Terri Zeh Jacobson, president of Long Lake-based Resources for Small Business (www.resources4smallbiz.com), a small-business management consulting and software training company, recently placed an ad for a consulting position with her company. The ad asked applicants to e-mail her four things: a resume, a cover letter, salary requirements and references.
Seems simple enough, but of the 200 applicants, only 10 actually sent in the four things Zeh Jacobson asked for in the ad.
"It was really fascinating to me to go through this process," says Zeh Jacobson. "Many applicants thought their way of doing things was better, that for some reason the specifics of the ad weren't important. They were wrong, because the ad was also like a test. If they can't get me the things I ask for in an ad, they must not want the job very badly. If they can't follow directions, what type of employee will they be?"
The fact is, employers want specific information when placing job ads. If the ad says send salary requirements and references – do it. If the ad asks for a cover letter – send it. Some people think going against the grain and doing things their own way will make them stand out. Think again.
"It was frustrating and time-consuming to go through these resumes," says Zeh Jacobson. "Sometimes people get lazy, and it shows."
What also surprised Zeh Jacobson were the number of spelling errors, typos and inflated skills the resumes appeared to have. One person sent in a resume with no name on it. Another spelled her name differently on the cover letter and the resume. Others had references who didn't even know who the person was.
Zeh Jacobson says it's also important to give appropriate titles to resumes and cover letters sent via e-mail attachments. She said about 90 percent simply labeled their resume as "resume.doc" or "coverletter.doc."
"Putting your name on those attachments is important – that does help you stand out from the rest of the crowd," says Zeh Jacobson.
So does following all the requirements of the ad. Seems simple enough, doesn't it?
Matt Krumrie is a freelance writer from Inver Grove Heights, MN,and has seven years of experience reporting on the employment industry. The first Sunday of each month this column will answer readers' questions.E-mail questions or subject ideas for this column to AskMatt@startribune.com.