For those of you out there who were children of the 80’s (or perhaps a bit older), hopefully you will remember the show – Press Your Luck. Contestants would collect spins that led to prizes after the spin traveled around a makeshift digital game board, all the while yelling “BIG BUCKS NO WHAMMIES.” I promise this has a point.

The other day, I was talking with a friend who was flustered about their resume and cover letter in an attempt to find the perfect recipe for submitting themselves to a job. Should the cover letter showcase personality, should it be more formal. What about the resume? Do we really need to include “Excellent oral and written communication skills” in a resume? Would someone ever put “Lackluster oral and written communication skills” or perhaps “You can barely understand me but I promise I am a workhorse.” After a couple of chuckles, the conversation turned back to the process and I found myself feeling that anxiety that I felt watching press your luck when I saw the icon headed near a whammy and the impact truly hit me. You only have one chance to make a first impression. (Especially in a down market) So what perfect cocktail of cover letter and resume will yield a prize – versus a big, ugly, cape wearing, eerily creepy WHAMMY. Finito! You’ve lost your shot at the job. And then I thought to myself – how many Recruiters out there are giving candidates conflicting opinions? How many of us have altered a resume without giving any thought to the overall candidacy of that individual? Is there a way to remove the potential for a Whammy?

Tips to Avoiding …. The Whammy
First, I’ve discussed before the importance of having a few versions of your resume on hand. However, I have to say – it’s just as important to have matching versions of your cover letter. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received resumes with a 2 page cover letter detailing how fantastic a person is for my Project Manager posting, and when I open the resume – I feel as though I’ve been duped. No talk of Project Management.

Secondly, it’s also very important to have one cover letter and resume that reflect your personality. If you are applying to a job that is asking for a very distinct personality – make sure that your resume conveys it. If the heading is “Looking for a high energy, enthusiastic, crazy lunatic who LOVES eating peanuts and throwing the shells on the floor” and that seems to be of extreme importance to the company – make sure your resume (at minimum your cover letter) discusses your fantastic ability to throw peanut shells long distances. Heck – put down your most recent record. 15 feet really?

Finally – cater, cater, cater. Not food silly. Your candidacy. I’ve used the term before BYOBM (Be Your Own Best Marketer) however, I can’t tell you how many times someone has applied to a posting I have with the wrong title listed for the job. “Dear HeadHuntress, I’m applying for your Data Analyst job”…. The job title – Data Warehouse Team Lead. Make sure your resume speaks to the job. And for the love – make sure that the hiring manager’s name is spelled correctly. I do so LOVE when people call me Molly. 

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