Categorized | Careers & Employment

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The Saga of the Traveling Job Candidate

Posted on 28 April 2009


travelling-salesmanThe old cartoon of the salesman sticking his foot in the door of the house of the potential customer, and the harried homeowner struggling to push him out, has become an enduring and amusing icon in Americana.  Not so enduring has been the process of the job search, which has changed to keep pace with the economy, increasing demands upon productivity and technology.
 
Twenty or thirty years ago, it was possible for a job seeker to walk into a company and hand his or her resume directly to a manager with the authority to hire.  This scenario, however, has gone the way of housewives in starched aprons whipping up four-course dinners every night of the week.  Like the traveling salesman, today’s job candidate often finds himself locked out of the best employment opportunities.  Denied direct, face-to-face access to the hiring authority, the job hopeful must rely upon written documents to open the door for him.
 
Certainly, a resume is central to this objective.  Articulate and keyword-optimized, a resume should present the candidate’s qualifications, skills, and accomplishments – in essence, telling the candidate’s story.  However, without the opportunity to sit across the desk from the hiring manager, the job seeker requires an additional impetus to present his case.  Servicing a function much greater than the simplest of requests to peruse the resume, the cover letter can facilitate the presentation of his background and qualifications.
 
Where the resume should reflect as closely as possible the facts of one’s career, due to its introductory nature, the cover letter permits a more personal voice.  It enables the candidate to communicate more on a one-to-one basis with the prospective employer.  And, while it would not be prudent to reveal one’s love for skydiving or the music of Nine Inch Nails in this manner, the cover letter should suggest one’s work ethic as well as overall strengths.  To further pique the interest of the hiring manager, the letter may allude to its writer’s professional contributions.  Wading into the deepening waters of potential candidates, the job seeker who produces a well-crafted cover letter can assist employers in separating “the wheat from the chaff.”




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