May 22, 2012
Contact info: New rules for the modern job market
If you're a passing sports fan of almost any stripe, you've probably heard the name John Wooden. Coach Wooden, arguably the most revered sports coach in history, led the UCLA men's basketball team to 10 national championships in a 12-year period. And as legend has it, he'd start each season by teaching all of his new hotshot players something abruptly fundamental: how to put their socks on and tie their shoes properly. Seriously, he really did this.
What does this story possibly have to do with a career blog? What's the aspect of the job-hunting process that most people take for granted, when in many cases they shouldn't? It relates to the contact information you list on your resume, cover letters and email signature block.
While far from the most complex part of searching for work, there have been some significant changes in the way candidates are approaching this issue in the modern market. Here's a quick breakdown of the new rules you'll want to follow.
Email address: For starters, you don't want to be looking for work using a corny, cutesy or embarrassingly personal email address, such as email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. I shouldn't have to say this, but using such an address won't send the most professional of impressions.
I'd also recommend against using joint or family email addresses, such as email@example.com. Nobody, including employers and recruiters, wants to send an important message that might accidentally get picked up (or misplaced) by your spouse or kids.
Finally, unfair as it might sound, it's possible that you might even get discriminated against based on the email system you're using. I've heard repeatedly, for example, that many employers turn a skeptical eye toward people who use aol.com or yahoo.com addresses, suspecting that such folks are behind the curve technology-wise. If you still have a Compuserve account (please tell me you don't), you're in real trouble.
Phone numbers and voice mail: In years past, people would sometimes list as many as three phone numbers on a resume -- home, work and cell. Fast-forward to 2012: nobody wants to see more than a single number on your resume.
Decide which of your numbers is the most private, accessible and reliable one and use it, exclusively, on all your job-search correspondence. Or use a service such as Google Voice to route your calls and create "one number" portability. As for your voice-mail greeting, make sure it sends a professional message. Get rid of that clip of your kids singing "We're the Petersons" in three-part harmony.
And make sure you mention your name. Many people just use their cellphone's default "you've reached this number ..." greeting, which doesn't include a name. This causes employers to question whether they've reached the right person and can leave a secure message.
Physical address: These days, many job hunters are bucking convention and omitting their home address from their resume, listing only the city and state in which they reside. Physical addresses aren't needed, since almost nobody sends employment-related information through snail-mail anymore.
Savvy job hunters are also skipping this step because they don't want 1) to be penalized by an employer who might analyze their commute length to the job, or 2) recruiters to "Zillow" their house to find out how much it's worth.
While I'm not sure these latter scenarios happen all that often, they happen enough that I stopped putting physical addresses on all the resumes I write a few years back -- and have never heard a single complaint from either one of my clients or a potential employer they've contacted.
LinkedIn address: While you don't need to deck out your resume with a slew of social-media addresses (e.g., Facebook, Twitter) unless you're a marketing or media professional, I recommend that most professionals include their LinkedIn.com web address, at the very least.
Including this link (technically called your public profile URL) not only makes it easy for employers to check out your "online resume" of sorts, which might include valuable extra elements such as recommendations and work samples, but also communicates that you're not a Luddite and have at least a basic degree of familiarity with social media.
If you're going to include such a link on your resume, you'll want to shorten and customize it, if you haven't done so already. Click here for step-by-step instructions in the LinkedIn Help menu.
Got your shoes laced up? Cool. Now get out there and get in the game!
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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