is no harder than writing a cover letter. If all the great things you can say about yourself don’t seem to fit in your profile, save them for the interview. If you feel compelled to write a cover letter anyway, make sure you reflect everything concrete you say in your cover letter in your profile and the body of the resumé (not necessarily word for word, but reflect and substantiate).
- * The best exposition of why cover letters are a waste of time is made by Phil Rosenberg. See Is Your Cover Letter an Ineffective and Obsolete Tradition?
- **Sure, you could embed the cover letter in a pdf with your resumé – but you risk looking like two different people in the same document, one focused, and one who will take anything.
“The Criteria are Hazy/Unknown” Objection
In this case, if you don’t know the important criteria, it is your business to learn them. Whether or not there something is published about the position, use:
– your own common sense
– the advice of friends and your network
– research on the company, line of business, and domain
to determine what qualifications are most important to the job, then select those details to highlight in your profile
This approach can work to your advantage, because you will clarify the needed qualifications for the person with the power to hire you, and they will love you for it.
If there’s a job you want, or a company you long to join, why not start a list today of the people you could talk to about that company or their line of business? How about searching and bookmarking some websites that refer to the company, its business, its challenges – and its competitors? How about looking for someone who has just left the company? (Thanks to headhunter David Perry for this tip.) How about following the company through LinkedIn and Twitter?
Tomorrow we’ll discuss Objection #4, the agency demand to put everything in your resumé.