People share that they have applied for hundreds of jobs, but so far have had no success in getting interviews.
Then I see samples of resumes. “How can I improve this?” the posters ask.
I want to respond (and I often have) in two related ways:
1. “It’s not your resume! That’s part of the problem, but it’s not the real problem.”
2. “You are asking the wrong question.”
Here’s what I mean:
Yeah, you need a resume to get most jobs. Employers need a summary of what you deliver so they can assess whether you might be a good candidate. They don’t know you. It makes sense. (Ditto with a LinkedIn profile, but that’s for another post.)
But having a resume and submitting it is not the core reason that you get a callback.
The reason you will get attention is that you have effectively communicated how you can solve the types of problems that those employers typically have.
Read that again.
Therefore, your job is to determine what those problems are and connect the results you have achieved directly with them.
And you do that in multiple ways.
Your campaign to get hired is a marketing campaign. Your goal is to persuade the employer that you are the one they should select. You have to deploy several tools in your arsenal to do an effective job:
1. Self-reflection. Remind yourself of your values and priorities. Review your career goal and clarify what job you’re seeking and why. I see many job seekers desperately applying for anything “that I seem to fit.”
2. Research. Know what companies fit your goal. Then know what those companies need. Read and watch everything—their websites, articles written about them, their social media posts, and their videos. Talk to people who work there and in those industries.
This is the way you find out a lot of useful things. Ask people who work at your target employer to tell you about the company and what it’s like to work there. Make new professional friends at these companies, using LinkedIn or meeting them at live, in-person, face-to-face events. (Join a professional organization in that field! Go to a conference!)
3. Documentation. Yes, this means your resume. But approach it this way: Consider what the employer you are targeting is looking for, and then match those needs with things you’ve done in your past jobs. Literally, make a two-column table and fill it out.
Then, go a step further to ask, how can I demonstrate that my skills in those areas are of real value?
Consider the challenges you’ve met during your career and how you met them. How did you help shift situations while at your various jobs? How did you make things better? Answer this for each job you’ve held.
Now, go back and write bullet points listing these documented, quantifiable achievements that are relevant to the sorts of things that the employer needs you to solve.
While you’re at it, make sure you use the language and terminology that they are using. Use industry-appropriate language but without too much jargon. This will help you to get found by applicant tracking systems that are programmed to scan for keywords.
NOTE: Do not do what nearly everyone I see on Reddit does. Do not merely list the responsibilities you had while at your various jobs. Those are not good bullet points. What they are is a job description. This adds nothing.
4. Networking. This is the part where you talk to friends, former colleagues, bosses, and anyone else you know to find out (a) if they have connections to the companies where you want to apply and (b) what they are hearing about your industry these days. Talk to them to get feedback about your job search. Listen. Take notes. Ask if there is anyone else you should know and ask for an introduction.
And here’s what you also do: Follow your target companies on social media. Interact with their posts. Be seen. And get to know people who work there.
5. The power of asking. When you see a job, don’t apply immediately. Reach out first. Contact the hiring team. Let them know you’re interested and why you are a fit; then ask to set up a chat. While you’re chatting, determine if the opportunity looks good. Then, if it is, let them know you are applying (and add, “Could I also send you my resume directly?”).
Please, please, for your own mental health (because this will be a frustrating experience), do not do what most people doing: Merely apply and wait.
We call that “spray and pray.” We also call that gambling. Don’t do that.
Put this on a big piece of paper and tape it to your wall: NO BLIND APPLICATIONS.
Once you review your goal, find companies that fit it, research their needs, match your achievements to those needs, and then directly contact the hiring team, you will have a huge advantage.
You will know what you want, where it is, and how to effectively make a pitch for it.
I guarantee you that you also will:
1. Feel more confident.
2. Know how to “sell yourself.”
3. Stop worrying about the resume as much.
Will you end up getting a job where you are a great fit? It may take time. Some people may ignore you. You may get interviews and not get hired. But don’t let that stop you from moving on to the next company. Someone is going to see that you are prepared, you get what they are about, and will invite you to join them.
I witness it all the time.
Got questions? Please feel free to email me: Ruth@confidentcareersearch.com.