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Career and job search help for creative professionals.

Career and job search help for creative professionals.

Blue Sky Resumes is a small team of professional writers and job search experts. We offer one-of-a-kind resumes, smart career advice and fantastic customer service. This is our blog.


Why you Must Personalize Your Applications


I just posted a small web design job on getafreelancer.com. Not surprisingly, given the state of the economy, we have been inundated with responses – far more than we got the last time I posted something like this. I just spent an hour skimming through them and of the 30 bids I reviewed, ONLY ONE was in any way personalized. Only one person showed any signs of having read my brief and looked at the attached files.

I’m looking for a design only (no coding) and I specifically said this in my posting. Yet several people have sent me links to look at their previous coding projects. The others have sent me links to work samples that bear no relation to what I’m looking for.

Their emails to me include things like “we have 5 years of experience coding large scale websites.” Great! If I ever need to code a large website, I’ll know just who to call! But right now, I need a web designer to create a Photoshop file for me – JUST LIKE I DESCRIBED IN MY AD!

This is exactly what it’s like to wade through job applications. It’s almost always as though no one even read your ad. You search and search for that resume or cover letter or e-mail introduction that screams “I know just what you need and I can help” but you rarely see it.

That’s where you can set yourself apart. Please, please, please make sure your cover letter or email introduction specifically addresses the needs of the employer and edit your resume to address the requirements in the job posting. If they say ‘experience in new channel development’ is the most important requirement for a sales person, make sure your 5 years of doing that is highly visible.

You can guess which designer I’m hiring.

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About the Author

Louise Fletcher

Louise co-founded Blue Sky in 2002 after a career as an HR executive. Her industry experience includes music, video games, fashion and advertising. She lived and worked in the US for many years, but moved back to her native UK in 2012, where she now lives in the Yorkshire countryside. In addition to her full-time role with Blue Sky, she's a professional artist, so you can imagine why she couldn't answer the 'what do you do with your free time' question! Contact Louise by email.

6 comments on “Why you Must Personalize Your Applications”

  1. mose says:

    One of the toughest things I have found – in what feels like over 300 years in business – is to try and get folks to do things right. People are bright, smart and creative. Sadly, however, we are people. We are humans. And tend to resist change and are lazy.

    When I see a situation like this I am not surprised.

    There is a huge, pressing need to change the way we behave. I am not going to slog youngsters cause I have seen as many older folks guilty of what I call rampant laziness. Whether laziness is caused by the fast pace we live in or simply poor work ethics caused by corporations not caring and the fact people know when they send out a resume 99.9% of the time it is lost in space. Ads really aren’t how one gets a job, no? Fer instance – you could fill this post with 4 phone calls to trusted associates.

    We are creatures of habit and we must replace a bad habit with a good habit each day. However we need someone to help us there. We need mentors, leaders and folks that can be looked to for good solid advice.

    Speaking of advice – and please take this in the spirit it is offered … Instead of getting a wee bit upset (as I read between the lines) offer some examples of how someone could personalize a resume.

    A lot of folks won’t heed your advice but some will. And remember “you simply can’t fix stupid.”

    So, marshall on – no need to get upset – folks have been like this since we allowed and rewarded mediocre in our schools.

    Good luck

    pete

  2. Louise says:

    Hi Pete,
    I’m really not that upset! But I wanted to write about this while my reactions were fresh because I think it’s important for job seekers to get a glimpse into how things look from the other side of the desk. I promise to write more about how to adapt resumes at a future time – but my free e-course is also always available (see sidebar).

  3. Silvia says:

    I not only personalize my cover letters, but also my resume a bit, because there are different accomplishments I want to highlight for different positions. I also take note of the terms used in the ad and change my resume accordingly. E.g., instead of “psychiatric patients” the ad talked about “people facing the challenge of mental illness”. For certain nonprofits, I highlight my antioppressive stance, whereas that might not be appropriate for other positions.

    Yes, I know it’s a big recession and it’s really tough to get a job. But when I read posts like this, I do think I’m near the head of the pack just by following some basic principles.

  4. Gary Capone says:

    I couldn’t agree more with your post. I receive resumes every day that clearly show the sender put no time or thought into the email. One of the worst was from a candidate that used a free email service that places an ad at the bottom of every email. That’s not a problem, except the candidate didn’t have a message – just the ad. I nearly deleted it as spam.

    A little personalization goes a long way and will help ensure that the reader actually reads some of the resume.

    Gary

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