Adding Shine to your Resume, Cover Letter and
The introduction from the book....
For all of you who lack experience with the job search process, it has been a growing passion of mine to help you, and job seekers like you, to improve your understanding of what to write, say, and do during your job hunt. This passion started to crystallize when I became involved at the University of Chicago, my alma mater, working with students who were seeking employment in the financial services industry.
What I realized from my involvement with these students was that the techniques they had developed to be successful in academic life were of little help in the job search process. In fact, I would argue that what they need to know to be successful in their job hunt is the antithesis of what they are being taught in class. Specifically, they are learning to think theoretically, to seek truth and to be self-critical and introspective. I am in no way condemning the modern educational system. Quite the opposite, for I am a great fan of a liberal arts education and the development of thoughtful argument and independent thinking. However, when I am reading resumes and cover letters, or interviewing prospective hires to come work on my team, these traits do not get candidates very far. On the contrary, I am looking for real-life experiences, conciseness, attention to detail, organized thought, competitiveness, self-confidence, and salesmanship, none of which is emphasized in most academic environments.
This book is designed to help young job seekers understand what someone in my position is looking for in a job candidate and to teach them to effectively market and present their skill sets.
It should have value to job searchers of all levels and, perhaps, to those on the other side of the hiring process. However, it is written specifically for those first-time job seekers who have their college pedigrees but little else of substance to offer a potential employer. My goal in writing this book is to help you get the most out of what you have and present it in a way that prospective employers will be able to translate into a possible fit with their firm. Hopefully, in the process, you will surprise yourself with how many skills you already possess that are marketable in the business world. With a little polish, we will make these skills easy for prospective employers to see.
I do cover some theoretical constructs, but the book focuses more attention on the “do’s and don’ts” of the hiring process. It is intended to help job seekers avoid the common pitfalls (the “don’ts”) which will doom their candidacy. The premise is that most people have the raw skills necessary to be successful in their job search; they just need to polish their resumes, cover letters and interviewing skills (the “do’s”) to make their skill set shine, and ultimately put them in the best possible position to get the job for which they are best suited.
My qualifications for writing this book are mainly attributed to my many years participating in the recruiting process. I am neither a human resource professional nor a professional recruiter. More important, I would argue, I have been the one who actually makes the hiring decisions. Since I am the one who has had to live directly with the successes and failures of the hiring process, I have developed a keen sense of the individual characteristics and personal traits that lead to job success.
In my twenty years in the financial services industry, even as a senior executive, I have taken an unusually direct role in recruiting. I firmly believe that a well-functioning recruitment process is an integral part of any growing business. While a managing director at Goldman Sachs and a partner at Hull Trading, I was actively involved in the on-campus recruiting process at a number of top-tier schools such as Carnegie Mellon, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Throughout my career, I have reviewed many thousands of resumes and cover letters and have performed over five hundred first- and second-round interviews.
In addition, over the last three years, I have conducted job skills workshops for undergraduates at the University of Chicago and have personally mentored many of these students in their job searches. In fact, many of the examples in this book are derived from my experience working with these students.
This book represents my views and observations, and though I believe these to be widely supported by other professionals in the business community, some may disagree. This, unfortunately, is one of the biggest problems that all first-time job seekers face. There are no laws or undisputed truths that can be applied to determine the likelihood of a successful hire. In the end, the hiring process is highly subjective. There are only personal judgments and imperfect heuristics, which may differ widely from one human resource professional or decision maker to another. I believe I can enlighten you, the job seeker, about potential imperfections and help you position yourself for success, but there will always be a fair amount of uncertainty and luck involved in the process.
The outline of this book is quite straightforward. First, I will address some of the key philosophical/theoretical points which have overall importance to the recruiting process. I start with a visit to the Oracle of Delphi (Chapter I) to learn about the tenets “Know Thyself” and “Nothing in Excess.” Next, I describe the recruiting process from the perspective of a recruiter (Chapters II and III) before I delve headfirst into the “Dos and Don’ts” of adding polish to your cover letter (Chapter IV), resume (Chapter V) and interview skills (Chapter VI). These sections are rich with real-life experiences. Finally, I conclude with personal observations about the job search process, such as the importance of corporate culture, and the advantages of small firms versus large firms (Chapter VII). Getting the job is only the first step! It is even better if you start your career off in the right direction.