Jim Grant's Blog

Help for Job Seekers – It's all about the process!

Use the Document that is More Important than Your Resume

Yes, there really is a document you should be using in your job search that is more important than your resume.

How do I know? Job seekers frequently tell me that when they use this document, they get more interviews. Also, HR recruiters and external recruiters tell me this document is what they want to see. They say “It does my job for me.”

Before I tell you what this document is and how to use it, let me tell you what happens when you don’t use it.

You find a job posted somewhere (probably on the Internet). You think you’re a great fit. You get a copy of your resume and you send it (and maybe a cover letter) to the place named in the job description. Where is that place? The vast majority of the time it is either the HR Department or an external recruiting firm. Your resume is received (either on paper or in a computer database) and ends up in a pile, along with a couple hundred other resumes. (Don’t worry about how many resumes they receive. Most of the people who submitted a resume are not qualified for the job.) Now, someone, has to start going through the pile of resumes. He/she grabs one off the top of the pile. How much time do you think he/she spends on each one? The answer is 10-20 seconds. That’s what these people tell me. These poor folks are under so much pressure to find the “perfect” candidate and are confronted with so many resumes, they have no choice but to reduce the amount of time they spend on their first review. (You and I would do the same thing.) – – – Think about all that. You probably spent hours and hours writing your resume. You had 3-5 people review it and then you spend more hours changing your resume, per their suggestions. You think it’s great and the people reviewing it are only spending 10-20 seconds on your precious document.

So, what are those people trying to do in that 10-20 seconds? They’re trying to figure out if you’re qualified for the job. That’s absolutely the right thing for them to be doing. But, if that’s so important, why don’t you tell them? – – – Now, you probably say “I do.” It’s in my resume. Well, it may be, but it could take someone 5-10 minutes to read your entire resume and if your key qualifications for the job are on the second page of your resume, the reader is likely to give up long before he/she ever gets there.

So, what do you do, given this situation? You use the document that’s more important that your resume. It’s called a “T Letter”. It is nothing but a special cover letter. The opening paragraph or two and the closing paragraphs or two are what you typically think is in a cover letter. It’s what’s in the middle that makes all the difference.

Here’s how you use a “T-Letter” and what’s in the middle. When you first see the job description, read it real closely. Pick out the 4-6 key requirements of the job. Then, for each one of those requirements, write down your best 2-3 qualifications for the job. Now, assemble “Their Requirements” and “Your Qualifications” and place it in the middle of this special cover letter. Put it on top of your resume and submit that.

Use a “T-Letter” when you apply for a job that you found posted somewhere. Don’t rely on someone else to figure out whether you’re qualified for the job in 10-20 seconds.

You may hear some other job seeker advisor suggest that you customize your resume for each job you apply for. That’s fine, but it can take a fair amount of time. A side-benefit of using a “T-Letter” is that is virtually eliminates the need to customize your resume each time.


February 4, 2010 - Posted by | All, Resumes, Seeking |


  1. Great Advice, I am going to do that, makes a lot of sense.

    Comment by Travis Churchill | February 5, 2010 | Reply

  2. This is the best advice I have received, since losing my job. I have had only one interview since I lost my job, and I am willing to give this a try. Thanks for the valuable information.


    Comment by Francine | February 9, 2010 | Reply

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