Job descriptions, especially the ones that go on for pages and pages, have to make you smile.
That said, with my many years of experience in the Advertising business, I am a big fan of long copy. Long copy sells. In the context of position descriptions posted in our newsletter I believe it gives our members sufficient information so that they can disqualify themselves if they honestly aren’t a fit.
The longer the job description, the more likely you will get a good sense of the REAL responsibilities of the job. Most of the ones that catch your eye, I have no doubt that you can do.
The more appropriate question to keep in mind is do you have a reasonable chance to be selected. We operate on “qualified members only.” It is the phrase that begins all of the postings that appear under my name and I hope if you are kind enough to send a posting in that you will put it at the beginning of yours. To the degree that you routinely choose to buy a lottery ticket, you run the risk of killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. If we don’t hold down our responses and end up bombing the many members of the search community who have trusted me and other members when we promise you won’t, you will end up seeing fewer opportunities.
However, is it possible that anyone has all of the “must haves” you see in any specific position description? Most likely not.
Still, most jobs fall to primarily industry experience, location and skill set requirements. If they need an Internal Auditor and you have never held that title, it isn’t likely you will be selected even though Internal Auditor’s may be in short supply. In addition, if the job is in Minneapolis and you are living in Los Angeles, you are at a disadvantage. That disadvantage can be offset a bit if you write a little explanation in your cover note. Perhaps you went to school where the job is located, grew up there, or better yet, have family there. All of those are winning explanations. If they say no relocation, make it clear that this is not an issue. Don’t leave it to their imaginations. (The reason is that they may not have any.)
The same thing is true in terms of industry experience. If you read between the lines of the position description and think you can draw an analogy between your background and the industry in which the job exists, your cover letter is the place to do it. Keep in mind that readers of resumes can sometimes figure it out on their own, but I wouldn’t count on it. If you know that one type of manufacturing process has common characteristics with some seemingly unrelated manufacturing described in the position description, take the time to explain.
I would mention again the very difficult challenge that more often than not, your resume stands alone.
Anyone who doesn’t follow each and every company on their resume with a one sentence explanation is likely to miss out on a large number of opportunities. Sure, I wasn’t born yesterday and have been reading business periodicals since I was in my youth, but many of those who screen resume WERE born yesterday. Make their job easy. They may be young and inexperienced, but they are probably able to read.
Can clients find someone who is Superman? Probably not. But, in today’s market they can come darn close. Make sure they know that you are one in the same person by tailoring your responses to get the best result.
Perhaps you will even be able to leap tall email systems in a single bound!