Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Complete the application package

PJs are different and, like images, resume packages should be original and tell employers about individual PJs.

Keeping above in mind, let's discuss the "standard" resume package. This is the basic, no-frills package required to get a job. Anything less is likely to get a rejection. However, if origami animals also jump into the package, I'm sure nobody would mind. :-)

The investment
A typical (economical) resume package costs around $10 to send. Most PJs who are seriously hunting for a job send at least 20 packages (if not more). It represents a major investment while excluding the time involved (when a freelance gig could have earned $300 to $500 per hour).

Let's factor all the components: research time, package preparation, package expenses, postage, preparation time, mileage to and from the mailing center. A resume package could easily be worth about $500 or more to the sending PJ IF no special images were created solely for the resume, which drives the price higher.

When this much cash is on the line, PJs are well advised to invest wisely. This means PJs shouldn't try for jobs out of their league or waste money on a bargain basement jobs. Instead, go for the jobs with the best fit or one notch above the current working position.

However, also send resume packages to "dream jobs." I did so many years ago and, to my surprise, I was a finalist for a job I didn't know was available. During the same time, I got another dream job, but life is strange.

The package
The standard package has three core components:   a cover letter, a resume and a portfolio. If PJs have business cards or promotional postcards, include one of each as well.

All of these ingredients must be absolutely perfected. Any minor problem is a potential rejection.

To be certain everything is ready, have others critique the package components. Challenge them to find anything questionable. While it's important to stand out from the herd, it's more important not to be cut , slaughtered and served at a burger joint. Although this sounds like a recipe for mediocrity, it's not.

PJs must create unique resume packages. Just as every image only requires exposure, focus and timing, each resume package can be as unique as each image. The goal is to have the most technically and esthetically pleasing package of the group applying for the job.

A standard package includes a cover letter and resume in a matching envelope along with a CD portfolio in a jewel case. These items are placed inside a larger bubble-wrap protected envelope and sealed.

The rest of the package is a matter of style. Some PJs send flat resumes inside protective covers, place everything into binders or make custom comb-bound books. As long as it fits into a reasonably-sized envelope or container, it's open for interpretation.

However, be cognizant of the total weight of the package. The mailing cost difference between a bubble-wrap envelope and a padded envelope is about a buck - slightly more than the savings between the two types of envelopes.

So, if a PJ decides to decoupage a resume onto granite slabs to get attention, s/he might want to reconsider the option before shelling out the extra freight charges.

For most PJs, the mailing address, return address and portfolio label (if used) are typically printed on adhesive labels. It's safe.

However, PJs skilled in calligraphy may want to hand print the information on the CD label, internal envelope and possibly on the package envelope.

Return packaging
In the old days, PJs included return packaging for slide portfolios and possible reject letters. Now, it's common for PJs to request the recipient keep the CD on file for future jobs or freelance assignments.

Not only is this approach initially cheaper, it's potentially more lucrative for PJs who picks up addition freelance gigs while waiting on new or different staff jobs.

If using this approach, it's extremely important the CD contains links back to the PJ's online portfolio and contact information. Because a PJs online presence is universal, as long as editors have the CD, they can locate the 2nd choice PJ for a later opening or a freelance gig.

This brings up the subject of keeping an online resume up to date at all times, but it's a subject to discuss at another time.

Mail it quick
Collect the package components, make sure the names are correct and get it out the door. Time is on the side of the first job applicants. They become the standard against which new contenders are measured. They also clear the first hurdle on job searches with deadlines. Finally, they cross the desk while the editor is still interested. After many sub-standard resumes, editors may lose interest in reviewing many new portfolios.

Enough for now,

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