5 steps to take when you can’t tailor your résumé to a particular position

 

ResumeWhen I tell jobseekers they should tailor their résumés for every position, their eyes widen. Some protest that this is too much work and one or two even become angry and profusely refuse to put in this hard work.

The reason I tell my customers to make the effort is because they need to speak to the needs of the employer. Further, this will impress the employer with their research of the position and demonstrate how they can solve problems the company is facing.

But let’s be realistic; this is not possible for every résumé you write, particularly if:

  • you’re posting your résumé on a job board where it will be stored in a résumé bank among millions of other résumés;
  • you don’t have a descriptive job ad and/or;
  • there’s no one to network with to find the real deal about the job for which you’re applying.

So what’s the solution?

In his Knock ‘Em Dead series, Knock ‘Em DeadSecrets & Strategies for Success in an Uncertain World, Martin Yate offers his Target Job Deconstruction (TJD) method as the next best thing to a tailor-made résumé.

“Your résumé,” he writes, “will obviously be most effective when it starts with a clear focus and understanding of a specific job target. TJD allows you to analyze exactly how employers prioritize their needs for your target job and the words used to express those needs, resulting in a detailed template for the story your résumé needs to tell.”

There are eight steps Martin describes when writing your TJD (they can be found in his book), but I’ll talk about the most immediate steps for creating your résumé template.

1. The first task in creating your résumé template is to collect approximately six job ads for a position you’re seeking. Use websites like Indeed.com or Jobster.com. They use spider technology pulling from other job boards and deliver a plethora of positions from which to choose. The locations of the jobs matter not.

2, From there, you’ll note a requirement (skill, deliverable) most common for all six positions. Next, identify a common requirement for five of the six positions, a common requirement for four of the six positions, and so on, until you have a list of the most common requirements in descending order.

This will give you a good understanding of how employers think when they determine who they’d like to hire. It will also give you a foundation to write a résumé template, which you can modify whenever you send your résumé to a particular company.

Let’s look at a Marketing Specialist position in the Boston area. I managed to find six job descriptions by using Indeed.com. Listed below are the six most common requirements for this position.

  1. Common to all six companies is writing copy for direct mail and electronic distribution, including web content.
  2. Common to four of the companies is managing relations with appropriate departments.
  3. Common to three of the companies is coordinating projects with outside vendors.
  4. Common to two of the companies is researching competitors’ websites and reporting activity.
  5. Common to two of the companies is coordinating trade shows.
  6. Another notable duty is Photo shoots/animation development, which drew my attention, as I enjoy, but have limited experience in photography.

3. Now write your résumé. Given the above information, your new résumé should first verify in the Professional Profile your qualifications for the most common requirements listed. (Notice that many of the requirements are transferable skills, e.g., written communications, managing others, coordinating projects, researching, and your motivating pressure points. Others speak to your technical skills.)

4. You will next extract all the key words that apply to you and create a Competencies section including those key words, as your résumé might be scanned by large and even midsize companies. Don’t forget the strong transferable skills you possess.

5. Finally, you will prove in your Employment History what you have asserted in your Professional profile. Try to prove your assertions with accomplishment statements that are quantified. For example, Produced technical documentation, brochures and flyers which were distributed via e-mail and the company’s website, contributing to a 56% increase in revenue.

Final Note: I continue to insist that, when at all possible, my customers tailor their résumés for each job they apply, as it demonstrates their knowledge of the position and effectively demonstrates their qualifications to meet the position’s requirements. This is ideal when you have a list of your top 20-30 companies, the companies for which you want to show your love.

4 ways to take control of your job search

Some jobseekers tell me they turn on their computer every day to log on to Monster, Dice, CareerBuilder, Indeed, and other job boards. They spend many hours a day applying for posted jobs, sending as many as 20 cookie-cutter resumes out a week, anticipating a call from a recruiter or Human Resources. They wait and wait and wait.

To these jobseekers I point out the futility of a job search like this, explaining that if they want faster results, they have to be more proactive. I tell them this in my Career Networking workshop.

