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The 7 rules for submitting your resume

Not surprisingly, there are a variety of opinions about how to submit your resume to employers and even the experts disagree. I’ve formed my own opinions over the past 10+ years of assisting clients with the job search process. Not every recruiter, HR manager, or resume expert will agree with every one of my suggestions, but I hope you will take them seriously.

  1. If the employer or recruiter states a preference for receiving files in a certain format (mailed, faxed, or e-mailed), always provide the document in that format. Make them happy.
  2. It is NOT necessary to send out paper resumes these days in most job markets for most companies. However, for very important prospects, it is worth considering distributing the résumé in both hard copy and electronic formats. Aren’t you more impressed when someone takes the time to write out a letter instead of sending you an email? Your future employer might be similarly impressed. Our work culture is on the edge of making printed résumés obsolete, but there are still some employers who prefer them and many others who accept them. Print the documents ONLY on plain bright white bond paper. Southworth is one good brand of résumé paper. After all, e-mail delivery and the postal service are not 100% reliable, and you don’t want to risk getting your application lost in a spam folder or gobbled by gremlins. Use a high quality laser printer rather than an inkjet or dot matrix, even if it takes a trip to Kinko’s. If you are sending a photocopy of a laser-printed résumé, then be sure that the copy is neither smudged nor blemished by marks from the copier. Do not staple your résumé and cover letter.

Note: If you are reluctant to send out hard copies of your résumés out of “green” concerns, you do have other options. E-mail your resume first, and if you receive a response e-mail informing you that the résumé has been properly received, then do not mail. However, if you don’t receive confirmation of receipt, consider following up with a phone call to ensure that the document was received. Even then, be warned that you may be missing opportunities if you don’t deliver hard copies to your top prospects. Use 100% recycled paper.

  1. When distributing hard copies, it’s important to try to make the document stand out in the pile. Put the résumé unfolded in a large envelope addressed to the hiring manager (not the Human Resources staff). If the prospect is local, then personally deliver the envelope. Ask for the hiring manager at the front desk and attempt to deliver it personally. If that is not possible, then leave it with the receptionist or H.R. staff. Just the fact that it is unstamped will make the package stand out and call to the hiring manager’s attention your strong interest in the position. If it is not practical to personally deliver the documents, then send the hard copies by Express/Overnight Mail (if it’s within your budget) or First Class Mail.
  2. If you are uncertain of the format that the employer or recruiter desires, always submit your file electronically, whether or not you choose to deliver a hard copy. When sending an employer or recruiter an electronic version of your résumé, and they ONLY accept one file (usually this is because their Web site only allows you to upload one file), then upload a Microsoft Word (.docx) file. The .docx format has its disadvantages (the formatting is impossible to control perfectly because the appearance of the document is dependent on the display and printer settings of the employer’s computer); however, it is the most universally accepted format. Only a few years ago I advised clients to go with the DOC format over DOCX because many employers had not yet upgraded to Word 2007, but by now virtually everyone knows about the DOCX format.

Use social media carefully in your job search

Ben Cathers, writing on the Personal Branding Blog, highlights some changes afoot at Facebook worthy of your attention. He notes that in a recent re-design the social networking site has renamed and repositioned the personal biographical information section. The new setup gives entrepreneurs and careerists new opportunities for using Facebook to connect:

For entrepreneurs who use Facebook for personal branding, you should mention your business, your primary content objectives (what you will be posting), and all of your websites (blog, company, Twitter profile). In addition, you should mention the type of people you are specifically looking to connect with (end users for your company’s products, potential business partners, etc., etc.).

While many professionals are already familiar with LinkedIn’s value for career marketing, Facebook’s enormous popularity is going to make its use for professional networking increasingly unavoidable. If you’ve previously kept Facebook as “strictly personal” in the past, it’s worthwhile to investigate the site’s new privacy features and consider whether it may be time to face forward.

