I'm taking a few moments this morning to share an email I just read as an example of how not to apply for a job. The email subject line read, "Jane Smith's resume". Since I am in career services, I actually opened this email thinking this might be an alumna asking for a resume review appointment.
A regular employer might not even take this step.
The email screen itself was blank with three attachments: Jane Smith's cover letter, Jane Smith's resume and Jane Smith's references.
Again, being a career adviser, I opened the cover letter thinking this may be an alumna unfamiliar with email who needs an appointment. A regular employer may not risk opening attachments from an unknown sender
The cover letter was addressed "To Whom in May Concern" and it was an untargeted job application letter. The resume indicated the woman was not an Illinois alumna.
How could this unsolicited application have been improved?
- Target all communication. Resume blasts irregardless of whether they are conducted by you or a vendor are not effective.
- Research a list of targeted companies to identify a specific person to address. (This person had my personal e-mail so they should have also found my name and title.)
- Research the company to understand whether they need someone with your skills and experience and if they are hiring. (Hint: Illinois's HR page clearly states we are in the middle of a hiring freeze.)
- Don't leave the message screen blank, use that space for your cover letter and give the reader a reason to open the attachments.
- Ask for an informational interview to learn more about the company. (If this person had asked for an informational interview to learn more about working in higher education, I probably would have agreed.) Worst case scenario with this is you still walk away with information you didn't have before.
Just a few tips to direct your job search work this weekend. If you would like more information about cover letter and the job search, visit our Virtual Career Center.