The Job Search: What You May Need to Know and Probably Would Not Be Told

by Jack McCann, PhD, Dean | 423.869.6298 |

Knowing your product is the key to finding a job in today’s tough economic times.

It is critical for job seekers. The resume is only a starting point to knowing and selling your product (you), and yes, it is required. However, it is not magic and no, it will not get you the job. Yet without a good one, it could keep you from getting the job or from getting the interview. The same applies to the cover letter.

The Reality of Cover Letters

Cover letters are limited in value and there are three reasons that cover letters limited in value.

First, many job seekers assume that the cover letter is actually read before the resume. Wrong. Ask those who spend any portion of the work day reviewing resumes they typically go past the cover letter directly to the resume and only look at the cover letter if they are still interested after their initial resume review. It is actually rather amusing to watch a Hiring Manager reading a newly arrived resume. The cover letter is put to the side, and the resume is scanned first then read. You know there is interest if they finally make their way back to the cover letter.

Second, job seekers assume that the cover letter should be about you. Wrong again. It should be about the company, your prospect, your target. Your resume will tell them everything they need to know about you assuming that it is well written. If you are interested enough in the company to make an initial contact, take the time to fully reflect your understanding of the company and how you may be able to meet their needs in your cover letter. Connect the dots-how will you satisfy a need that the company has?

Third, and most important, many college students and job seekers end up using the cover letter/resume mass mailing/e-mailing/posting as a crutch to convince themselves that they are actually doing something in their job search. “But I sent out over two hundred resumes!” In reality, all they are doing is generating rejection letters. Mass mailing/e-mailing/posting of your cover letter and resume has extremely low odds for success in today’s job market.

Please understand that at the entry level a resume and cover letter on their own do little good. Many larger companies have established recruiting programs which serve as the focal point of entry level hiring. Therefore, unsolicited entry level resumes are often ignored. Many small and medium-sized companies do not have the internal resources necessary to train entry level hires, so the entry level resumes are simply filed. The best you can hope for in a blind mailing campaign is that you will be filed away and perhaps miraculously resurrected at some future date. Highly unlikely.

The Goals of Resumes and Cover Letters

  • Remember your objective is to get an interview!
  • During the first interview your objective is to get the second interview!
  • Always send a thank you letter and request a second interview

Tips for Job Seekers

  • Focus on specific job openings
  • Know about the company that you are applying to
  • Know what jobs are available
  • Know the name of the hiring manager
  • Work the job search as a job and do not give up, because you will find a job
  • Remember that when you take a job that your reputation and your name and future opportunities are based on how seriously that you take your job and how well you perform is important and it will follow you into your future jobs.

Job Searching through Networks

Job seekers need to use a focused search using networks. Networking can play an invaluable role in a job search. Networking is the most successful job search technique. Networking is simply "talking to people." When people say you should network, they mean you should talk to people. People are happy to help others if they can. You need to be clear about HOW you'd like their help and clear about what you're looking for.

Best of luck and good job hunting!

Author Bio

Dr. McCann is the Dean of the LMU School of Business. He teaches human resources, management, and strategy at LMU. Questions can be directed to Dr. McCann.