First I talk about the “Hidden Job Market” which is a concept they understand, but I’m not sure they accept. When I tell them them connecting with others is the best approach to penetrating the HJM, I can hear them thinking how difficult it will be to get outside their comfort zone, to get away from their computer.

The message I try to deliver is that they have to be proactive, not reactive. They have to take control of their job search, not let it control them. Here are some ways you can be proactive in your job search:

Approach letters. Not oft used, these documents are ideal if you prefer writing more than using the phone, so you might be somewhat introverted. No job has been advertised. (Advertised jobs represent 20% of the labor market.) You’re not reacting to an advertisement.

The goal is to get an informational meeting or better yet, chance upon a possible opening that hasn’t been advertised (80% of the labor market). You must describe your job-related skills and experience and show the employer that you’ve done research on the company to boost the employer’s ego. Read Teena Rose’s article on approach letters.

Good ole’ fashion networking. Normally we think of networking as strictly attending organized meetings where other jobseekers go, doing their best not to seem desperate. (I’ll admit that this type of networking is unsettling, although necessary.) The kind of networking I’m referring to is the kind that involves reaching out to anyone who knows a hiring manager.

Most of the people who contact me after they’ve secured a job tell me that their success was due to knowing someone at the company or organization. You must network wherever you go. Network at your kid’s or grandchildren’s basketball games, at the salon, while taking workshops, at family gatherings (see Any Time is Time to Network)—basically everywhere.

LinkedIn and other social media outlets. I recently received an in-mail from someone who is currently working but is not enjoying her experience. I’ll keep my ears open for the type of position she’s looking for because she asked me to. LinkedIn members who know the potential of this  professional online networking tool are reaching out to other LI members for information and contact leads.

Another one of my jobseekers is doing everything possible to conduct a proper proactive job search. He updates me on his job search and sends me job leads for me to post on our career center’s LinkedIn group. I’ve got a good feeling about this guy. He’s being very proactive by using LinkedIn and his vast personal network of professionals.

Follow Up. Allow me to suggest a must-read book called Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. I think this guy gets more publicity from me than any author I’ve read. The reason I recommend this book is because none of these three proactive approaches are useful unless you follow up on your efforts.

Never Eat Alone teaches you how to network in every situation and then how to keep your network alive by following up with everyone. I mean everyone. Send an approach letter, then follow up with the people to whom you’ve sent it. Network face-to-face, then follow up. Connect with someone on LinkedIn…you guessed it, then follow up.

Being proactive sure beats the hell out of only reacting to jobs that have been advertised and visible to hundreds, if not thousands of other jobseekers. It gives you a sense of accomplishment and yields more results than exclusively participating in the visible job market. Being proactive makes you believe that the job search will finally come to a halt, that the job search is in your hands.

Job search tip #5: Write a powerful cover letter

In the last article we talked about revising or writing your resume. Now we’re going to look at writing exciting cover letters. Your cover letters allow you to show your personality and demonstrate your strengths for a particular job.

All too often, though, the opening of a cover letter stops employers in their tracks. What’s your take on the following opening paragraph?

I read on Monster.com of a marketing communications writer position at ABC Company. Please consider my credentials for this exciting position.

Boring. That’s right, the opening paragraph of this cover letter is enough to bore employers to tears, yet this is a typical opening paragraph of many cover letters. In fact, you’ll see examples of this kind of opening paragraph in cover letter books or guides that display such apathetic, thoughtless verbiage.

You’ll be reentering the workforce, so make your mark with a cover letter that grabs the employer’s attention from the beginning. Let him know that you understand the nature of the position, the industry, and even the competition.

Are you looking for someone who has achieved success in marketing at one of your competitors? At my previous position I rose from an office clerk to authoring press releases and content for their website, as well as representing them at tradeshows in the New York City area. My supervisor at XYZ Company, John Bruce, told me to contact you regarding the marketing communications position you have in your marketing department.

Note: notice how the writer throws in a referral in her opening paragraph from her supervisor. Nice touch. 

