New Issues for the E-Generation
Only a decade or so ago, job-seekers were limited to mailing resumes and cover letters. Then came express mail, which speeded the process and magnified the importance of messages delivered by a next-day carrier. Next, faxing introduced immediate communication and allowed for follow-ups minutes after resumes and cover letters were faxed. Now, almost all job-seekers must become “e-fficient”: able to effectively use the Internet and electronic communications in their job search.
Access to the World Wide Web is essential for job-seekers today. You must use the Web to identify and respond to postings, to explore potential employer Web sites, and to e-mail your resume and cover letter (plus other supporting documents) as attachments. If you don't have your own computer and a way to connect to the Web, use the free resources at your local public library.
Today, e-mail is an acceptable way of sending cover letters and resumes, but you should follow proper strategies when doing so. When e-mailing, include the name of the job in the subject heading whenever possible. Keep your e-mail text concise, or adapt what would be the initial paragraph and refer to the “attached cover letter and resume.” Spell-check your e-mail—typos characterize you as someone who does not pay attention to detail. A good feature of most e-mail programs is the ability to send yourself a secret copy of your messages. Another option is to save all the messages you send. This will allow you to review those messages at a later date, just like saving a paper copy.
Voice mail is also appropriate for transmitting messages to potential employers and advocates, but try to stick with brief statements and don't expect responses immediately. Keep messages brief and to the point, always ending with a question, like “Should I call again or will you e-mail me your response?” If possible, alternate between e-mail and voice mail, so you won't appear to be a nuisance. And be patient regarding responses. A day or two may seem like forever, but it's perfectly normal.
Resume Uploading Systems and Sites
Unrealistic expectations associated with online job-search services are endless. On sites like www.hotjobs.com, you have the option of uploading your resume so that potential employers may browse through it. Although this is a passive approach to searching for a job, it does occasionally work and is probably worth your while. Plus, when you do find good postings, you may be able to simply forward your uploaded resume in application for those positions.
You can upload cover letters into Web-based systems, even if they appear to only allow resumes. Create and then upload a multiple-page document. Make the first page the cover letter and subsequent pages the resume. Always supplement resumes with cover letters, even when using Internet resources.
Often, before any actual person reviews your cover letter and resume, the documents are electronically scanned by key word. Potential employers identify and read only those documents that contain predetermined words and phrases. Knowing this will surely make you appreciate the importance of using key words appropriate to your chosen field and, if applicable, in the job description.
E-mail Won't Fail
Some postings offer the option of e-mailing, faxing, or mailing cover letters and resumes. Whenever you can, e-mail first, but if you want to be sure, follow up with a mailing. Your e-mail message will be the “cover note,” and your resume and lengthier “cover letter” will probably be attached as Microsoft Word files. The first line of the e-mail message should state your purpose: “I would like to interview for the Account Executive position.” Subsequent lines state qualifications concisely and clearly. E-mails should be quick, direct, and informal. Lengthy and overly formal e-mails are hard to read. The attached letter can be more business-like.
E-mail is the transmission method of choice for most initial contacts and follow-up communications. Of course, you may have to use the phone to identify the e-mail address of your desired contact person. A quick search of an organization's online directory (if one is available) might give you this information as well.
Microsoft Word is used by more than half of all business professionals. To ensure your documents will be accessible when you attach them to e-mails, use Word when drafting and editing cover letters and resumes. Here's a word of warning, though: Do not use the templates provided. They limit your ability to personalize documents and to present the most important content first.