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Sunday, July 26, 2009

creative resumes, and how long employers take to respond

A reader writes:

I would like to inquire on how long an employer will usually take to reply to an expression of interest in a job.

I am a 16 year old student that has emailed several different employers with my resume and cover letter and have only received an instant reply from one. A few were advertised positions and the rest were general inquiries on my part. I admit it has been less than a week since I have sent them but considering I received a reply from one within a few hours, I am rather anxious and frustrated to hear from the rest too (I have refreshed my email around 20 times today, I kid you not).

I understand that the job market at the moment isn't particularly keen on employing less experienced teenagers but surely the lower pay rate attracts them?

I'm also unsure whether my resume is a turn-off because I made a much more creative one that still clearly delivers the facts and figures, but is presented with color and more flair. Also the jobs I am applying for are cafes, juice bars and fashion stores. And no doubt my lack of real retail experience (I only have volunteer work) disadvantages me. Any words of wisdom you may offer?

Okay, clearly I have to drop my preconceived notions about teenagers not reading career blogs, because you are the second 16-year-old in three weeks to write to me. It still surprises and impresses me though.

It can take some employers quite a long time to respond to applications. A week is definitely nothing -- some take a month or even more. I tend to be pretty fast and often respond within a few days, but even I wouldn't feel ashamed of myself if it took me, say, two weeks. And lots of employers really do take a lot longer. In some cases, this may be because they're disorganized, but generally it's just because they have lots of other stuff going on that they have to deal with first. So stop obsessively checking your email.

As for creative resumes, in certain fields if they're well-done, they can be a plus. I'm sure there are some HR people or hiring managers out there who consider them a deal-breaker because they want you to do things the traditional way, but in general I suspect most people feel like I do, which is this: The most important thing about your resume design is that I need to be able to read it clearly, without straining, and I want to be able to quickly scan it and get the highlights. Creativity, while a nice trait, doesn't trump those requirements, so make sure whatever format you use works in those ways.

As for more general teenager job-searching advice, I'm going to refer you to the comments section of the last post from a teenager -- people offered up really helpful advice, so read through that and see if it's useful.


Anonymous said...

AAM, I know you don't have time to review the resumes of everyone who writes to you, but what about leveraging the knowledge and experience of your readers and posting the resumes of those who okay doing so, perhaps in a special section? (maybe they anonymize their contact and company info)

My resume is pretty solid now, but it sure would've helped me ten years ago to have a community-feedback resource like what you've created to get honest feedback on my resume and/or to see examples of what to do and what not to do.

(plus, I'm really curious to see what this colorful resume looks like!)

Anonymous said...

That's a lot of work for AAM. How about you start your own blog and do only that?

I wouldn't want to be the moderator for a crowd sourced critique - people often get snarky and don't really want the feedback, while trollers are bored and provide inappropriate feedback.

Ask a Manager said...

Yeah, unfortunately I think I'm not up to the work that it would entail -- but there actually are sites that do something similar to what you're describing. Check out, for example, the "Am I Money?" feature at Careerealism.

Anonymous said...

ROFL! Apparently so!
snarky (adjective) - sarcastic or snide. Example: "How about you start your own blog and do only that?"