Looking for a technical job with the military or a company that does business with the military? Social media communications and blogging may be the resumes of the future, but if you’re in a sensitive occupation you need to be careful about what you’re saying online. Recently the US Army has launched a social media handbook, providing guidance for soldiers on the acceptable use of Facebook, Twitter, and other Web 2.0 tools. According to a recent article on Mashable:

The new social media handbook now provides additional tips and best practices, along with information on operations security tips, branding information, checklists, regulations and frequently asked questions.

A list of security tips, provided in the handbook, includes points such as:

– Setting privacy setting options to “friends only.”
– Not revealing schedule information and event locations.
– Considering turning off the GPS function of smartphones to avoid geotagging.
– Reviewing photos and videos before they’re posted online to make sure they don’t give away “sensitive” information.
– Making sure family members understand what type of information can and cannot be posted on social networks.

Whether you are in the military or another occupation which places a premium on privacy, be sure not to go overboard in your use of social media throughout your job search. Be sure your future employers understand that you’ll respect their legitimate needs for keeping important information confidential.

Blogging can attract the eye of recruiters for Microsoft and Amazon

A recent article by Randy Woods highlights the importance of blogging and other aspects of online identity in conducting today’s IT job search. He shares one success story, Liz Stinson, who landed a job at Microsoft only months after starting a technology blog:

“I had maybe five regular blog readers,” says Stinson, who mostly read white papers and other Web articles about Azure and “boiled down the language” to explain how it works. Luckily for Stinson, one of those readers was a recruiter for Microsoft who had been searching the Web for terms that relate to Azure. The recruiter was intrigued enough by the blog to arrange for Stinson, who lived in the Bay Area, to interview in Redmond.

About six months later, Stinson was hired as the new security program manager for Windows Azure. “I had only just started looking for a job,” she says. “So this was weirdly serendipitous.”

Blogs help in a number of ways: by communicating your passion for the subject, by showing off your knowledge of current industry trends, and by helping to establish your unique individual voice.

In some ways, blogs are the resumes of the future. They demonstrate your competence in an area of importance to potential importance far more convincingly and in-depth than a one- or two-page document. Moreover, they aare recruiter and hiring manager magnets, giving you an opportunity to continually interact with thought leaders in your field and position yourself as one of them.

Does your online identity suffer from “multiple personality disorder”?

Does your online identity suffer from “multiple personality disorder”? Then you’re not alone. The impact of social media on professional advancement and job searching is causing a marriage of personal and professional identities in a problematic way for many professionals. How you present yourself with friends and family is increasingly blurring with your career persona.

In an interview with the Personal Branding Blog, public relations expert Brian Solis says:

What’s in play right now is something so profound the we are only on the verge of realizing its true impact and potential. The path that many of us are on today however, place us on a collision course between our personal and professional brands as well as the brands we ultimately represent. Social media requires us to engage transparently and as such, the networks and corresponding social graphs that we’re forming blur the lines between who we are to friends and family, peers and professional contacts, and also those we hope to reach on behalf of our business. Our attention is finite and it’s increasingly thinning to a point of diminishing returns.

The remedy? According to Solis, it’s a “strategic embrace” of “multiple personality order”.

When interviewing at Microsoft, be prepared

Here, straight from the Microsoft Jobs Blog, are some pitfalls to avoid:

As an interviewer, it’s extremely frustrating to be interviewing a candidate who answers a question before you’re done asking it. Not only am I now irritated that you’ve cut me off, but you’re likely going to give me an answer I didn’t ask for.

One thing I’ve done when interviewing, or am in a meeting, etc., is if I think of something I want to add or a question – I jot it down and save it for when it’s my turn to talk.

Be careful not to assume you know everything already. I’ve had a candidate interrupt just about everything I was saying as I was preparing him to interview here. He came across as impatient and that he felt I had nothing to offer him. It didn’t leave me with a good impression. Even if you do know it all, try not to let it show.

There’s much more advice that is a MUST READ prior to your interview with Microsoft, so check out the whole article and the rest of the series.