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5. "Dear Human Resources" is so NOT going to get you the job.
I used to fuss over my résumé. I worried about the spelling, the length, the alignment of margins—but never the cover letter stapled to the top of it. Then one magical day eight years later, I got to be on the other end of the situation. I got to pick who selected the candidates to interview. I sat there, flipping through the stack of résumés. My superior looked at me puzzled. Her thinking (which was better than my thinking) was that the cover letter was this wondrous blank space where an individual was allowed to paint a portrait of themselves in words. They could be funny or thoughtful, quirky or intelligent. They could also be boring, braggy, arrogant or timid. The cover letter was the person you were going to be working with for the next three to four years. The résumé was just what they had done. Which—suddenly and horrifying—explained why I had only gotten jobs via some fluke meeting, and not by actually applying. I had come off like a person who says, "in so far as" and "attached you will find my résumé" and "I look forward to hearing from you." I'm not saying you have to get jazzy with fonts or ink colors. But you do need to be who you are—not somebody who sounds kind of like somebody else who might have once starred on Masterpiece Theatre.


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