Q: I understand that the self-initiated job search is the most effective means of finding employment. However, how much time and effort should be devoted to responding to job ads? What’s the best way to respond to ads? Is it better to omit a resume even though it’s requested? What’s the best way to discuss salary history?
A: You’re correct in assuming that a self-initiated job search (finding a job through contacts) is the best way to look for a new position. In fact, its overall success rate usually is very high. Job ads, on the other hand, yield jobs for a much smaller percentage of the people using them. Keep that in mind when trying to decide how much time to give them.
Consider, too, that job ads represent 10 to 15 percent of all available jobs and tend to cluster in areas such as sales, administrative support, accounting, engineering, nursing and programming, where applicant supply is less than demand. If you are looking for something a little different or want to change careers, you probably won’t find what you’re looking for in an ad. But don’t avoid them entirely. They obviously work for some people.
Respond to an ad by supplying what it requests. If you’re asked to send a resume with salary history, do it or risk being round-filed. Other approaches, such as cleverly written broadcast letters probably won’t get you far. If you choose to play the job-ad game, you must follow the rules set by employers.
Be sure to put together a resume and cover letter tailored as much as possible to the listed job. If the ad mentions specific qualifications and duties, try to show how your background and experience pertain to them. Sending the same resume to everyone is unlikely to get you many replies. People who receive a stack of resumes choose only the most pertinent. They aren’t interested in reading between the lines to spot potential talent.
You can try omitting salary history by stating that compensation is negotiable, if you are willing to risk it. However, you may be eliminated for not giving the information requested.
Taunee Besson, CMF, is president of Career Dimensions, Inc., a consulting firm founded in 1979, which works with individual and corporate clients in career change; job search; executive, small business and life coaching; college major selection and talent management.
“One of the smartest minds in the career field,” according to Tony Lee (VP of CareerCast Operations at Adicio and former publisher of the Wall Street Journal’s Online Vertical Network), Besson began writing for the Dallas Times Herald in the early 80s. Having read several of her columns, Lee asked her to contribute regular articles to the Journal’s National Business Employment Weekly (NBEW) as well. Since then, she has been a triple award-winning columnist for CareerJournal.com and Senior Columnist for CareerCast.com, as well as WorkingWoman.com and Oxygen.com. At Lee’s request, Besson authored five editions of NBEW’s Premier Guide to Resumes and three of its Premier Guide to Cover Letters. She has also written articles and/or been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Business Week, Time, Smart Money and Yahoo among others.
Taunee has worked on community nonprofit boards and committees for over 30 years including Girls Inc., Women’s Center of Dallas, Girl Scouts and Dallas Women’s Foundation, The Volunteers of America and Mortarboard, among others. She was a member of the Leadership Dallas in 1987 and Leadership America in 2003.
In 1994, the Dallas Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development chose her as its “Professional of the Year”. Her NBEW columns were selected for the “Ten Best Article Award” in 1990, 1994 and 1997. In 1999, Alpha Gamma Delta, a 200,000 member fraternal organization, named her as one of three “Distinguished Citizens” at its biannual international convention.Published by Conselium Executive Search, the global leader in compliance search.