Are you consistent? One of the biggest mistakes job seekers make is that they are inconsistent. They are inconsistent with their message, their level of professionalism and their documents.
If you are a lawyer seeking to change practice areas or any professional seeking a position different from the one you have, your message must be consistent. A legal resume is not ideal when applying to a fundraising position at a non-profit, a professor’s CV is not appropriate for a position as a barista. You have to know your audience, then send the appropriate documents and dress the appropriate way (or be overdressed) for the interview, and then send the appropriate follow-up note. If your resume is professional and you show up at the interview in a mini-skirt or shorts and flip-flops, or, in some cases, open toe shoes and no stockings or slip-ons with no socks, your message is inconsistent with the image you are seeking to portray. Do your research so that you can prepare to be consistent and professional.
YOUR LEVEL OF PROFESSIONALISM:
You are being watched. While the receptionist may not be the hiring partner or decision maker they will report back on your behavior so it ought to be professional. I have heard repeatedly that law students hoping to be summer associates get completely different reviews from partners as they do from associates that interview them. Why? They treat the partner with respect and associates either as friends or as simply not worth their time. Besides being inconsistent, those law students are fooling themselves if they think everyone they see and meet with will not give opinions that will contribute to the hiring decision. Plus, how often do you think you’ll be working with the partner? Not very much. With that associate you weren’t so nice to but you impressed the partner enough to get hired anyway? Yes, all the time…Good Luck! When you park your car in the lot and step into the elevator you never know who is who and you should treat everyone as a potential decision maker…or family member of a decision maker.
Your cover letter, resume, references page and thank you note all must match. The contact information heading, the font, the paper they are printed on, and the title you give your documents all must match. It shows care and consideration and consistency. All things an employer wants in an employee.
If the documents you send to introduce yourself and show your worth as a potential employee are not consistent there is no reason for a potential employer to believe your work product will be anything but the same.