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That killer resume might be worth the wait

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By Eve Nicholas
Herald Columnist
Question: After four months of job searching and zero calls from employers, I hired a resume writer to give my presentation a face lift. The other day, I found a job posting that seems like a perfect fit for me. Is it better to wait until my new resume is finished, or should I send my old document to the company as a placeholder until my new draft is ready to go?
S., Raleigh, N.C.
Answer: Unless the job posting has a deadline that expires in the next day or so, wait for your new document before contacting the employer. You want the hiring manager to be intrigued by your presentation and impressed by your qualifications. Not distracted by two different resumes and wondering about errors or inaccuracies that fell through the cracks.
If waiting would make you miss the deadline, develop a powerhouse cover letter that captures attention and inspires hiring managers to learn more about you. Remember that you are on the verge of losing this opportunity to job seekers with better time management skills. You have to make it good. Try something like this: "I am writing to express my interest in your XYZ position. I am in the process of revamping my resume to make it crystal clear how my strengths will benefit your company. I'll send the new document on Monday. Please keep an eye out for it. In the interim, I'd like to tell you about some of my recent accomplishments that increased revenue and cut costs for my present employer... ."
Before you reach out to the hiring team, contact your resume writer one more time. Is she close to finishing your document? Can she pull together a killer cover letter quickly? You might get lucky and have a draft in your hands before you know it.
Question: In the past, I volunteered for a gay and lesbian task force and I also worked for a political campaign during my free time. I was responsible for office administration and financial tasks in both of these roles. I think the experience would be good to add to my resume, but I'm not sure if the nature of the organizations would be too controversial and might cost me a job.
L., Portland, Ore.
Answer: The most effective resumes are highly focused, compelling documents that target a specific industry, company or job. This is why I urge job hunters to remove personal or irrelevant details, such as affiliations and activities that highlight politics, sexual orientation, religion, race or disability. In most circumstances, I suggest deleting hobbies from your resume as well. Keep in mind that every detail will be scrutinized. Don't give employers extra reasons to rule you out as a candidate.
Now, let me tell you about some important exceptions to this advice. You might be targeting an organization that values diversity. Or you may feel strongly about including certain facts about yourself. This is your first impression. Your virtual handshake. It should feel right to you.
Brief note: Beginning next Wednesday, I'll address dealing with layoffs and unemployment, job searching for skilled workers and restarting your career after many years with the same company to help our readers at Everett's Kimberly-Clark plants, which officials say will close early next year.
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