August 5, 2009

Dress To Impress: Tips for Job-Seekers from an HR Professional

[While I'm on a sunny vacation at the shore, a few of the many talented staff members at FineStationery.com will be filling in here at The Finer Things. Today's guest blogger, Kim, is the director of our Human Resources department but wears many hats at FineStationery.com. The following post is a little longer than our usual posts-- but with the current job-market I thought you might appreciate as much expertise from Kim as possible. Enjoy!]

As an HR professional employed at a stationery company – I feel I first need to confess - I can be a bit of a stationery snob. I’m extremely impressed by well-done, quality resumes, cover letters and thank you notes. Delivering an impeccable resume, presenting yourself flawlessly during your interview, and then following up with a thank you note is a 1-2-3 knockout! Don’t overlook the thank you note. It is not only a gesture of courtesy, and demonstrates your social and professional skills - it is also an essential job-seeking technique. In this economy, with so many talented people job searching, you need to project the best image and stand out in a crowd.

You Had Me At Your Resume…

I truly ooh and ahh over well-designed resumes sent by email. Even more so, I just melt over the hard copies, on thick, lush paper that the applicants deliver during their interview. Your resume and cover letter are your first impression and the image you are portraying to a company. Blah, out-of-the-box, template resumes with formatting issues and grammatical errors will bar your entrance to the job of your dreams.

Quick tips:
  • Many of us are currently so inundated with resumes that we utilize search functionality and other technology solutions to whittle down to the most qualified candidates by keywords based on the required skills. Review the job description and be sure to include.
  • Take another look at your resume and then have someone else proofread it! Computer checkers don’t catch everything. First impressions matter.
  • We read cover letters. They set you apart. It proves you have researched our company, feel we are a good match and we aren’t just receiving the 150th resume you are blasting to everyone hiring.
  • Newbies: How disappointing to see a great resume with an email address of lewdlewd@blah.com or to call you and have a really unprofessional greeting or song blaring in my ear, or to check you out on social networks and your content is completely inappropriate. Present a professional image.
Give Thanks and Stand Out in a Crowd….

An email can serve to express immediate gratitude, but should be followed up with a handwritten note for an interview. In How to Say It, by Rosalie Maggio, Maggio writes that “…email is suitable for quick thanks between longtime friends for the loan of a book, a small favor, a light lunch. It can also be used as a down-payment on a “real” thank-you note…”.

Absolutely send a gracious, handwritten, personal note to your interviewer(s).

Quick tips:
  • Write the note immediately – that day if possible
  • Note what you liked about the company, the interview, the position
  • Reemphasize your qualifications and why you are the perfect candidate
  • Address any concerns you may have felt during or after your interview and mention anything you may have not had the opportunity to discuss
  • Keep it concise
  • Close with “Sincerely”, start with “Dear”

Express and Impress - Choosing your stationery:

Choose something simple, classic and versatile for more professional industries and cards with pizazz, bolder designs and motifs for the design field or other appropriate industries.
Have a smaller budget in this economy? Choose a less expensive, but tasteful box of blank thank you notes. No matter, the gesture alone will not be lost on your interviewers.

Call Me!

Many job searchers are reaching out through LinkedIn and other networking sites, but don't neglect in-person networking. These encounters could occur at a ballgame, a dinner party, doing charity work, etc. Be prepared to market yourself to any potential opportunity at any time. Carry personal calling cards to hand out at a moment’s notice. Don’t fumble around for a pen and paper – exchange cards. How impressive!