Nadyne Richmond: About Unsolicited Resumes

Nadyne Richmond writes a wonderful blog called Go Ahead, Mac My Day. She published this post a couple of days ago, and I thought it was very relevant to the content that I push out here because of the day job. I asked her if I could republish in entirety, and she was gracious enough to give permission. Read on.

Every once in awhile, I get an unsolicited resume from someone who is in user experience and is looking for a new job.  I don’t mind this — I know that finding a job is hard, and reaching out to people who have previously said that they’re hiring for a position in your field is a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

If your resume is unsolicited, you’ve got to do an even better job than usual of telling me why I should hire you.  If I’ve posted here on my blog or on Twitter that we’re looking for a new researcher or designer, you’ve got a pretty easy opener for your email to me indicating interest and how you would fit into the team and meet the requirements laid out in the job ad. But if I haven’t posted anything like that lately, or if you’re responding to a very old post, you’ve got to work harder.

I’ve had a rash of unsolicited resumes recently.  All of them have consisted of 2 or 3 sentences asking me to consider them for a position on my team.  And I’ll be honest: I don’t even bother opening the attached resume or looking up their LinkedIn profile.  I do respond to say that we don’t currently have any openings that match the type of position they’ve told me that they’re interested in in those 2-3 sentences, but I don’t look at the resume.  If you can’t be bothered to tell me why I should hire you, I can’t be bothered to find out why I should hire you.

Writing a cover letter is hard.  It’s hard enough when it’s for an actual advertised position.  I understand that it’s doubly hard when you’re sending out a blind resume.  But if you don’t even attempt to do so, then I have no reason to consider you.

When I’m hiring, here are a few of the things that I’m looking for:

  • Articulate
  • Great communication skills
  • Can express how their experience and expertise would fit into VMware

If you’re sending me an unsolicited resume with only a couple of sentences, you’re not meeting any of these requirements.  If you don’t meet any of these requirements, it’s not worth my time to try to dig deeper to see if you might meet other requirements.  If I don’t have a position open but I have a great candidate, there’s a lot that I can do to try to create an open headcount.  I can have a conversation with my management about why we should go to upper management or to HR to fight for a headcount.  I can make sure that they understand how awesome the candidate is and that they would add a lot to our team, and that we should try to figure out a way to make this happen.  But this is quite a lot of effort on my part, and it’s probably a lot of effort on the part of my manager too, and it’s all effort that we weren’t planning on expending.

If you’re going to essentially cold call me, you’ve got to have a very convincing story.  If we talk and have a great conversation but I don’t have a position open now, and I can’t shake loose a headcount from my VP, I’ll remember you in the future.  That means that when I do get a headcount, you’ll be one of the first people who I contact to let you know that my team has an opening that might be a good fit for you.  Without that convincing story, you won’t stick in my memory, and I’ll never remember to contact you when a relevant position does come available.