|By Dave Murphy
San Francisco Examiner
It's too bad that Gone in 60 Seconds is a movie about stealing cars. It would be a great title for a workplace documentary.
All right, so maybe the film with Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie did a wee bit better at the box office, but at least the workplace documentary could have a decent plot and believable characters. In this short-attention-span world, 60 seconds is all it takes for career opportunities, and sometimes careers, to vanish.
Here's how that single minute can change your career:
Think of your resume this way: As soon as your prospective boss picks it up, someone else lights the bottom of the resume on fire. In. a couple of seconds, the boss will notice the flames. Will he try to smother them, or just toss the whole thing into the trash and let it burn itself out?
That is why it is so crucial to tailor your resume to the job you're applying for. What is the single most important reason you should be hired for that particular job? It ought to be obvious as soon as someone picks up the resume. It also ought to be obvious from the first paragraph of your cover letter.
If you're e-mailing a resume in response to an ad, make sure your resume includes the same buzzwords listed in the ad. In this case, the flaming resume test may be done by a software program, which will weed out applicants who don't list the necessary buzzwords among their qualifications.
The reason networking is so important is that it lets you survive the flaming resume test. If the potential boss already respects you, or you come highly recommended, your resume won't be nearly as important as your job interview.
Certainly the first minute is crucial in any interview, but sometimes candidates never get that far because they flunk the pre-interview. A lot of companies might narrow the field to maybe 15 candidates, then have the prospective boss or an assistant call them to ask a few questions. Only a handful will end up having a "real" job interview.
That is why you already have to have your act together when you send in that resume. How will you make a good impression if the employer does call? What happens if you're harried, or your boss is standing right in front of you when the call comes in? Do you have private voice mail, or would you be in an awkward situation if your prospective boss left a message with a co-worker?
What if you get called at home? What kind of message is on your answering machine? Is your 5-year-old screening your calls? Does your spouse know that any person calling from XYZ Corp. is not a telemarketer?
You might be better off having a cell phone and listing that number on your resume.
Suppose that in every conversation, you have only 60 seconds to make your point. With busy people, you'll be lucky to get even half that. Have you learned how to get to the point quickly without being abrupt?
If you send your boss an e-mail, does she have to wade through three paragraphs to get to your one-sentence question? Can people leave you a voice mail message quickly?
When you're providing e-mail or voice mail messages for people, make every second count. Is the subject line in your e-mail helpful, or could it be confused with spam? If you leave a voice mail message, will the person have to wait three minutes to hear your phone number?
It takes a lifetime to build a reputation, but 60 seconds is more than enough time to destroy one.
Remember that if you are ever tempted to do something unethical. Or even if you're angry at a customer or a colleague or an employee. The immediacy of today's world makes it easy to do something productive in 60 seconds, but it makes it equally easy to do something destructive.
So the next time you're tempted to do something in anger, hold off for a minute. It just might be the best 60 seconds that you'll ever spend.
Source: The Columbus Dispatch, dated Sunday, August 27, 2000.
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