I've always thought that a query letter was a bit like a resume. A query letter is intended to hook an agent into finding out more about your book while a resume is intended to hook a hiring manager into finding out more about YOU.
One of the reasons I've been away is that I've been hunting for a new job. There's a whole week's worth of posts behind the reasons, but I'm not going into those right now. I've had a couple very positive interviews, so while I'm waiting for the phone to ring, I'm starting the search for my replacement.
Which leads me to this post.
I have a feeling the problems I've been seeing in the resumes I've been reading are probably very representative of the problems agents read in the query slushpile. Only difference is SOMEONE is going to get this job, so already the odds are better for my applicants. Agents can say no to everyone if they want, they don't HAVE to find someone to offer representation to.
Problem #1: Not following Directions
I very clearly stated I wanted to see a resume, a cover letter, and a salary range. (Yeah, I hate it when I see this in ads but I understand why they do it). I get resumes with no cover letter. I get a resume and cover letter but no salary range. I even got a response without any of the above, which leads me to...
Problem #2: Mysterious Links
Someone thought it'd be smart to send me a LINK to a video of their qualifications, promising the opportunity to download the resume/cover letter at the end. Not only did this person not follow directions, they showed poor judgment. Who is going to click on a mysterious link with so many weird viruses out there? MAYBE I could understand the video if the position were for some sort of videographer or film editor. Since it's an administrative support position, I'm just tsk tsk tsking as I click on someone else's response.
Problem #3: Things Don't Match
I've received some nice cover letters. I'd get all excited, thinking this could be The One, only to be disappointed when I looked at the resume. I understand the need to stretch the truth a bit -- especially when you're new and don't have that much experience -- but there are impressive things in the cover letter that are NOT on the resume at all. Did they take it off because they didn't want to be repetitious? Are they even able to do XYZ?
Problem #4: Overpromising
Back to the great cover letters. Jane Doe claims she has experience with fill in the blank, but on the resume you notice it was for a completely irrelevant industry or maybe just a class. Again, I know we have to put a positive spin on everything, but it's like applying for a position as a Nascar driver only to say your driving experience is with the bumper cars at your state fair.
Problem #5: Failure to Proofread
People, people, PEOPLE! I WANT to like you. I would love to give you this job, but when you do such stupid things as misspelling common words, use awkward sentences, or a sloppy format, you worry me. If I'm generous, typos are a three strikes kinda thing. Three or more, and I toss the resume out. But even if I keep it in the running, someone with flawless experience could go to the bottom of the pile when someone else has paid attention to all of the above. So do yourself a favor and proof your resume and cover letter then let someone ELSE do it for you.
Oh, and then do the same with your query and manuscript!
Hope to be back soon...if you can get that job offer to land in my lap, it'll be REAL soon!