One of the most important skills you bring to the party as a financial person is your ability to read and follow directions. If you accept this as being true, I can only wonder why so many members fail to carefully read the information so clearly presented in the postings that appear in our newsletter.
As I am sure all of you know, I post a lot of opportunities for clients of The FECG in our newsletter. I have come up with a few simple rules that I feel not only work for our types of assignments, but I hope are logical steps someone responding to ANY lead from any source should follow as well.
It is not reasonable for me or anyone else to expect you as a candidate to create a totally original response to one of my postings, and I don’t have that expectation. That said, it would be nice if everyone took the time to read all postings in our newsletter in which they had interest and confirmed before clicking send that they have tried their best, in the context of their available time, to answer the queries that have been posed and the requests that have been made.
A few examples. First let me suggest a file naming convention: LastNameFirstNameMI.doc, as in BudMatthewR.doc. The reason this is important, and I hope you will do this for every posting you answer, is that it prevents your resume from getting lost or over written when you send it in. Let’s assume that they actually want to save your resume for future reference. If it is resume.doc, guess what? That is the name more people use than you can imagine. There is also the ever popular Resume-Rev.57.doc. (Wow, he really worked on that one!)
A second request I make is to only attach one file. Every file someone has to open takes time. If you send a cover letter as an attached file and your resume, I may not know which one is which. And, the people I have seen do it don’t seem to have a good sense of how to establish their file naming conventions. As a general rule, your email is your cover note.
Have I ever mentioned outgoing signatures? (Surely not more than once a week.) How the heck am I supposed to get in touch with you? You would be surprised how many people do not provide ALL of their possible phone numbers on their resume. When I want to talk to you, I want to talk to you. I will call ALL of your phone numbers until I track you down. Why? Because at the moment I am calling you, I have all the information I need to communicate to you in front of me. If you call me back later, I may actually be working on something else. (I have been known to try to keep busy during the day. An old habit I learned when I worked for the “great corporation.”)
Did the posting ask for your compensation? Look, if you don’t want to give away any military secrets, that’s fine. At least provide a range. I will work for food is also a good response. (Just kidding.) Don’t make the range too broad, but money is important to you and to those doing the hiring. If you don’t want to put down your past compensation, put down the range you would consider. I always ask how much you want. I feel what you previously earned is your business.
How exactly do you fit this job anyway? Look, no one expects you to rewrite your resume for every posting. It would be nice if you did, especially if the fit is good and your resume has been generalized, but a cover note can make the link. If you are applying for a job out of town and there is no relocation, be sure to explain that “elephant sitting in the room” even though they don’t directly ask.
And finally, my favorite: Dear Sir or Madam. In the context of reading, did the person ask for you to write to them and provide you with their name? How rude and thoughtless you look to not have taken a few seconds to check the name of the “hiring authority.” Aren’t you annoyed when they write back: Dear Applicant?
Put those “dotting the I’s and crossing T’s” skills to work and let your reader know that you are well versed in “Reading and Following Directions.”