Now you’ve grabbed their attention. But you won’t stop here. You’ll demonstrate your skills further in the second and third paragraphs.

At XYZ Company I was entrusted to write press releases that were published on the company’s website and featured in Mac World. My writing skills allowed me to pen “Words from the President” on the company’s website. So impressed was the president with my knowledge of the products and ability to promote them, that he rarely proofread the column that I wrote. I demonstrated the ability to quickly understand the company’s complex products and how to relate to our stakeholders. In addition, I became more involved in the organization of our quarterly trade shows, which was a testament to my diverse skills.

A quote from a supervisor or higher is a nice touch. The quote below can serve as the third paragraph.

“Maggie’s talent as a writer is truly impressive. She understood the direction of our organization, the value of our products, and our customers’ needs better than marketing writers that came before her. I wish we could keep her on at XYZ Company. Please don’t hesitate to call me if you have any questions regarding this fine, young talent.” Cheryl Masson, President, XYZ Company.

To conclude your cover letter, emphasize your interest in the position to show your enthusiasm and motivation.

I look forward to meeting with you to discuss this exciting position. I will contact you next Wednesday at 2:00 pm to arrange a convenient time for us to meet. If you would like to contact me before then, please call me at 815.555.0202 or at maggiejones@myemail.com.

Does this sound too forceful? Keep in mind that employers want job candidates that are confident and willing to take charge. Indicating a time you’ll call is perfectly acceptable, just as long as you follow through with your promise.

Some question the use of a postscript, but it will capture the reader’s attention. Finish with:

PS. Mr. Bruce will be willing to talk with you about my credentials.

The next tip is about creating your accomplishment list.

If you enjoyed this tip, start at the beginning with tip number one.


Job Search Tip #4: Revise…or…write your résumé

In the last article we looked at assessing your skills. Now we’ll look at revising your résumé or writing one. There are three notable challenges jobseekers are facing when revising or writing their résumé:

  1. Many haven’t kept up with writing their accomplishments while working.
  2. Some jobseekers are looking for work for the first time in 10, 20, even 30 years and now need to produce a résumé.
  3. Many college grads are looking for full-time work for the first time in a turbulent economy.

In all cases, today’s résumés have changed, with a focus on industry keywords, accomplishments, short-easy-to-read text blocks, and targeted delivery of your résumés.

Most résumés these days have a keyword-rich Branding Headline that accurately describes your occupation and areas of strengths. Each strength should be intended for a specific position. Here is an example:

Marketing Specialist | Public Relations | Program Development | Increase Visibility & Revenue.

A Performance Profile can make or break you. You have to grab the employer’s attention with a no-fluff, fact-revealing statement that serves as a snapshot of you and what is to follow for the rest of the résumé. To simply write the word, Creative does not have an impact.

However something like the following carries more weight:

Demonstrate creativity through initiating programs that have contributed to financial success by 55% annually.

More specific information should be included in your work history.

This statement should be directly related to what skill/s the employer’s looking for. As it’s relevant to one particular position, it may not be relevant to others and, therefore, shouldn’t necessarily be included on every résumé you submit.

Your Competency Section is meant to show employers what skills you possess, as well as additional skills that may be a plus to the employer. They are key words that should also show up in your headline and professional profile.

The Work History is the most important part of your résumé, so it must contain high-impact information that demonstrates your accomplishments. Duties are simply…duties; however, accomplishments sell. If you have a boatload of duties on your résumé, do your best to see how they can be turned into statements that show positive impact on the companies for which you worked.

Duty statement: Spearheaded the first continuous improvement committee at the company.

This is an accomplishment statement with a quantified result. Spearheaded the first continuous improvement process that eliminated redundant, costly programs. This resulted in an overall savings of $200,000.

Shortened one-line version: Spearheaded continuous improvement process eliminating costly programs, saving $200,000.

The final piece is your education section. For college grads, I’m a big fan of putting your hard-earned degree beside your name at the top of your résumé. In your education section fully spell the degree. And proudly list your GPA if it is higher than a 3.5/4.0 (there’s some debate over this).

