I think most career counselors and recruiters have this recurring dream: they take the time to share helpful tips on brand management with job seekers but the vast majority are not listening, or, they are just lazy and hoping the extra effort with the resume will not be necessary. The dream ends when they ask themselves why they are wasting their time.
Most of the resumes I receive fall into the category of the infamous “one-size-fits-all” category. Most candidates apparently think they know best and that should be good enough. In a hyper competitive job market, why do candidates think “good enough” is good enough?” It isn’t.
Your resume is your first interview. If you are OK with wasting time submitting resumes to online job sites or recruiters and never getting a call, or not making the cut after the first round, then stop reading now. Do not waste your time with this blog.
This is not hard. It is all common sense stuff. All it takes is a little effort.
When candidates neither make the cut nor receive an offer for the job, they are perplexed. They have solid experience with a good record of achievement. “I don’t understand,” is a frequent lament. If I had $5 for every time I have heard that line, I would not have to stand in line to buy Lotto tickets.
- Preparation — doing one’s homework — is NOT limited to preparing for the interview. It begins with preparing the resume. Focus your resume, from the career summary and experience and accomplishments, to the job and the needs of the client.
- Understand how computerized resume screening programs work. Adjust your resume to include terms and phrases — aka, action words — for a specific job that will likely trigger a favorable electronic response. There are ample resources available on this subject. You live in a digital world so there is no excuse to allow such a shortfall to hamper your search. You are not too important to master this.
- List your employer by name, description of the business and the town in which the business is located. Then list your specific job title with a short description of your scope of responsibility. Be sure to emphasize any experience or duties that specifically relate to what the employer’s needs are and the sensitives of the aforementioned computerized scanning tool.
- List your accomplishments by order of importance/impact and/or the needs of the employer. Do not make them hunt through a sea of gray with dot points to find that one thing that might move you to the top of the heap of other prospects. Your various jobs should be listed chronologically but your accomplishments are a different matter. Do not clutter the impact of your prior performance by committing the most common resume mistake: mixing accomplishments with scope of responsibility. Computers may not be able to pick this up, but that mistake screams, “Not ready for prime time!”
- If you are determined to quantify your term of service with past employers on a year-to-year basis, then I recommend including the number of years of leadership or management experience in your summary. Do not make computers or researchers conducting a manual review guess about a baseline in the selection criteria — years of experience.