Friday, March 21, 2008

The Paper Resumé

Since part of my role as Crane’s historian is to tell stories, I figured this would be a good opportunity to tell one of my favorites. And, of course, it has to do with paper.

A few years ago, I was playing in a college alumni golf tournament and it began to rain. I pulled my Crane hat out of the bag to protect what little hair is left on top and my opponent, a director at one of the world’s largest banks, chimed right in: “Peter, let me tell you about Crane paper and my company.”

I was all ears.

He said for some of their best jobs, they get in as many as 5,000 resumés. Here’s how they whittle them down to get to a manageable number:

They gather up a bunch of people around a big table and hand out the resumés. They hold the cover letter up to the light. If the watermark says Crane, it goes in one pile. If it doesn’t, it goes in another pile. They keep the ones with the Crane watermark, and you can guess where the others go. Yup – File 13.

But there are still too many resumés. So, they divvy them up again and hold the cover letter up to the light. If the watermark registers correctly on the page, the resumé goes in one pile. If it doesn’t register correctly, it goes in another pile. Those who got it right are considered for an interview. Those who didn’t, get a form letter.

Here’s their reasoning: “We want to make sure that the most important thing that person did that day was to send us their resumé.”

So what’s the lesson? Actually there are several.

  • Paper resumés still matter to many employers.
  • The care you take to craft your presentation can give you a competitive advantage.
  • The quality of the paper on which you make your presentation can give you a competitive advantage.

There are several Crane papers that are appropriate for resumés and cover letters, and you can find them here:

My favorite – and that’s another story – is Crane’s 32-pound Premium Presentation Paper. The “32 pounds” refers to the paper’s weight or heft. Don’t ask what it really means. It’s arcane paper mill speak. Copy paper is generally 20 pounds. Writing or bond paper is generally 24 pounds. Premium papers are 28 or 32 pounds. Crane’s 32-pound paper is gorgeous to look at and has a distinctive feel in the hand. If you leaf through a stack of papers – resumés perhaps – and encounter a piece of Crane’s 32-pound paper, it makes you stop and take notice. Before your prospective new employer sees your name or your qualifications, you’ve set yourself apart already.

One final thought about setting yourself apart; about differentiating yourself from the competition. Don’t forget to send a handwritten thank-you note after your interview. In this digital age, you might be tempted to send an e-mail. But stop before you hit the “Send” button. Take a few moments to write a short but sincere thank-you note. Those few moments will set you apart. If you don’t get the job, it will be for some reason other than making your best personal presentation.

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