Masters of Business Administration
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
GPA: 3.94/4.00

Martin Yate says it best, “No one likes to write a résumé.” He also says that a résumé is our most important financial document. No one said writing  your résumé would be easy, but as time goes on it becomes easier. Remember that each résumé must be tailored to a specific job. Even in this turbulent economy, jobs are being had; so never give up on your job search.

Next Friday we’ll look at writing your cover letter.

5 components of a jobseeker’s company called Me, Inc.

My son just learned how to cut the lawn…well sort of. I still have to follow him around, helping to guide the mower and making sure he doesn’t run over any objects hidden from his sight. The first time he cut the lawn, he ran over our dog’s wire cable, causing me to wonder if this would be the first and last time he’d cut the lawn.

As I’m helping him to better learn the fine art of lawn-mowing, I fantasize about my kid starting his own business, which would ultimately depend on him (or me) creating a company.

When I think about my 11-year-old son starting his own lawn mowing business, I relate it to my jobseekers who all have their own business–it’s called Me, Inc., a term Martin Yate applies to jobseekers, who are ultimately responsible for selling a great product, themselves.

In an article Martin wrote, he talks about the five components of Me, Inc. as they apply to jobseekers, which makes total sense because jobseekers are a business of one. Here is Martin’s explanation, verbatim, of the five components necessary for jobseekers to run Me, Inc.

  • Research and Development: Every corporation invests in the ongoing identification and development of products and services that will appeal to its customers. For Me, Inc. this translates into skill-building in response to market trends, which you do by connecting to your profession and by monitoring the changing market demands for your job on an ongoing basis.
  • Marketing and Public Relations: The effective branding of Me, Inc. as a desirable product requires establishing credibility for the services you deliver and positioning those services so that your professional credibility becomes visible to an ever-widening circle, both within a company—to encourage professional growth—and within your profession—to encourage your employability elsewhere.
  • Sales: Me, Inc. needs a state-of-the-art sales program to constantly develop new strategies to sell your products and services. This will include resume, job search, interviewing, negotiation, and other career management skills that must be developed to sell your products and services effectively.
  • Strategic Planning: This encourages you to create concrete plans to achieve the goals you have for your future: plans for growth with your current employer, plans to time strategic career moves that take you to new employers or new professions. Creating actionable strategies for the realities of your professional future enables you to make your plans happen on your timetable and not as a panicked reaction to unforeseen employment disruptions.
  • Finance: Treating personal finance more seriously will ensure you invest wisely in initiatives that will deliver a return on investment. You must invest in your future success rather than fritter away your income on the instant gratification drummed into your head by 24/7 media.

My son has years to go before he establishes his prosperous lawn-mowing company, but jobseekers must put to use what Martin proposes for a successful company called Me, Inc. Only when they take ownership of their job search will they operate as a successful business that sells a great product.

Martin Yate, CPC, author of Knock ‘em Dead: Secrets & Strategies for Success in an Uncertain World, is a New York Times and international bestseller of job search and career management books. He is the author of 11 job search and career management books published throughout the English speaking world and in over 50 foreign language editions. Over thirty years in career management, including stints as an international technology headhunter, head of HR for a publicly traded company and Director of Training and Development for an international employment services organization.

Checklist for 26 job-search topics for the New Year

For Christmas my wife sent me to the grocery store for various ingredients for our holiday dinner. I knew trying to remember all the ingredients was going to challenge my waning memory, so I asked her to write a list of said ingredients.

She rolled her eyes but understood how important it was for me to return with the proper ingredients–so important that her list numbered in the area of 25.

The lesson I learned from my shopping spree–by the way, I got all ingredients–was that it was akin to the list of must do’s in the job search.

In reading the list of must do’s below, ask yourself if you’re doing each one in your job search. For example, do you have an elevator speech? Have you attended informational meetings? Consider this the checklist below a partial list of your “ingredients” for the job search.

