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When A Friend Delivers Your Resume to HR Mark Swartz, M.B.A. M.Ed.

About the Author

Mark Swartz, MBA, M.Ed., is Canada's Career Activist. His insights reach millions yearly as the Career Advisor, as author of the best seller "Get Wired, You're Hired," also as a professional speaker and coach on career/work issues. A former Toronto Star careers columnist, Mark's advice is forthright and practical. For Canada's biggest directory of free career articles, and for personalized coaching, please visit

Mark Swartz
Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Dear Mark: A friend has requested a copy of my resume to give to her HR branch and has asked me to prepare a cover letter with it. I'm not applying to a specific position advertised so how would one word such a cover letter. This is for an administrative position with a school board.

-- Paulette, Milton Ontario
Dear Paulette,

Before you even put pen to paper, consider thanking your friend profusely. Having an insider present you to their HR department, or to managers and other staff, is a classic 'networking' tactic that can greatly increase your chances of securing work. Employers, be they school boards or otherwise, often trust their existing employees for referrals such as these because they can save time and money for the organization, while increasing the familiarity factor.

So how do you best leverage your friend's offer? Well, you could always go minimalist. Simply write a generic cover letter that states your preference for an administrative position within a school board. But, there are much better ways to demonstrate how keen and invaluable you really are. Like by customizing as much as possible. This includes addressing the letter specifically to the person (or persons) in HR that your friend will be showing the resume to, using their correctly spelled names and titles. It means doing some research on this particular school board to see what types of administrative positions they tend to post; what qualifications, experience and credentials they look for, also what their position descriptions actually say. (Use this link to learn more about how to find specific information on a given employer).

With this sort of information in hand, you can target your cover letter and resume to better reflect precisely what the hiring folks are looking for. But why stop there? Consider asking your friend to go a few steps further for you. They could, for example, walk your resume right over to the HR person and put in a good word for you directly. Your friend could also let you know some names of other relevant contacts in the company, and put you in contact with them as well.

Since your friend really, really wants you to get a good job (after all, what are friends for?), maybe they'll suggest to the HR Manager that they meet you briefly face to face, so HR can see for itself what a truly great addition you'd make to the organization once an appropriate opening surfaces. In essence the more your friend is willing to help, and the more you follow up in a timely, professional way, the better your chances are of making a lasting impression, and of being top of mind when it actually comes to hiring time. Best of luck!

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