How Have Resumes
And What To Do When What You're Doing
By Sue Campbell,
Resumes today are changing in how they determine
qualified candidates. It used to be that a simple accounting of one's work and educational
experiences was enough to be titled "resume."
Today, the competition due to
layoffs, downsizing and women joining the work force in greater numbers has resulted in a
decrease in the number of available positions as more people vie for them. Old positions
are becoming obsolete as technology creates new ones, technology is ever changing and
creating new demands and deficits, and the idea of remaining in any one position or career
for an entire work-life is no longer a realistic expectation.
The result is a need for
something more. This "more" comes in the form of "benefits" of
service, allowing the reader to appreciate the benefit of hiring someone over
a competing candidate
with similar skill sets. The assumption is that if an individual brought benefit to a
past employer (achievements), a new employer may enjoy the same type of beneficial service.
So what can make a resume "weak" is the
same thing, in its opposite, that can give it strength.
Consider, for example, that the
recipient of your resume may be faced with 100 or more resumes for a single
available position. Chances are that within that stack
of documents is at least one other resume that illustrates a background similar
to yours. The question the reader will then be asking is, "Which of these candidates
offers the greatest beneficial value from their skills, abilities and experience?"
Your achievements will be the deciding factor. Does your resume showcase or
highlight your achievements effectively? Does it showcase them at all?
If the resume fails to explain past achievements and
benefits clearly, it will be left to the reader to try to determine possible benefits.
This is unlikely. Faced with the reading of 100 resumes or more the reader simply doesn't
have the time to guess, nor would
he or she be willing to risk the accountability of
Candidates often forget that the decision maker
within the hiring process is feeling his or her own brand of pressure. This person is being
held accountable for their selection of the best candidate for the position. He or she will have to
justify his or her decision, as well as backing up the reasoning for hiring one
candidate over another. A resume that clearly defines the additional benefits
(achievements) offered provides a good foundation for this reasoning.
What you do in the
interview will further determine the decision maker's justification for hiring you.
Does your resume effectively portray the person you are at an interview? In the
interview situation, can you productively back up what is written in your
One Page Restriction
The old standard that a resume should be no more
than a page in length has changed. Two pages is fine, even
when hiring managers say they prefer a one-page document - IF (and this is an
important "IF") the information contained is valuable to your reader and
relevant to the position you're targeting.
Three pages needs to be looked at
closely (your potential employer may wonder why you cant express your qualifications
in a more concise manner).
All the information contained in your resume should
be relevant to the position and company being targeted, and key information should always
be presented as early as possible in the document. If your
information isn't relevant to the job or company being targeted - take it out!
A resume may only receive an initial viewing of as
little as 15 seconds, or less. This means a third page is likely to never be
"read" at all, or skimmed at best. Three pages is a lot to ask of the readers'
time, so only provide this lengthy of a document if you think its absolutely
necessary or required.
The resume needs to provide an honest accounting of
the candidate's history. This information should then be prioritized with consideration to
a potential employer's needs. This way the reader does not have to search for the
qualities and abilities they are looking to fill.
What To Do When What You're Doing
Don't assume this job search will be just like the
last job search. It may be harder or easier, but chances are it will be different. The
methods used to secure the last position may not be the methods that succeed in securing
the next. Use all the avenues available to you in this job search.
Don't set your sights on the one perfect potential offer
and stop all other activities and search efforts. No job opportunity is a guarantee until
the job has been offered and accepted. Keep looking, keep submitting resumes, keep
applying, and keep interviewing for other positions, even when you believe, in your heart
of hearts, that an offer is in the air.
Don't focus all your energy and extra time on your
job search. Establish a set number of hours per day or week that you will devote to
securing a new position and use any extra time available to: improve yourself (take a
course, read, learn a new skill), catch up with friends and family, catch up on activities
or projects you haven't had time to enjoy or complete, volunteer to a cause that means
something to you, meditate and relax, help someone else, and have some fun. Even though a
job search can be a stressful and frustrating process, you've been given an opportunity
(particularly if you're temporarily unemployed) to take stock and breathe. Creating
balance in your job search will make you more productive and enthusiastic, and will
increase your chances for success. Besides, you ought to enjoy this time, because once
you've secured a new position it may be a while before you have such freedom again.
Don't let fear of the unknown overwhelm you. Rather,
think of all the possibilities, envision yourself doing what you want to do and being
where you want to be. Focus your energies on the positive, see it in your mind, believe it
will happen, and make it happen.
Don't be afraid to ask for help.
Don't be afraid to offer help. Your interviewer and
potential employer is looking for solutions. Go in as a positive problem solver and you
will increase the perception of your hiring value tenfold.
Don't let negative experiences or feelings from past
events or positions cloud, hinder or damage your ability or opportunity to secure a new
position. Rethink these situations and find the positives. Focus on these positives and
what you have gained or learned from the experience and use this new level of
understanding to your advantage. Speaking negatively about past employers, coworkers, or
employment situations acts as a mirror and reflects back poorly on the candidate. Instead,
think of how you have overcome this negative situation and what positive attributes you
now bring to the new job.
Do have your resume reviewed for strengths and
weaknesses. Talk to the people who are currently responsible for hiring in the field,
industry or position you want to secure, regardless of whether a position opening
currently exists. Have these individuals review your resume. Have them offer you
suggestions on areas in need of definition, improvement, or greater experience. Allow them
to guide you in ways you can improve your opportunities, and follow through on their
suggestions. If willing, have them review a second version of your improved document.
Do network with professionals in your industry of
choice. Talk to the people currently doing the type of work you want to secure and learn
from them. Join professional associations. Participate in professional events. Do offer to
mentor other individuals when given the opportunity.
Do establish goals, but don't set your ultimate goal
as your immediate goal. Envision your ultimate goal and determine what steps are necessary
and what shorter term goals must be met, first, in order to reach the ultimate goal.
Establish flexible time frames in which to meet these smaller goals and celebrate your
success upon reaching each, before moving to the next goal.
Do use every avenue available to get your resume and
information out to your targeted market. This includes applying to jobs posted in Internet
databases, career-related Web sites, newspaper ads, and professional publications. Contact
recruiters (but only those who are employer-paid). Contact college placement professionals
and representatives from your alumni college. Search the Internet, phone book, library
reference guides, and professional publications for information on companies of interest,
and contact them (after you've done your homework and regardless of whether or not a job
position is being advertised or made known). Attend career fairs and industry-related
events (and have your resume ready for distribution at these events). Attend corporate
open houses. Tell everyone you know that you are in the market and what you can do.
Volunteer your services to organizations in need.
Do prepare yourself for interview situations by
practicing your public speaking and interviewing skills, preparing appropriate answers to
difficult questions, focusing on what value and benefit your skills and experiences can
contribute to the companies you're currently targeting, and how you are presenting
yourself to others in both mannerisms and dress. Do mock interviews, tape your responses,
and have these mock interviews critiqued by someone you respect and trust. Work on problem
areas until your answers and responses to these situations are comfortable, professional
Do thank everyone who has helped you in this job
search, and follow up on all job interviews with notes of appreciation, it can be the
deciding factor between two equally qualified candidates. Don't assume that everyone
follows up an interview with a note, because very few candidates actually do. By showing
your appreciation to those who have helped you in your job search, you'll build your
network and keep allegiances strong.
Do continue managing your career and building up
your network, even after you secure the perfect job. Update your resume periodically,
while the information is current and fresh in your mind. Record your achievements and
recognize how your efforts have made a difference and benefited those who employ you.
Career management is an ongoing process.
Do offer to help others in similar situations and
become a mentor.
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