Rising above the slush pile

Resume season is in full swing. Three to four a week have been finding their way into my email box since the first of the year. Many are from soon-to-be grads trying to get the jump on the job market. Others are from more experienced pros looking to change situations or sometimes even careers. Regardless, the majority don’t get a passing glance. That’s because most of the candidates make rookie mistakes that result in an immediate DQ.

If you, or someone you know, want to stand out from the crowd, please follow the simple recommendations below. Even though we’re not hiring at the moment, a remarkable resume can only help. After all, we have been known to make the occasional exception.

  1. Do your homework – Addressing your inquiry “Dear Sir/Madam” or “To Whom it May Concern” won’t cut it. Take a few minutes to research our website to get the name of a company principal or, better yet, department head.
  2. Don’t mass email – This goes hand-in-hand with No. 1. Please don’t lump us in with everyone else. We like to think we’re special.
  3. Make sure it’s pristine – Nothing will get your document 86’d faster than spelling and grammatical errors. Imagine is a communications company (it’s in our name); we take great pains to check and double-check all correspondence before it leaves our offices. You should do the same.
  4. Resist the temptation to fudge – Let’s say you make it through the preliminary rounds and we’re thinking about bringing you in for an interview. Please know that we’ll do a thorough background check first. If you claim to have worked at a job for three years and it turns out to be more like three months (or even one year), you’re outta here.
  5. Beware the online resume – Your social media posts speak volumes. If your Facebook or Instagram photos mainly depict you guzzling Wild Turkey out of a ten-gallon hat, we’ll pass. (Besides, we’re more partial to Irish whiskey.)
  6. Impress us – Applying for a graphic design job? Make your resume pretty. Copy writer? Blow us away with the best darned wordsmithing we’ve ever seen. PR? Tell us how your grandfather founded “USA Today.”
  7. Make it personal – If there’s something you sincerely like about our company, let us know. Why do you absolutely need to work here? What makes our magnetic attraction so irresistible? Be authentic; my business partner Alex has a highly evolved BS detector.

That’s it. Follow these simple rules (and have mad skills) and we’ll keep your resume on file. When a job opens up, that’s the first place we look.

Brian Rouff is managing partner at Imagine Communications. He can be reached at brouff@weareimagine.com.

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