  1. Understand your workplace values.
  2. Determine what you want to do…what you really want to do. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a great tool.
  3. Hannah Morgan, Career Sherpa, suggests, “a personal marketing plan. It ensures better information gathering during networking meetings and more proactive rather than reactive job search actions.”
  4. Ask for an informational meeting to talk to someone to make sure you’re on the right track, or to introduce yourself to a company.
  5. Assess your skills and accomplishments. Make a list for both.
  6. Learn how to write your résumé. Attend workshops offered by your college or local career center.
  7. Write a targeted résumé with highlighted experience and accomplishments.
  8. Write a cover letter template, which will later be targeted for particular positions.
  9. Create a personal commercial or elevator speech which explains your value to the employer.
  10. Determine how you’ll approach the job search, making networking your primary method.
  11. Join LinkedIn with full intention of engaging, not using it as a place mat on the Internet.
  12. Copy and paste the contents of your new résumé to your LinkedIn profile, which you’ll modify to be a better networking tool.
  13. Develop a networking list that includes past colleagues and managers, as well as others who we’ll call your superficial connections.
  14. Formally let people know you’re out of work. How can they help you if they don’t know you’re looking?
  15. Develop business cards for your business—the product you’re selling is you.
  16. Attend networking events. Make sure you bring your business cards.
  17. Follow up with everyone with whom you’ve conversed and exchanged business cards.
  18. Send approach letters/e-mails to companies for which you’d like to work.
  19. Organize your job search by keeping track of your inquiries, contacts, résumés sent out, etc.
  20. Prepare for telephone interviews. Make sure all of the above written communications are in place.
  21. Ask for mock interviews which should be recorded and critiqued by a professional career consultant.
  22. Do your research on the jobs and the companies to which you apply.
  23. Double check your first impression, including attire, body language, small talk, and portfolio.
  24. Be prepared to answer the difficult questions concerning job-related, transferable, and personality skills.
  25. Have your stories ready using the STAR formula.
  26. Write thank you notes via e-mail or hard copy.

Have you been doing everything on this list, or the majority of them? If you are missing any of the above, make sure to nail them this year. Let me know of others I’m missing. Perhaps we can double this list. And yes, the meal was excellent.

6 reasons to pay someone to write your résumé; and my thoughts on installing a screen door

Last spring I made an attempt, albeit a weak one, to install a screen door on my house. As my wife stood watching hopeful that our house wouldn’t look like something from a ghetto, I kept thinking, “No way is this going to happen.” So it didn’t.

It should have gone this way: first, I would install the top, hinge, and latch trim; second, attach the 40 lb. door to the hinge trim; third, install the hardware that would make all this work, such as the handle, and the thingy that makes the door close slowly….

This is how it went: I called a contractor who said he would do the job for $35 an hour. I happily agreed.

Putting the screen door on my house got me to thinking about how writing a résumé for some people seems out of the realm of possibility; much like getting that damn screen door on my house to satisfy my wife. I started to empathize for people who feel paralyzed when they have to write their résumé.

Look, I come across people who haven’t written a résumé in years, maybe never. They haven’t used a word-processing application, don’t have a relative who has the time or inclination to write their résumé, and the thought of it scares the hell out of them. Plus, when they were applying for shipping and receiving jobs 25 years ago, they didn’t need a résumé.

Here’s what I suggest: get the help you need if you’re one of these folks who is paralyzed by writing the most important document in your life. Find a reputable agency that will take the time to write your résumé right the first time, and thereafter will update it for a very reasonable fee. Make sure of the following:

