E-mail continues to be a very popular way to send a resume to a company or recruiter. Despite how common a practice it is, many e-mails sent are poorly written and may hurt your chances of being considered for the position. Here are a few tips for writing an attention-grabbing and professional e-mail.
- Confirm what job you are applying for: the subject line is the best place for this, although it can be mentioned again in the body of the email.
- Use full sentences, no abbreviations. This is not a text to a friend, it is a formal job application! Treat the email seriously, and spend more than 30 seconds writing it.
- Use the email as a condensed cover letter. A couple of short paragraphs to introduce yourself, your goals and what makes you unique will be more likely read than a document attached separately.
- State clearly what skills and experience you have that makes you a good match for the position, and one element that makes you unique.
- Consider the length of your message: it should contain a minimum of 3 well-crafted sentences, but no more than two brief paragraphs. You can attach a longer cover letter to your resume if you think it necessary.
- Edit for spelling and grammar. Consider writing the email in a word processing program (ie. MS Word) to ensure accuracy.
- Input the recipient’s email last: check that your resume is attached and your email message is complete before hitting send. This avoids accidently sending the email prematurely.
- Do not mass-apply via e-mail. Send your resume to one employer at a time, with a customized message that relates specifically to that job, and how you meet their needs. A mass email shows you do not care enough about a position to put in any special effort.
Presenting yourself professionally means you will be more likely to be taken seriously for the role. Even if you are not the right fit for the position, a well-written email will give you a better chance of a respectful response, or even be considered for a different position.
It’s understood that people who spend a lot of time online don’t like to read a lot of text. They generally consume a few sentences, images or a video before being distracted by something else. So it’s not surprising that instead of posting long and detailed job descriptions, recruiters are starting to attract candidates through videos. Sometimes they are job specific, but more often a recruiting video highlights what’s best about the company. While the topic and content can vary, one rule to keep in mind is the length: shorter is better.
A recruiting video should not be long. In fact, a study by Visible Measures indicated that 33 percent of viewers abandon videos within the first 30 seconds. At 60 seconds, an additional of 14 percent of viewers are gone. And by the two-minute mark, another 16 percent will have stopped watching, for a total audience loss of 60 percent.
If you are considering a video, know that it doesn’t have to be a million-dollar production – low-budget videos capture peoples attention equally well, and resonate with most people as being friendly, fun and authentic. Some possible topics include: a day in the life of an employee, a tour of a unique office environment, various employees talking about their job or what the company is doing to be socially or environmentally responsible. What makes your company unique?
Simply post the video on YouTube or another video sharing site, to enable embedding and linking. Have your marketing team help create and promote the video in hopes of it going viral. Popular videos can help attract high level active and passive job seekers, change or establish positive public opinion, and draw in new partners or clients. Having your video become an internet sensation is a rare possibility, but there are undeniably great benefits to creating a recruiting video.
Phone screening potential candidates is a very common practice. Companies use this technique to determine whether you should be brought in for a full interview. Your resume has already got their attention, and they may be interested in you, but need some more information before spending the time and resources to interview. It is usually Human Resources that perform the phone screens with a set of basic questions. (A phone interview is different: it is usually performed as a conference call, and will include the hiring manager and others closely connected with the hiring).
Knowing that your resume was accepted means that your skills or experience meet the employer’s basic requirements, now you will need to build on the information in your resume. Here are some of the main purposes and questions that may be asked by HR during a phone screen:
- One main reason for a phone screen is to verify your resume. Can you back up your keyword-packed resume with real examples, or were you just bluffing your way past the resume intake software? Be prepared to provide concrete examples of the points made on your resume.
- A second purpose of a phone call is to judge your communication skills. For some jobs, being a smooth talker is not important, but for any job where you will be talking to clients, supervising others, or regularly communicating to your co-workers, good communication skills are vital. Be confident, clear and as articulate as possible. If English is not your first language, practice some of the phrases you will likely say, and do not speak too quickly. The best advice here is to stay calm – this is not a real interview, merely a call to gather more information.
- Some of the most common phone screen questions may include the following: What are your strengths/weaknesses? What do you know about our company? Why are you leaving your current job/Why did you leave your last job? Are you available to work X shifts? Are you able to relocate? Pretty straightforward.
Keep in mind that the HR person doing the phone screen is not necessarily an expert on the characteristics of the job you are applying for. They are there simply asking a series of questions, not to make a hiring decision. Don’t judge your chances for the position based on this phone interview! Similarly, don’t judge the job or the company based on how the questions were asked. The HR specialist likely will not engage in a warm conversation, and may even appear uncaring or cold. This does not mean they will not recommend you for an interview. They will schedule an interview based on how well you answer their questions, not how much of a connection you felt with them.
Payscale writes that good looks really do lead to more money, with attractive people earning approximately 10-15% more than unattractive people. They found that heavier women made less than thinner women, and that taller men (over 6’) typically had higher salaries than short men (5’5).
Have a look at this infographic which compares gender, makeup, height, weight and even performance in school based on looks. (click on image to see the full original)
Where have you noticed biases based on appearance? Do you think people in your workplace are unfairly judged by their looks?
This infographic looks at Job Seeker trends in 2013. What devices are used, how many job boards are typically used in a job hunt, and what social media platforms are really the most common (hint: LinkedIn). Statistics are from the Job Board Doctor 2013 survey.
It’s best to be ready for all kinds of interview questions. Knowing your work accomplishments, your goals and some information about the company are great starting points, but there are usually those questions that are really tough to answer – and the best way to handle them is to be prepared. Here’s a classic difficult interview question to consider:
Have you ever had to work with someone you didn’t like? Tell me about it.
Everyone has had to work with someone they didn’t really like, so the answer here cannot be ‘no’ – even if your best example is a classmate during a group project, you can answer this question and come out on top. Your goal is to show that you can work well with others, even if you don’t always see eye-to-eye. This is not a time to trash-talk anyone. Here’s one way to answer the question:
“Yes, there was a woman at X Company who I did not like very much. Since we had to work in the same department, I interacted with her often. The way I handled working with her is every time she said something I didn’t agree with (or was annoying, disrespectful, gossipy, talkative, etc) instead of arguing with her I just kept my comments neutral and changed the topic. Over time, I found that even though she often said things I didn’t like, she was a hard worker and I could respect how dedicated she was to her job.”
This example gives a bit of information why the person was not likeable, what you did to handle the situation, and something positive about the person. This shows you are able to work well with different types of people and appreciate their strengths – even when you don’t like them.
What’s the toughest interview question you’ve been asked?