I've recently had to hire someone. I can tell the economy is still not really what it was. There were 20+ applicants in less than 12 hours for a rather low paying job. Looking over the cover letters (emails) and the resumes sent, I think I have something to share with job seekers.
First of all - don't irritate the potential employer.
Read the instructions first, then read them again. If the job advertisement says "email resume" don't think that a phone call will get you a response.
Again: READ THE INSTRUCTIONS. If the job ad says "email resume" then include a resume with your email.
In your email - include some words. Do not send a blank email with a resume attached. I've got too many things to do to open every document. (That's why I'm looking for help!) The email is your cover letter. I'm looking for a hint in the email that you're a good candidate. Even something as simple as "Attached is my resume. Thank you for your consideration." is better than nothing. Better yet "Attached is my resume. I have experience pertinent to this position (description of pertinent experience). I am a hard worker, capable of independent work, and would very much like the opportunity to discuss how I can make your life easier." I'm all about anything that makes my life easier. (You can word it better than that!)
In your email - don't include too many words. I don't want to know about any hobbies or interests that aren't pertinent to this job. Your desire to camp every weekend this summer won't get you a job with me. I don't care how much you really, really need this job, how it would be perfect for you because you don't want too work hard or often, or how this might be a good fit for you only if ___ .... Sometimes less really is more.
Make sure all the contact information is correct, especially phone numbers and emails. I can't respond to you if your phone is disconnected, or if you gave me the wrong number. I also have to wonder about your attention to details. Get someone to proof your work if necessary.
Speaking of details, make sure your resume is pertinent to the job you're applying for. It's pretty easy these days to edit documents. There's no reason that your resume's job objective should be "Being the best babysitter this church has ever had" when you're applying for a gardening position. It kinda makes me think you don't care about the gardening thing.
If you get called for a phone interview, don't tell me how what you're really looking for is a babysitting position, or a waitressing position, or any other position that I'm not hiring for. If you're driving when I call, just let it go to voice mail. If you do pick up, something like "I'm so sorry, I'm driving now. May I call you back at this number in X minutes?" is a good response.
Look, I was the world's worst secretary back in the day. I know it's a pain to get these details right. But as an employer, I don't have time or energy to weed through the chaff to find the wheat. If you want a job it's best if you can shine. If you can't shine, at least wipe off the mud so that the potential employer can get a glimpse of what you're capable of.
Grr... interview candidate today had 4 references, I can only use 2.
So here are some more suggestions regarding references -
No relatives. Your father is not a good reference. Like I'm going to believe him when he says he's not biased and you're wonderful? And then, what if he says you aren't?
Call all your references in advance of listing them. Let them know you are using them as a reference, make sure their contact information is correct. The first name of your manager at Blockbuster from 3 years ago just doesn't cut it.