  1. Said agency has a stock of samples to show you and one that fits your needs in terms of a résumé and cost. A work history time-line and a list of keywords does not constitute a résumé. Believe me, I’ve seen these so called résumés.
  2. The person writing your résumé should guarantee you at least an hour or more to interview you to understand exactly what you do. Not someone who will note your occupation, go to his/her computer, create a cookie-cutter résumé, and take your $700.00.
  3. Those who require an executive résumé and can afford more than what is charged by an agency, should seek the help of a high-level writer who will focus more on accomplishments than simple duties. These expert résumé writers will charge significantly more, but their services will return your payment tenfold.
  4. My colleague, Bill Florin, makes a valid point. “An objective third party (pro writer) will see things in your history that are marketable, often things that you would discount or downplay entirely, Many people don’t like talking about and selling themselves.” Professional résumé writers make you talk about yourself.
  5. If you only require a basic résumé—truth be told, some people have minimal experience or have only done an adequate job—don’t be satisfied with a statement like, “Drove a truck from here to there.” You and your writer must get creative with your basic résumé. “Hauled an average of 20 tons of retail product, traversing the U.S.A. Driving record is spotless and time of delivery consistently met employers’ expectations.” Remember, you still have to separate you from the rest of the pack.
  6. Lastly, make sure a “soft copy” of your résumé is provided . Some writers will choke you for updating your résumé every time you need it sent out–this is after you’ve already coughed up $700.00.

Oh, if you’re a contractor who can install screen doors and perform other household tasks for less than $35.00 an hour, contact me. My house requires stucco repair and a bunch of other upgrades, as well.

5 components of a résumé and LinkedIn profile that brand you

bradingNow what? You have a personal brand that is great; it clearly shows your future value to employers, so now you have to show it to the world. You’ve heard it over and over that you’re a product to be sold to employers, the buyers.

However, if  your brand isn’t consistent, you’re not an established product. Consider how you’ll brand yourself with your résumé and LinkedIn profile.

Résumé

Your résumé is most likely the first document the employers will see, so your personal brand must have an immediate impact. If not, your chances of getting an interview are very slim. The following components of your résumé will contribute to your personal brand:

  1. A branding title tells potential employers exactly who you are, as well as what you’re capable of doing. It should consist of approximately 10 words that describe what you do, perhaps the industry/ies in which you work, and some strong skill areas.
  2. A Performance Profile section that contains no unsubstantiated adaptive (personality) skills. More substance in the form of illustration and less fluff will brand you as someone who does rather than says. No more than three-four lines are necessary if your content is sound and relevant for the jobs you’re pursuing. Wow statements always help brand you.
  3. Key skills for the positions you’re pursuing. Don’t highlight skills that are irrelevant for a particular position, e.g., strong written communication skills when verbal communication skills are essential.
  4. Job-specific accomplishments will effectively send a consistent branding message. While a show of your former/current responsibilities might seem impressive, accomplishments speak volumes.
  5. Keywords and phrases common to each position are not only necessary to be located by Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS); they’ll rouse attention from employers in a Core Competency section.

LinkedIn profile

Your consistent message demonstrated through your résumé carries over to your LinkedIn profile. While your profile and résumé are different, they are similar in how you deliver your branding message. Erik Deckers and Kyle Lacy, Branding Yourself Blog, wrote about the power of LinkedIn, 20 LinkedIn Case Studies for Branding Yourself. So take it from them; LinkedIn can be a powerful branding tool.

  1. Like on your résumé, a branding title will tell potential employers exactly who you are, as well as what you’re capable of doing. Your branding title and photo are what visitors to your profile will see first. Together they must make a great first impression.
  2. Your profile Summary will be different from your résumé’s Professional Profile; it is written in first- or third-person, but it must brand you as someone who demonstrates direction and potential greatness. You may use content from your commercial in your Summary. To some this is considered the most important section of your profile. You’re allowed 2,000 characters.
  3. List your outstanding technical and transferable skill in the Skills section. This section on your profile is similar to the Core Competency section on your résumé. The skills you list must show your proficiency, as opposed to your familiarity.
  4. Your Employment section will be briefer than your résumé’s, highlighting just the outstanding accomplishments from each job. Accomplishments speak louder than simple duty statements and are the most effective way to brand yourself.
  5. Keywords are just as important to have on your profile as they are on your résumé. Employers will only find you if your profile contains the keywords they enter into Advanced People Search. LinkedIn has a new Skill feature that analyzes your technical and transferable skills, indicating their projections and offering more suggestions, among other cool features.

