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Finding Work: Don't Blow Your Chances
By Matthew C. Keegan
"I sent my résumé in and I haven't heard back from the company yet.
It has been weeks now. What is going on?"
A familiar refrain? For many job seekers it is an all too common feeling. You've researched the company, found a position that interests you, crafted a cover letter and sent it off with your résumé expecting to hear something, anything over the next week or two. Instead, nothing.
While you can't control what a company does in their hiring campaign -- whether it is for one employee or a group of employees -- you can increase the chances you will be contacted for an interview by making some careful choices ahead of time. Without an interview you can't possibly be considered for work. Let's look at some of the reasons why you might not have been called:
1. You attached your résumé. This is a big beef with Human Resources people. You sent your information to the company, but the way you sent it to them was incorrect. If a company tells you to send your résumé within the body of an email, you must send it to them that way. With the overabundance of viruses and worms on the internet, attachments are fodder for trouble. Plus, they are usually very large and clog up email accounts. Received attachments are automatically deleted and a response to you will therefore be impossible.
2. You failed to list salary history or requirements. While there is some debate within the H.R. community whether potential employees must actually send in specific information, not giving any amount or stating, "I will provide this information in my interview with you," may not be acceptable. At minimum give your salary requirement range [e.g. 45-58K per year which is your low and high range. Effectively, you are telling them that you probably would accept a salary in the low 50's]. Salary Negotiable sounds like a nice statement, but it still doesn't indicate what you want. Are you worried about being screened out? You should be. It is a method for company personnel to weed out those who are too pricey as well as those who lowball their figure just to get an interview. Think carefully ahead of time; why waste your precious time, and theirs, by going on an interview for a position that isn't in your pay range?
Other problem areas: typographical errors; improper usage of grammar; terrible formatting [especially when a hard copy was sent via regular mail or fax]; unrelated job information; a résumé that goes back more than ten years; listing of your high school graduation date [especially bad if you graduated more than twenty years ago -- think age discrimination]; improper education for the position; listing references; and more. If you can't craft a top notch résumé find someone who can do if for you.
Conclusion: Follow directions to a "t" doing exactly what the company requires. Doing more, such as sending in a cover letter and/or references when not requested can cause problems too. Cover letters work great via regular mail, but can be problem with email [again, attachment issues]. If you can follow up, do so. If the company states, "only those candidates we plan to interview will be contacted" or similarly worded statement, you will have to play the waiting game. Of course, knowing someone in the company who can walk your résumé to the person with hiring authority is the best way to get hired.