Career Report
February, 2012 — Issue 144


Out-of-Date Job-Search Tactics

In today’s highly competitive job market, workers seeking new positions need to make sure their searches are as flawless as possible. One way to do this is by steering clear of job search tactics that can be viewed as out-of-date. According to a Fortune magazine article, using them can make you look out-of-touch and can make a hiring manager lose interest in you very fast.

Here from the business publication’s workplace columnist are five formerly useful, now dangerous, job-search approaches that hark back to an earlier age. If you are still using any of them, the columnist advises, get them out of your job-search repertoire, pronto.

1. Dedicated Résumé Paper and Envelopes. If you’re presenting a hard copy of your résumé (as a supplement to an electronic version), don’t use colored or fancy paper, or any other kind of special paper or matching envelopes. Dedicated-use résumé paper is a 1980’s artifact. Since most of your résumés will reach employers electronically, the employers will print them out. For résumés you print on your own, use plain white bond paper. Keep résumé formatting simple; you don’t need horizontal lines or curlicues, unless you are yourself a creative person — in which case you can go hog-wild with artistic expression. What matters in your résumé is its content.

2. Creaky Cover Letter Language. When addressing a cover letter, never use “Dear Sir or Madam” or its cousin “To Whom it May Concern.” In many cases you can find the name of a hiring manager on a company website or by using LinkedIn. Otherwise, you can call the company and ask for the correct contact name. Correspondence that begins “To Whom It May Concern” means death to a job search; “Dear Hiring Manager” is just as bad.

3. Here’s Why You Should Hire Me. People get hired when a hiring manager believes, intellectually and emotionally, that the person sitting in front of him or her can do the job. It isn’t a linear process. That’s not great news to people who believe that power comes from their degrees and certifications because those folks are often more comfortable pushing their skills out in front of them than sitting and talking with a manager in a way that inspires confidence and trust. But tons of job-search books and articles, nonetheless, encourage job-seekers to grovel and beg, as though any manager has ever been convinced of an applicant’s heft and power by hearing the applicant say: “Please hire me—I’ll do anything you want!”

Groveling doesn’t work, which is why compiling and mailing goofy lists such as “here are 10 reasons you should hire me” are terrible things to do. When you write a post-interview thank-you note or e-mail, you should use it to continue the substantive conversation that started during a job interview, not to sound like you a begging for a job. You never, ever want to construct lists of reasons an employer should hire you. You won’t convince anyone of your value that way. If the reasons to hire don’t come through in an interview, you’ve already missed the boat.

4. Endless Bullets. It used to be the thing to create long lists of bullets following each job listed in your résumé. Nowadays, though, time and attention are in short supply. Limit yourself to two or three bullets for each of your past jobs. A short, bulleted point that highlights what you’ve accomplished (e.g. “When our two biggest rivals merged, I launched a grass-roots e-mail marketing campaign that ramped sales 20 percent)—beats the heck out of long lists of tasks and duties or general statements like “solved tricky customer service issues.”

Use your résumé to tell your story. Give it a human voice, a breezy tone, and quick, pithy stories to bring your power across on the page. No one cares about your daily tasks. Most of hiring managers can extrapolate those from your job titles, anyway.

5. Gratuitous Research. There used to be a tendency for eager job-seekers to try to win gold stars from hiring managers for their teacher’s-pet-type preparation, research, and general submissiveness. Sure, it’s always appropriate to learn about the companies you’re targeting for your job search, and LinkedIn, ZoomInfo,, and other company-research sites make that task easier. But your research should have value for what it tells you about your next employer’s business situation, recent changes, and competitive challenge.

The last thing you want to do as a job-seeker is seek brownie points by whipping out a file folder full of clippings at an interview or by saying, “I spent the weekend researching your company.” That’s groveling. Rather, you should act as a consultant and business adviser during a job search. Do whatever research you need to do—and keep quiet about it. If you ask a pithy, research-fueled question like “What’s your take on the Acme Explosives-Toontown Motors merger that’s got to be having some ripple effects for your firm,” you’re advancing a business conversation, not trying to get a pat on the head.

In summary, watch out for these five destructive job-search practices, and you’ll be unstoppable, the article concluded. A wise individual once told the Fortune columnist: “When people are in themselves fully, they’re larger than life.” So, the article advises, get out of your head, show up on a job search to experience the moment, and see what great things result.

News from BLK

Berman Larson Kane continues to move various applications to a new cloud based technology platform. We are confident that this will improve communication with our clients and also help identify the best samples of talent the market has to offer. We are already witnessing a war for talent in the technology sales arena and technology positions.

Our free Job-Seeker webinar series continues to receive rave reviews and we look forward to continuous sponsorship of these programs through the remainder of the year. We also welcome the MIS Network Group every Tuesday evening to assist those in transition and welcome a new PHR certification review program to our office on Thursday evenings. It is our pleasure to offer these community services improving employment prospects for those in transition.

As the unemployment rate continues to recede and job creation numbers grow, we look forward to a prosperous year for our clients, job-seekers and BLK. Thank you so much for your support.