I hope you all don’t mind, but I am going to ramble a bit tonight about some very important job search issues.
The most important issue I am going to cover is outgoing signatures. If you don’t know what one is, you are already in a lot of trouble. I am considering hitting the delete key on any message I receive from a member of The FENG that doesn’t have an outgoing signature. It would cut my required correspondence to 20%. Yes, about 80% of the messages I get don’t have one.
If you do have an outgoing signature, let me make the point that one should appear even on replies. I realize that Microsoft in their wisdom believes this is unnecessary, but I am going to suggest to you that it is essential. Please unclick the box. Sure I know who I wrote to, but I would like to confirm your contact information. Oops, I have revealed my “evil plan.” There are two reasons I would like you to use an outgoing signature: 1. If you say something important, I would like to call you. 2. I would like to ensure that you are shown correctly in our membership directory.
This is my outgoing signature:
Matthew R. Bud
The Financial Executives Networking Group
32 Gray’s Farm Road
Weston, CT 06883
(203) 227-8965 Office Phone
(203) 820-4667 Cell
(203) 227-8984 Fax
Let me reveal its salient features. 1. You will notice I am providing my “greeting to use.” You don’t have to guess if I go by Matthew or Mr. Bud. 2. I am providing you with my email address. Sure, if you want to copy and paste the “From” box, you can figure it out, but I prefer to make it easy for you. 3. My phone numbers are listed in the order I would like you to dial them. And, yes, I am giving you ALL the numbers where I can be reached because I would actually like you to call me. Duh. 4. You will note that the phone numbers, properly formatted, are on the left, and the label is on the right. This is so the numbers line up. Forgive me for being an accountant about this, but I like numbers to line up. 5. I am providing you with my physical address. No, this is not so you can send me a gift, although you can do that if you like. It is rather so you will know what time zone I am in. With cell phones these days, you don’t know where folks are.
If you write to me, please put in a meaningful subject, trying to avoid those that will identify your message as spam, like Hi. I would also ask that you take a moment before you hit send and check your spelling, grammar and punctuation. While I won’t be sending you a grade, you will make it possible for me to actually understand what it is I can do to help you. If you are prone to using abbreviations, please know that I HATE all abbreviations. I find it rude that anyone would write Rgds instead of Regards for example. If I’m not worth the time to write in complete sentences, why should I feel that you are entitled to my time? You might want to consider this issue with respect to EVERYONE with whom you engage in correspondence.
To finish up on email, the From box should show your name, and your email address should actually be your name, just like it is when you work for a company. And, in this day and age, sharing an email address with your significant other just isn’t done anymore. Please, get with the program. If your address has numbers and letters, you look plain silly, and this isn’t a time to look silly. For those of you with L’s and 1’s in your email address, you might consider the fact that in lowercase Arial, they look alike. If you have O’s and 0’s, I would suggest they are also hard to tell apart. A few years ago one of our members by the name of Goldwater was using AUH2O, or in lowercase, auh2o. Now is that last thing a zero or a letter? A great conversation piece and a touch of humor, but totally out of place in the world of serious business communication.
And now on to resumes. Every resume needs a summary at the top, period. The summary is not unlike your 90-second announcement. It stakes out your territory and enables the reader to better understand what follows. By the way, I HATE the lists that many people use after their summary. I rarely see one that doesn’t contain significant redundancies such as budgeting and then another entry for planning. They are a waste of space. If it is important, put it in words in your summary. By the way, your summary should be brief.
Every resume needs a physical address and your email address. Hard to believe, but there is a growing trend of resumes without a physical address. May I ask, are you sleeping in a car? If you are, put in where you keep it parked. And back to email addresses, they should be your name and you should uppercase and lowercase them for readability, as in MattBud@TheFENG.org.
Resumes should be either 2 or 3 pages, NEVER 1 1/2 or 2 1/2. If you are a member of The FENG and have 20 years of experience, your experience CAN’T properly fit on one page. And by the way, you know that 8pt font thing that many of you use? DON’T. Perhaps your eyes are getting better, but mine aren’t. NO ONE can or actually does read a resume in 8pt type. Use 12pt type and do a little editing. I know you may think that everything you want to say about yourself is important, but you will find that if you focus, you will be able to remove the unimportant and the result will be better. As an added plus, someone might actually read it. Don’t make a final page that just has your education. I find this approach silly, but I’m sure it is recommended somewhere because I see it all the time.
All of your work experience needs to be on your resume. While the last 10 years are the most important, leaving off your earlier work experience or the dates you were there makes you look old. Yes, I know if you put it down they will know you are old, but don’t you think they will find out sooner or later? And, if you are successful in fooling someone, don’t you think they will feel duped when they meet you? How exactly are you planning to recover from making them feel stupid? If you provide dates, including your dates of graduation from college, most people breeze right past the fact that you are likely older than time itself. Missing information on the other hand screams OLD. I see people leaving off dates that I think are young (now that I am 71). (Oh, to be in my 40’s again.) Dates should be year ranges, not months. Months are like subtracting Roman numerals, and I missed that day in 3rd grade.
Every company needs a one line definition, even companies you think everyone knows. Most jobs fall to industry, and the folks who do initial screening are often not as knowledgeable as you are. (That’s why they’re stuck reviewing resumes.) What industry and what size was the firm and/or your division? Help the reader know if you are a fit. Make their life easy.
If you don’t actually know how to type, have someone go over your formatting. Page breaks need to be forced. What looks right on your computer may split differently on mine. Bolding in a consistent manner will aid in readability. Also, your name needs to be on every page.
Since you are for the most part emailing your resume, your file name should be something like BudMatthewR.doc. (Use YOUR name, of course, or people will get confused.) I have been recommending this approach for quite a few years, and I find it hard to believe that hardly anyone can get it right. They send us files like budmatthew.doc or bud.doc. It really isn’t that hard to get it right. You’re an accountant. I would think you could follow a pattern.
Item last is our membership requirements. I know this will come as a shock to everyone, but we are a very senior level group. Please don’t encourage those early in their careers to fill out an application form. I normally look for at least 15-20 years of work experience. I also look for senior level titles held for a significant period of time. One of the most painful things for me is to disappoint one of your friends. I would also remind you that we are known as The Financial Executives Networking Group. The financial in our name isn’t financial services. Yes, I know that just about anyone could benefit from getting to know our members, but our membership is not open to sales executives, human resource professionals, lawyers, or information technology types. I love them dearly and they are all very nice people, but I will not be adding them to our membership. PLEASE, take a moment and actually read the resume of anyone you are sending to our website to ensure they qualify. It will save me time and it will save you from being embarrassed when I decline them membership.
That’s about it for tonight. I hope I didn’t rant too much.