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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Resumes and Cover Letters Are Intrusive Forms of Advertising (at first, and then they become the other kind)

Before there were pop-up advertisements there were retail ads in newspapers.  Retail ads tried to snag the attention of people reading the news itself.  I used to work at newspapers where this sort of tension was discussed and it was argued straight-faced that advertisements were REAL NEWS.

As someone who wrote and sold advertisements, I tended to agree that the news stories were the fillers that we laid around the news of what was for sale that day.

I agreed with my boss, an old-fashioned newspaperman, who explained the difference between retail advertisements that competed with news for the attention of the reader and the kinds of classified advertisements which were grouped together and which readers went to and read with a keener, more focused appetite.

"Learn the difference between intrusive and non-intrusive advertisements," he advised.  "Learn that and you will understand a great deal about what persuasion really is."

He was right.  Knowing the kind of readership challenge your work product needs to meet is key to producing that document.  That is especially true when one is creating a resume/cover letter which shows up usually in a mound of other resumes/cover letters and competes for the attention of someone doing the screening and the hiring.  But it must also serve as that other tool--provide the kind of basic facts and dates that non-intrusive advertisements routinely provide. (Classified ads and yellow page ads are the non-intrusive kind of advertisements.)

Your resume and cover letter compete, and if they win the spot of being held for consideration to call in the candidate they become more. They move into the non-intrusive advertisement variety.

For that reason the document serves double-duty and must be crafted with the greatest care possible.  At the early stage of competing with other resumes, it must be flawless because in the early stages the screener of these documents is attempting to whittle down the number of candidates and simple style mistakes make that job of sorting with "yes" and "no" so much simpler.

Perfect style can get you to the yes stack.

The right information in your story will get you the interview.

That is all a resume and cover letter can really do.

You have to show up for the interview and tell the story of your career and your ambitions after that, but if you have that challenge then you have successfully created the kind of resume that can compete in both kinds of arenas:  intrusive and non-intrusive.

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