Cover Letters – Not Worth Your Time
Being an IT recruiting company, our prospective job seekers are always asking us whether they should include a cover letter with their resume. The answer might surprise you: Absolutely…..not. Cover letters are rarely, if ever read. Imagine this: you’re in Human Resources looking through dozens, sometimes hundreds, of submittals for a position you just posted on Monster.com. Are you going to stop and read through every word in the resume, never mind a cover letter? Of course not. The odds are even less in your favor if the actual hiring manager is the person sifting through the resumes. In the IT recruiting industry, managers rarely have the time to each lunch, never mind sort through a stack of resumes.
However, although we’re firmly against cover letters, we’re strong proponents of writing an accurate “objective.”
The objective should be located at the very top of your resume so it’s the first line read on your resume. Countless hiring managers that have told me that they carefully read every objective to make sure it matches the position the client is hiring for. Therefore, be sure to tailor this objective towards every position you apply for.
For example, if you’re a seasoned IT professional applying for a Business Analyst position in the insurance industry, try something like this.
Objective: IT Professional searching for a Business Analyst position that will allow me to utilize my experience in the insurance industry.
Clean, short and precise, this objective clearly mirrors the position (and even industry) that you’re applying for. Remember, the most important part of writing an “objective” is to tailor it towards each job. Mix it up, don’t just use the same ambiguous line for every job. Not all jobs or companies are the same, therefore neither should your objective.
Forget what you learned in school or in career services. Cover letters are a waste of your time. Instead, focus your energy on creating a masterpiece of a resume! See our previous blog posting entitled: “Writing the Perfect Resume.”
For more advice, contact an IT Recruiter at AVID: email@example.com.
Writing The Perfect Resume
One of my biggest pet peeves in the IT recruiting industry is a sloppy resume. I say this because it can make or break a candidate from getting an interview, then ultimately the job. Let’s put things into perspective: The distinction between a strong resume and a poorly written resume could be the difference between getting the interview and not getting the interview, which could then lead to whether or not you land the job. Subsequently, this job could provide you with additional training or compensation to be the stepping-stone which will then help you get you the salary or next position in the company of your dreams.
Remember, it all started with a strong resume.
Therefore, I’ve taken the time to outline 10 crucial points to help you create a “masterpiece.” Follow these steps and you’re chances of landing an interview, then ultimately your dream IT job, will dramatically improve.
1) Start With An Objective:
Clients read objectives. Therefore, tailor every objective towards the respective IT job that you’re applying to. For example, if you’re submitting your resume to a Project Manager position for an insurance company, and you’re a PM with industry experience, be sure to “bleed” the job. Therefore, create an “Objective” that reads something like: “Looking for a Project Management position where I can also utilize my skills and experience in the insurance industry.”
Since Objectives are listed at the top of the resume, they’re the typically the line that people first see. Therefore, utilize this header to express the exact position, location and/or vertical market that you’re looking for.
2) Keep Resume Short and Precise:
One of the biggest mistakes is writing a resume as if you were writing an autobiography. Resumes should be brief bullet points outlining your experience. When you’re putting together your resume, imagine that it will be sent to a manager and placed in a pile of 50 additional candidates. If you keep this in mind, then you’ll understand that a novel will never be read. IT Managers may have dozens of resumes to sort through. The average time he or she spends on one resume might be 15-20 seconds. Knowing this, your resume should be precise and to the point (and it should “bleed” the job. See #9 below).
Organize your resume under the following headers: Objective, Skills, Experience, Education and Certifications (or Additional Training, Awards, etc). Hint, you may want to list the Certifications under the Objective so it catches the client’s eye if it pertains to the position you’re applying for)
3) Include Information Technology Key Words:
Do not assume every hiring manager is as technical as you. Therefore, he or she may not be able to infer you have experience with a specific technology based upon your job title. Additionally, most all HR personnel or internal IT recruiters are not technical, so do not assume they know this either. Be sure to list every technology that you confidently have experience with.
Furthermore, most IT recruiters search a job board by skill sets and key words. Therefore, the more technologies you list on your resume, the greater chance your resume has of coming up in a search (thus improving your odds of being considered for a position).
4) Use Power Words / Avoid Using First Person:
Power words provide more impact and will naturally add credibility to your roles and responsibilities. Use action words like “developed,” “managed,” “monitored,” “implemented,” etc. Additionally, never write a resume in first person. The reader obviously knows whom the resume is talking about. Below is an example of avoiding first person and utilizing power words:
Instead of this:
I designed and developed a Windows-based application
Designed & developed a Windows-based application
Your resume should be clean and consistent throughout. For example, if you bold and underline the “Objective,” be sure to do the same with all of the other headers. If you skip one space with between past employments, do the same throughout. The font, size and margins should all be uniform. In addition, don’t be afraid to show some white. Try not to cram all of your information together because you want to fit everything on one or two pages. Cleanliness is more important than trying to keep your resume short.
6) Don’t Be Afraid to Brag:
List all of your accomplishments. If you were highly ranked within your group, company or even school then reference it. If you were named “Employee of the month” or “Team MVP,” list it. The more information you can provide that speaks to your achievements and ability the better. Be sure to include all certifications, awards, education and technical courses as well.
7) Provide Accurate Dates – Months if Possible:
List the months in which you started and ended a position in addition to the year. Be sure you’re accurate with each, as you never know if an employment verification search is a required part of the hiring process. If there are gaps in your employment, then just be prepared to speak about the reasons. Don’t be afraid to be honest and tell the hiring manager that you just could not find a job. However, if the gap is large enough, then be sure to explain where you interviewed or what you did to keep up with your IT job skills. Clients would prefer the honest approach rather than uncover your position was a short-term assignment and/or you were only employed for a small period of time throughout the entire year. In the end, that looks deceitful and could cost you the job.
8) Avoid a Cover Letter:
Believe it or not, we do not recommend cover letters. In our experience, it is a waste of time. Most IT managers have dozens of resumes to sort through. Realistically speaking, they are not going to thoroughly read through each and every one, never mind additional cover letters. Instead focus your energy on your resume, as this is the document that is going to be the difference maker and determine whether or not you are selected for an interview.
9) Tailor Your Resume Towards Each Job:
This is the most important component to creating the “perfect resume.” Every position you apply to is likely a bit different from the next one. Some positions might be geared towards specific technologies or certifications, others might look for vertical market experience (such as banking, legal or medical). Therefore, why send a generic resume to each of them? Instead, tailor your resume towards every job that you submit yourself to. Add key words that match your experience with the IT job description. Tweak your job title to match that of the job posting (without fabricating of course).
By taking an extra couple of minutes to tailor your resume towards each IT job, you will set yourself up for success.
10) Proofread, Proofread, Proofread!
Take the time to thoroughly review your resume. Check for spelling and grammatical errors. Don’t lose out on an opportunity due to an oversight. Taking the extra time to proofread may mean the difference between getting that ever-important first interview.
For more advice, contact an IT Recruiter at AVID Technical Resources: firstname.lastname@example.org or www.avidtr.com