Phone Calls Please! And Other Rules You Should Break
Laura Gassner Otting,
Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group
(This article has been published by
seekers constantly second guess themselves about what to do
at each step of the process. My clients often bemoan, 'If
only I could talk to a live person, I could just tell them
how great I am!'
And, why shouldn’t they? This article debunks some of the
most infamous job seeking myths.
Phone Calls Please means never call!
average recruiting firm or human resources office has more
than one fax machine and more than one printer. The odds of
your paper reaching the right desk, or the right interviewer
are far less than perfect. If there is a job that is
absolutely perfect for your skills and experience, and you
haven’t gotten a call about it, there might be a good reason
why. Try calling after hours and leaving a 10-20 second
voice mail message describing your excitement and your
match; if you seem right, I would dig through my resume
stack to find you. If you don’t, I won’t. You’ve lost
Resumes must be one page.
Anyone who has ever done any hiring will tell you that
they’ve never once stopped reading an interesting
resume at the end of the first page. In truth, we
headhunters tend to skip around for the information we want,
i.e., current position, schooling, numbers expressing scale
of accomplishment, etc. Keep your resume to one page until
you’ve had a decade of real experience under your belt, then
expand as necessary to tell the whole story.
letters are about you.
Imagine a stack of cover letters and resumes, with each one
proclaiming that the writer has “the skills and experience
for the job opening.” With a pile of 200 resumes on my desk
for any one job opening, the cover letters that stand out
discuss the needs of my client’s organization and the
particular challenges facing the incumbent, and then
how the candidate’s skills and experiences directly
correlate. Indeed, it’s always these cover letters that get
my clients most excited, and propel their candidates faster
and further in the hiring process than their “insert job
available jobs are listed in the classifieds.
you aren’t networking, you aren’t really looking for a job.
I tell my job seeking clients that they should spend at
least three quarters of their time talking to their
networks, and only one quarter answering blind ads from
newspapers or online sources. Advertised jobs are
wonderful, but they don’t nearly scratch the surface of what
might be out there. Besides, wouldn’t you rather get into
the candidate mix before the onslaught of resumes?
Changing careers is impossible; Only apply to do things
you've done before.
people will have at least four or five careers in their
professional lifetimes. Consider arranging your resume with
a functional introduction above your otherwise chronological
history if you would like to do something different. As
long as there are transferable skills, there is no reason
why you shouldn’t stretch your wings. But remember, you may
need to take a pay cut or start off in a more junior
position while your next employer takes a chance on your new
career’s budding flight.
old/too young; Always hide your age.
Candidates who remove dates from graduation, or leave off
any other identifiable dates, worry me. Ageism
unquestionably exists in the job market; but would you
really want to work in an organization that didn’t want to
even interview you based on your age? If you are the sort
of person who likes to fight that battle, then by all mean,
please do. However, the sad fact is that the older you get,
the harder it will be to find something new, and a failure
within an organization that starts off unfriendly to your
generation isn’t going to shine on your resume. Be yourself
in the job seeking process and you are more likely to
succeed in the job holding process.
Salary ranges are set in stone.
one of the most basic lessons in economics: a thing is only
worth what another is willing to pay for it. If you were
paid $75,000 in your last job, it is unlikely that you will
be paid $150,000 in your next, regardless of the salary
range advertised. Conversely, if you are looking to earn
$150,000 and the range is $75,000, it is up to you convince
the employer why they should pay you more. Consider,
however, that employers are often trapped by the salaries of
others in peer positions, and raising your hiring salary
becomes a bigger question across the band. Instead, think
of creative alternatives, like additional vacation time, a
bonus system tied to meeting benchmarks, a laptop computer
for your home, or memberships in professional organizations
or tuition reimbursement for training programs.
must accept the offer that is made.
the point where an offer is made, an organization has
narrowed and possibly even dismissed the pool of other
candidates. You are their single choice, they have
envisioned you in the position and are invested in you. If
the offer is not up to your expectations, you have every
right to go back with a counter offer or a query about why.
You will have to work with these people every day in the new
job, however, so don’t haggle over a few dollars, but make
sure the offer is one that will keep you happy in the job.