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Job Searching? The Importance of Reading the Instructions

Often when people initiate a job search, they prepare a cover letter and resume, print off a ton of copies and send them out en masse – with “To Whom It May Concern” as an opening line.

As someone who does the hiring for our family’s small business, my feeling is that the application materials represent the character of the applicant. They reflect his or her attitudes, habits and personality. For that reason, when I review application materials, I immediately toss those where instructions aren’t followed, requested information is forgotten, or ideas are not clearly communicated.

If things are spelled incorrectly, it’s obvious it wasn’t proofed, references don’t check out, or the paper and font is unusual, they go in the trash.

That may sound harsh, but the fact is that when a company hires anyone, they are making a tremendous investment. A company not only pays employees, covers health care, contributes to 401k’s and provides perks, but training takes an enormous amount of time and resources. Add to that the fact that each employee will represent the company and it makes sense that employers are so selective.

I’ve also been on the other side of the desk as a job seeker and I understand how exhausting it is to customize everything. I know how tempting it is to take a shortcut or rush through things. The trick is to see your job search from a new perspective.  Imagine you’re entering each cover letter and resume into a contest.  The prize is $500,000.

The fact is, that’s really what you’re doing. When you land the perfect job, you really have hit the jackpot.  When you’re filling out applications and submitting your CV or resume, think of it as you would a contest or grant proposal and you’ll be far more likely to carefully customize and win your potential employer over.

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