Some additional components of your LinkedIn profile which will cement your consistent branding are ones not found on your résumé. The most obvious is a highly professional or business casual photo. Another useful area of your profile is Media which allows you to share PowerPoint or Prezi presentations, copies of your résumés, videos, and various other files.

Combining both documents, your brand with be more powerful than if you use a résumé alone. The résumé to respond to job ads and your LinkedIn profile to pull employers to you will be the powerful punch you need in your job search.

Don’t kill yourself revising your résumé; 5 rules on how to put it to use

I’ve been helping a customer with his résumé. Originally it was a sound résumé but weak in certain areas. He lacked a branding title, so I suggested he use title similar to what he uses on his LinkedIn profile. He needed to tighten up his writing, pay attention to typos. I also suggested he quantify his results. Mission accomplished.

Shortly after our meeting, he told me he would send me his “next” revision in a few days. In addition to the changes I suggested, he said he prettied it up a bit. They were aesthetic changes that probably wouldn’t play a big role in garnering him an interview. He is suffering from résumé obsession.

While aesthetics are nice, your résumé needs to be much more impactful than pretty font, interesting layout, unique bullet points, etc. Here are five general rules about putting your résumé to best use.

1. Yes, a powerful résumé is necessary. A résumé should lead with a strong branding headline to capture the employers’ attention, tell them who you are and what you’re capable of doing for them. This is where you first introduce the job-related keywords.

Follow your title with a concise, yet grabbing professional profile. All too often I see profiles with lofty adjectives that have no meaning unless they’re backed up with examples. Your profile is the roadmap to your work history; whatever you assert in it, you have to prove in the history.

The work history must demonstrate accomplishments that are quantified. Employers are looking for numbers, percentages, and dollar signs. Having accomplished this, along with an education section, your résumé is ready to go.

2. It’s only one part of your written communications. Let’s not forget a well-written cover letter that grabs the employers’ attention with the first sentence. Forget the tired, “I was excited to read on Monster.com of the project manager position at (company). Please find below my accomplishments and history that make me a great fit for this job.”

You have to show the employer you’re the right person for the job. This includes highlighting job-related skills and mentioning a couple of accomplishments. Like your résumé, the cover letter is tailored to each job.

3. Knowing your audience is key. Knowing who you’re sending your résumé and cover letter to is essential to your written communications campaign. Some of my customers are shocked when I tell them that they need to send their information to the hiring manager and Human Resources.

Further, they grapple with the idea of writing different verbiage for each audience. Whereas HR might be focused on determining that you meet the basic requirements, the hiring manager might want to know more about how you increased revenue by expanding territory in rural areas through utilizing a training program you developed. Net result, $249,000.

4. How you distribute it. It doesn’t end with hitting “Submit.” You can’t sit back and wait for recruiters and HR to call you for a telephone interview. Some believe that sending out five résumés a day is a personal accomplishment; yet they fail to follow up in a timely manner.

Worse yet, they don’t send their résumé and cover letter to targeted companies. This involves networking face-to-face or via LinkedIn to determine who the right contact is at the company. Distribute your résumé to the people who count, not individuals who are plucking your résumé out from an Applicant Tracking System.

5. LinkedIn is part of it. Whether you like it or not, it’s time to get onboard with LinkedIn. Go to Meg Guiseppi’s, C-Level Executive Job Search Coach, website to read about the importance of being involved with online networking. Countless success stories of job seekers getting jobs are proof that employers are leaning more toward LinkedIn than the job boards. They’re enabling the Hidden Job Market (HJM), and it’s time for you to participate.

Your LinkedIn profile should mirror your résumé (branding title, summary, work history, education) to a point. Each section on it will differ, plus there are applications and recommendations you can display on your profile that you couldn’t on your résumé. There must be a harmonious marriage between the two.

And, like your résumé, you must load your LinkedIn profile with keywords and phrases, and do it with frequency.

