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7 steps to a better job ad response

March 22, 2011
A lot of resumes and applications come across our desks at Semper.
I don’t know if it’s the economy or a general lack of concern, but we’ve been finding a large number of applicants who seem to quit before they try. I understand the job market is iffy right now and many many people have applied for job after job. Don’t take your frustrations out on the recruiter you are asking to hire you.
Take this response for example:
From: “eBay Classifieds Reply (from” <>
Date: February 19, 2011 6:00:28 PM EST
Subject: A reply to your “JOB” Ad on eBay Classifieds

<resume (2011s ONLINE).doc>

As a recruiter, why would I take the time to open this resume? The subject line is generic. There is no information in the body of the email to entice a recruiter to look at the attachment. Regardless of the position you are applying for, an application is a sales letter. When you are looking for  a job, especially when there is a lot of competition, you need to make yourself stand out.
This ad response has 41 additional characters but no more information.

Subject: Controller

Date: April 18, 2010 3:14:17 PM EDT


Please find enclosed resume.  Thank you.

<ResLetter-Name Acounting Mgr 125[9].doc>

Your emailed resume is the first impression you give to a potential employer. Make it a good one. Give the recruiter or hiring manger a reason to take the extra step to open your resume.
Start with a personalized greeting. Dear Ms. Jackson makes a better impression that Dear Hiring Manager.
Give information about yourself in the email. Your email should include the highlights of your resume. What attracted you to the post? What you think you can do for the company? Give some indication that you have at least visited the company’s website. Its frustrating to call a candidate and find out they have no idea what they applied for.  Thoughtful targeted responses to job ads will go farther than mass applications.
Build rapport. Use similar language to what is in the job posting. People like people who are like them. It creates a subconscious connection with the reader when you repeat wording from the ad in your application.
Don’t focus entirely on yourself. “You” should appear more frequently then “I” in your initial email.
Make it easy to get in touch with you. Include email and phone numbers. Let the recruiter decide how he would like to contact you. Remember, if you choose to include your social media information make sure it is relevant to the position and not detrimental to your professional image. In 2009, 45% of employers were screening social media sites for information on potential hires. If Gilbert Godfey can get fired over his use of social media so can you.
Be truthful. I recently saw the resume of a dancer from a cruise ship who thought bookkeeping was the perfect next career move.  I also got a resume for a community manager who had 46 Twitter followers. Your background should support the position you are applying for. Prove your claims with specific facts, numbers and dollars. You should have the majority of the experience the ad requires.
Be clear, not clever. Yes, you might get some attention by wearing a sandwich board and hanging around the lobby where you are applying, but it is likely to be negative attention. Jazzy subject lines could get your email opened, but be sure the company culture supports that. Also make sure the content makes the email worth opening. You will get farther by clearly stating your skills and the value you provide than with clever gimmicks and tricks. For a laugh, see this list of gimmicks job seekers have used.
Other reminders:
Discrimination is illegal, unethical and plain wrong. Unfortunately it happens. Limit ways in which you can be discriminated against. Don’t include religious affiliations or ethnic group activities on your resume. Don’t add more than 10- 15  years of experience on your resume. This is especially important if you are over 50.
Follow these guidelines to increase your chance of making a positive impression on a recruiter. Your job search is in your hands. Positive outcomes are possible when you make the effort. If you aren’t going to make an effort, you might a well not try. Begin to build a relationship with the recruiter in your first email and watch your results improve.
One Comment leave one →
  1. June 9, 2012 9:12 pm

    Thank you for posting this. There’s a lot of great information to work with! It really is difficult not to get discouraged these days. When I listen to talk radio, watch or read the news, all we hear is how nobody is hiring and job seekers falling off the radar. Its disappointing how people are letting the media and a few rejections get to them because all one has to do is go on a few boards and the jobs ARE there! If companies weren’t hiring, staffing agencies would be out of business too.

    It’s hard to believe that someone would send a resume anywhere without even a little introduction. I looked over a discussion where the question was asked “Does anyone really read the cover letter?” There were a lot of mixed responses from HR and Hiring managers alike. What it boils down to is what kind of job you are looking for. Whether the person on the other end reads your letter or not, at the very least it shows you tried.

    I replied to a posting from Semper and received a call in about an hour! It goes to show where a little effort really goes. I decided to get a manicure for an upcoming interview and another customer happened to over hear me. It turned out she works in HR and was really surprised to see someone putting in any effort at all!

    It’s been a rough road since 2009 but, it’s time to get back on your bike and ride!

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