Without having to many connections in the professional magazine world, I’ve relied on online applications to find a job. The problem with that is the lack of feedback. The posting asks you to send in a cover letter and resume. I would send these in, and direct them to my website for writing samples. But after that…silence. I rarely heard anything back. One time, I sent in my application for a posting that had only been up for a few hours and got an immediate email saying that the position had already been filled!
My first thought was something was wrong with my resume and cover letter. I turned to a career website specializing in media for a resume revamp. The guy replied with great advice about where my resume looked “thin” and what needed to be highlighted more. Lucky for me, they were running a special for 15 percent off, bringing the total to $296. Didn’t they realize that I don’t have a job? I respectfully declined and bought a book for $10 instead.
I found a design that was creative for the magazine industry, and something I could duplicate for my cover letters. I thought it looked great, and definitely an improvement from my previous one.
But I still wasn’t having any luck.
I applied for an internship at Marie Claire (I didn’t get it), but the intern supervisor told me I was one of about 10 people out of 100 who replied to the online posting that got selected for editing tests based on my resume and cover letter. That’s great, but still doesn’t answer my question as to why I’m not getting the gig.
In the spirit of constructive criticism, here’s my current resume incarnation. Do I need a resume makeover?!
For every positive thing I read, I read an article where a “don’t” appears on my resume. My name should be at the top, or I need to give greater detail about my previous positions. And cover letters? I spend hours on one cover letter, trying to make it sound smart and knowledgeable of the company. Yet, one website said recruiters don’t even look at cover letters!
As an experiment, I sent a faux-application package (resume and cover letter for a fictitious job opening at the magazine) to a local managing editor (her photo looked the friendliest on the magazine’s website). I asked her if she would take 90 seconds (or however long people actually look at applications) and give me a first response feedback. I told her if she sees something in five seconds that would make her throw it away, throw it away. I want to know the hard truth!
To my surprise, she was happy to do it. She responded the next day with “Your resume, cover letter and website are all very professional and very good.” She even offered me an internship at the magazine, though I told her I couldn’t commit to anything long term being as I have a big move in my future! (I did offer to help around the office whatever way I can until that date). Her only critique was my cover letter style didn’t match her publication. I had serial commas, a big no-no in AP style. I always thought I was using it, but I never proofread for style like I do for spelling and grammar. Now I know such a simple thing can be a deal-breaker for some employers…
Samantha Hyde graduated from the University of Texas in 2009. During her time spent in Austin, she interned and contributed to Austin Monthly, Texas Parks & Wildlife and Texas Highways magazine. She served as president of the magazine club and editor-in-chief of a college magazine, burntORANGE. Her issue, “How to be a Longhorn,” won second place in general excellence at the 2009 AEJMC awards.