We hear from job seekers every day who are sending out hundreds of resumes and job applications never to be heard from again. It's hard to tell if it's the resume at fault or the company not hiring, already hired, or if your resume is just sitting in a stack of 500 others never to be found. So, I've compiled a seven-step resume strategy to overcome the resume black hole so many resumes seem to go in to.
1. Manage Your Job Search, Don't Let It Manage You
There are great tools and resources out there to track the applications you submit, responses you receive and more. For example, Jibberjobber.com is an excellent tool to keep your job search organized and it beats using an old fashioned spreadsheet. When you're tracking who you're applying to, what positions and more it gives you the big picture so you're not guessing how many applications you've sent in you know. It also tells you who is responding and what the next steps are.
2. Apply For Positions Most Suited For You
In a normal job market, I'd say go for it, apply to whatever you want for whatever reason you want. In fact, when I first graduated college I applied for positions that I wasn't qualified for, hoping they'd take a chance on me and train me. Well, I didn't get the exact position I applied to, but I got a call from the company saying they had another position I was perfectly qualified for. Of course, I did, and that's how my career in human resources and recruiting started.
In this economy, it's tough to advise you to apply for something you're under qualified for when there are hundreds of other qualified candidates. The chance you'd hear back is so slim that you're asking to have your resume disappear in a deluge of others and never be heard from again.
Conversely, applying for positions you are overqualified for will get you about the same results. I will tell you the truth about it. Hiring managers are NERVOUS to hire overqualified people for one reason – they don't want to risk hiring you now and having you up and leave when a better job comes along. Then, they have to start all over training someone new and it costs them money. They'd rather hire someone who meets the requirements versus grossly exceeds them. It's a safer bet right now and, unfortunately for unemployed job seekers, it's an employer's market they can be as picky as they want.
3. Reach Out And Make Contact
If you've spoken personally to a contact at the company send your resume to them. If you know someone at the company send it to them. An association with someone either over the phone or in person means you will be remembered you won't be just a faceless piece of paper in a stack.
4. Use Your Time Wisely
All of the time you're going to be saving from not applying for positions you are under- or overqualified for can be better redirected into optimizing your resume. Use the job descriptions of the positions you are applying to as a guide for what keywords to include in your resume and cover letter. You can usually tell which ones the company wants the most because these fall under position REQUIREMENTS. These should be in the TOP third of your resume, what I would call above the fold.
It's important the employer sees this in their initial 5-second review. This will gain you additional time from the employer to review the rest of the resume. Make sure to include the PREFERRED qualifications as well this makes you an even more desirable client. If you're showing them that you meet all their required and preferred qualifications in your resume, why wouldn't they call you? That would make you the ideal candidate. Then, their search is over and you have the interview.
5. Realize It's Not About What You Want
The job market has moved from a seller to a buyer's market, just like the housing market. In a buyer's market, buyers have choices and they can take as much time as they want and be as picky as they want. I assure you hiring managers are the same way. It's an employer's market and they can take the time they want and need to make the right choice.
So, don't waste your time sending out resumes and cover letters that tell the employer a laundry list of what you want and need in a job. It won't get you very far. Instead, be specific about what you can offer the employer that aligns with their needs. This goes back to the required and preferred qualifications. So, back away from the objective… better yet, erase it from your resume altogether and replace it with a powerful personal branding statement.
6. Don't Underestimate Looks
Let me tell you exactly what your resume format is saying to the employer – it's either saying organized, professional, well put together, and detail-oriented or it's saying, "Help, I'm a mess!"
If you were a hiring manager, would you rather hire someone who was professional and well put together or someone who was a mess? Point blank – your format speaks VOLUMES about you. If you want to get their attention, it better make the right first impression, otherwise it doesn't matter how qualified you are you'll never hear back from them.
7. Be Your Own Best Salesperson
Statistics prove again and again accomplishment-based resumes are far more effective than ones that just list your job responsibilities. My take is this – responsibilities are for job descriptions and resumes are for selling yourself through previous wins! I hear job seekers say all the time, "I don't have any accomplishments" or "My job wasn't numbers based." Let me be direct – if you had no accomplishments at your past positions, you would have been fired from all of them. If you haven't been fired from every job you have ever had, then you must have been doing something right! What was that something right you were doing? Put that on your resume!
Thanks to Jessica Holbrook Hernandez / Careerealism
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