How to Make an Impression With Your Resume

This week we feature another guest post on resumes, this time from Blair Wettlaufer, Chief Operating Officer at Kingston Data and Credit.

When I first became a hiring manager, back in the day, people often made an impression by hand delivering their resume, on coloured paper, and following up with a phone call a week later, or by sending a thank you card. Times have changed since then – the use of social networking, email, and the general change in the corporate culture of Canada make these strategies ineffective. But at the heart of it, you need to make an impression.

The last time I posted an advertisement on the Job Bank for a staff member, I received over a hundred resumes. I will tell you honestly that 90 applicants got about 5 seconds of my time, before I discarded them. Of the remaining 20-30 or so, I quickly worked my way down to less than a dozen candidates to interview. You do not want to be in the discard pile, so here are some ways you can be memorable to your prospective employer, and get you to the interview stage.

Double check what you are sending!
Don’t have spelling mistakes in your resume, a cover letter addressed to another company, or misspell the hiring manager’s name. That indicates a lack of attention, and gets your resume filed in the discard pile almost immediately.

Write a great cover letter
Many resumes I receive have no cover letter at all, or have a cover letter consisting of one sentence, or have a generic cover letter. Three or four paragraphs can do it, and try to make it as fresh and impactful as possible. Don’t use the same canned language that’s on everyone else’s cover letter.

Make your resume accessible
Many managers differ in their approach, but for me personally, if I receive a resume in WPS format, or as a Skydrive link, I discard it immediately – if I can’t click to open it simply, I’m not interested.

Make your resume visually appealing
Gone are the days of fancy bond paper and coloured envelopes, but you can still put a masthead font for your name, title captions for your categories, and a matching cover sheet. Don’t go overboard and make it super-artsy (unless you are applying for a graphic design position)

Get your name known by the hiring manager, by being seen more than once
Follow up, if possible, but within the instructions, and without being a pest. Try sending a polite email a week later expressing your keen interest in the position, and that you certainly hope that there will be an opportunity to meet in person, or try to connect with the hiring manager via LinkedIn, or send an old-fashioned thank you card in the mail.

Build rapport
Just because a company doesn’t hire you now, doesn’t mean they never will – follow up with the hiring manager three months later and let them know you hope their candidate is working out well, but that you are still interested in working with the company. Ask if there are any new opportunities that would be a good fit for you. In short, try to build a relationship with a decision maker at the company.

Blair Wettlaufer Blair Wettlaufer has worked in the credit and collections field for 23 years. He has trained over 300 collection agents, certified a collection agency under the ISO 27001 international standard, and has shared his expertise with a number of companies, large and small, to help them build a better business. You can read more from, and about, Blair on his blog, Receivable/Accounts.

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