Q. I’m applying for my first job after college and I can’t believe that companies are still using job application forms. Is it okay if I just attach or send my resume? It has all the information they are looking for.
Companies often ask job applicants to fill out a form detailing the same work history and education that appears on the applicant’s resume. You must fill out the form. The form may be entered in a computerized applicant tracking system; it may be used for a quick comparison of candidates; or it might simply be a required piece of paper.
Q. I know you are supposed to tell the whole truth on a resume but when I put down everything I’ve accomplished or learned over the years, I have a 6 page resume. What can I do?
Editing is not lying. I have often used this comparison to explain the difference to job applicants: On your wedding day, you will be dressed up. That dressed up you is still you—but you have “edited” your wardrobe so that you look your best. Resumes are exactly the same: they show you at your best. That means you want to keep in the information that shows what a good fit you are for the job and the company; edit the rest. While your career history is important, your earliest accomplishments may have become dated or irrelevant. Some skills may be irrelevant to your current career or may not be the skills you want to emphasize.
Q. You keep saying that job seekers should write their resumes for the job they want. But what if I don’t know the job I want? I graduate in May and have no idea what I am interested in.
Hiring managers and recruiters need to fill specific jobs with specific requirements; they do not look to see if there is a job in the entire universe a random job applicant might be suited for. That’s something you need to figure out. A career coach should help you. Your school may have a career coach on campus. Another option is to speak to the teachers in the classes you enjoyed most. They may have ideas about how your interests translate to a job (or to further education). Finally, write a list of your skills and education and begin searching online for jobs that require that background. You may be surprised at the range of jobs you are qualified for.
Q. I know recruiters search online for information about candidates. Do I have to display my entire life on Facebook and other social sites just so recruiters can find me?
Your online presence should be professional. What you do in your private life, with family and friends, is your own business and certainly does not have to be shared online. You may be more comfortable with professional networking sites like LinkedIn. I recommend that you join a site like LinkedIn for four reasons. Professional sites offer excellent opportunities for you to (a) network with others and perhaps find a job that has not even been posted yet; (b) find jobs that are posted (LinkedIn is the number one job board in the country); (c) enable employers to check you out (they are more likely to believe what you post on LinkedIn than in your resume since it is public); and (d) help recruiters and other hiring managers to find you through a search.