As an HR professional I cannot tell you how many résumés I have received from candidates that were so unqualified, so out of reach, so uninteresting to me as a hiring manager as to make me look twice to see if I was putting them in the right pile for the right job.  As a career strategist, I am surprised sometimes when a candidate says, I want to be an investment banker, (Of course not many of them say that anymore, but that is different story...), and I think to myself and usually tell them out loud, You have a better shot at being the next Miss America than getting hired by an investment bank.

Introspection is a critical part of your job search.  Before you send your résumé to every opening you find, you should sit quietly and ask yourself whether YOU would hire YOU if YOU were the hiring manager.  If you feel like you are close, than go ahead and submit, otherwise ...

Does My Background Meet Your Needs?

As I consider my credentials, I am looking at the job description to determine if my background represents a good fit for the position. According to the description provided by your company, it seems (at least on paper) that my qualifications fit. I possess the core competencies, which include leading a large team, managing complex projects, and drafting processes and procedures to streamline the operation. Also highly important and relevant, my efforts have been instrumental in adding a new revenue stream for my employer. Having been recognized with industry awards, I demonstrated excellence in my field. From the looks of things, my background is a clear match; so I expect that once I submit my résumé and cover letter I will be invited in for an interview.

Do I have Experience in Your Industry?

I have applied my skills in a few industries. I spent some time in manufacturing; but it was several years ago. I have utilized my talents in financial services and retail - all with great success. I am confident that my previous industry experience complemented by my other work will enable me to make a contribution. Since I understand how many companies and industries operate, I can use a diverse set of skills to drive change for your company. I will sell myself to you  - believe me. Even though my direct relationship with your industry is somewhat dated, it's there. I will highlight those relevant experiences toward the top of my résumé so you see them immediately. Also, my history of being promoted will definitely show you that I am more than capable of doing the job.

Do I show commitment?

I am sure that during an interview I will clearly demonstrate my level of commitment to my position, staff and employers. But, since we have not yet scheduled a meeting, I will go with Yes! Yes, I show commitment. How you ask? Well, my promotion in each of my roles to positions of increased levels of responsibility is one example. I have also indicated that I am focused on the growth of my staff. Many of the people that have worked under me have also been promoted, and several of them have worked for me at more than one company by their own volition; I am known for providing exceptional training, and supporting the development of others.

Do I demonstrate an interest in my community?

I have a family and other personal responsibilities, so while I would like to say unequivocally yes, I cannot. I do volunteer some of my time to a local shelter where I dispense meals to the needy during the holidays. I really enjoy the work and being able to help others; of course if my time allows I would be more than willing to do other things to give back to the community. In the past I have raised money for charitable causes, including cancer research.

I look at this letter and think, yes; I would definitely interview this candidate. If he is as good in person as he looks to be on paper, then perhaps we have a winner! It is very difficult to identify, attract and hire the right candidate. In part, this is because people apply for things that they are not qualified for; they submit résumés and cover letters for opportunities that are completely outside the scope of their experience. If you take the time to really evaluate your own credentials and that of the position for which you are applying, your job search would be more focused and more fruitful.

Posted on August 2, 2009 by sparktalk.