Fruitless pursuit. Trying to perfect your résumé and neglecting the aforementioned steps needed to make it work is similar to cleaning every snowflake from your steps and neglecting your entire walkway. A great résumé is what you aspire to create; a perfect résumé is not possible. Nothing’s perfect.

10 reasons why your résumé may be a zombie

zombie boyLast Halloween my son (at right) was talking about being a soccer-player zombie at least two months prior to this much-anticipated night. He explained he would paint his face white; outline his eyes with black; and, most importantly; apply fake blood to the sides of his mouth. The way he described it got me stoked for Halloween.

I shouldn’t have been surprised when his friend from up the street showed up as a zombie. Nor should I have been surprised when our adult neighbor walked over dressed as, you guessed it, a zombie. She was pregnant and had doll baby legs extruding from her large belly. I asked her what her husband was going to dress as, and she told me…a farmer zombie. Further, they dressed their one-year-old son as a zombie.

At least five zombie kids came to my door, and we were only one hour into a night of candy-crazed kids roaming the streets. I felt like I was in an episode of the Walking Dead.

What does last year’s Halloween have to do with the job search? It brings to mind how employers feel about the slew of résumés they receive that lack originality. Like nearly every kid (and adult) I saw dressed as zombies, employers are getting résumés that don’t speak to their needs; they are zombie résumés. Your résumé is a zombie if it has the following characteristics:

  1. A cookie cutter résumé. Written and done, is how some feel about their résumé. No thought about what employers need, therefore no mention of the skills and experience highlighting those needs. Like the zombies that arrived at my door, this résumé doesn’t make an impact.
  2. Failure to capitalize on your accomplishments. Quantified accomplishments are what immediately grab employers’ attention at first glance. Duty-based résumés don’t separate you from many other candidates.
  3. Contact information that lacks your LinkedIn URL. David Perry and Kevin Donlin, Co-Creators of The Guerrilla Job Search System, write, “If you’re not on LinkedIn and looking good, you don’t exist to most employers.” You have a zombie résumé if you’re not on LinkedIn and don’t proudly display it in your contact information.
  4. No branding headline. The best way to say who you are and what your areas of strength are is by having a headline that sets you apart from the other applicants. It’s where you first state keywords and phrases. Zombie résumés fail to make use of this valuable real estate.
  5. A say-nothing Performance Profile.  Zombie résumés start with statements like, Result-driven Project Manager with 20 years of experience in Manufacturing. Instead,  Project Manager who leads teams producing software that generate sales exceeding $3M in competitive manufacturing markets, would be more enticing to the employer.
  6. Your résumé isn’t prioritized. A zombie résumé fails to demonstrate your knowledge of what’s important to the employer, based on the job description. Your Profile should state your qualifications in order of the employer’s requirements, thus making her job of finding them very easy. Prioritize your statements.
  7. No core competency section. A résumé is not complete unless it has a Core Competency section that lists the skills required for a position, plus additional ones that can add to a person’s candidacy.
  8. The Work History lacks relevant accomplishments. Perhaps the most important aspect of a résumé is the Work History, but what makes it escape Zombie status is powerful accomplishment statements. Accomplishments that describe how you have contributed to the growth of an organization/company. Increased revenue, improved production, reduced costs, saved time are but a few accomplishments you should highlight.
  9. There’s no Training Section. If you were fortunate enough to receive training or took advantage of professional development, you should have a section for training. A zombie résumé contains no Training section and screams to employers that, “I have not taken advantage of bettering myself and keeping up with technologies.”
  10. The Education Section is incomplete and includes dates. All to often I have seen résumés that skimp on the Education section. Whether you earned a degree 5 years ago or 20, this section informs the employer that you started and completed something. Don’t be shy about writing that you made the Dean’s list four years running, something you accomplished through dedication and hard work.

Zombies roamed my neighborhood on Halloween walking lethargically, extending their hands for candy, just as many résumés lack the imagination and authenticity required to earn a place at an interview. Don’t submit a zombie résumé. Rather think about the ten important components of your résumé and how to make them strong. Who knows what next year’s Halloween will bring?

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