Documents such as your beautifully crafted resume and other portfolio items definitely matter, but what can really land the job for you and knock out other candidates is ‘style’. We all know that every candidate is different but the ways in which most decision makers discover and select ‘winning’ applicants are strikingly simple and similar.
What you and many other job seekers may not realise, however, is that the first interview is about to begin.
I am talking about the 20-second visual interview where the recipient of your documents quickly evaluates your candidacy based solely on ‘how’ you’ve applied for the job. I regularly remind and encourage all my job seeker clients to remember that the 1st quick look at your application is often conducted by overworked, unimaginative appointees.
I am not kidding you when I tell you that many applications are opened by receptionists, team assistants, temps or, worst case, potential co-workers who have been delegated the job of sorting through the incoming applications. These guys don’t offer you the chance to respond to initial questions and concerns; it’s just them, your resume, and that dreaded “delete” key.
I vividly remember one recruiting assignment in July 2010 where I reviewed over 2600 submissions and interviewed approximately 200 candidates over a period of less than 4 weeks. All of them applied for the same job as Fibre Technician (several positions were available) on the Optus Fibre Network Project. These candidates were picked for interviews because their documents stood out ‘with style’ and, in the end, nearly 30% of them actually landed the job after the 1st interview.
I am not suggesting that you add funky stationary, cool fonts and hip layouts. These designs could eventually kick you out of the 1st selection if the employer or recruiting firm works with outdated ATS software. It’s actually much simpler and much easier than you think. So impress with style!
You have a name, so why not use it?
Imagine how it feels when you receive 200 applications and 80% of the reference titles and attachments are titled poorly or simply named resume.doc or resume.pdf.
It is amazing how many candidates actually forget to supply proper naming conventions to their reference lines or application attachments. The first rule for the names in your file attachments is to follow the instructions of the job ad and the rest is all about you and your name: Joe.Smith.resume.doc. Got it? You don’t want that poor Hiring Manager to browse through the inbox or the for 5 minutes when you call to check on your application – do you?…
Keep it simple and reduce it to the max!
We are all different and we are proud of our achievements and experiences but you are not at the interview yet! So, keep it simple and focus on the ‘What IS my resume task’?
If you’re like most people who try to answer this question, you’ve probably come up with responses to the effect of “an overview and summary of personal skills, interests, employment history, attributes and professional experience.” Sound about right?
Now ask yourself this… did your response relate in any way to the PURPOSE or function of a resume? Did it speak to what your resume is designed to do?
If you answered honestly and thoroughly, you’ve probably recognized a few fundamental responses, like “help me land interviews” or “grab the attention of prospective employers” or “help me to score a new job”. In other words, what your resume IS happens to be far less important than what your resume is designed to DO.
Your resume, like everything else, is designed to serve a purpose. I believe that a resume is first and foremost a sales document. It has to be designed to be direct, specific and blunt…so keep it simple and reduce it to the max!
Your resume is a sales tool!
Yes, I mean it! Your resume is a sales tool in the form of a letter/short document. Marketing and promotion may not be your cuppa but opinions and judgments aside, are you not absolutely using your resume to sell yourself to that potential employer? The question is rhetorical. It’s fact.
Effective marketing is your foundation. You are worth what you negotiate. And, who wants to start the negotiation on a weak foot?
Knowing what a resume truly is can be a huge sales advantage, which is why it’s also important to me to bring up a point on ethics. You can think of it as the Values of Resume Writing (because that sounds fancy), but it’s really just common sense and old-fashioned honesty.
Guiding Principle: ALL information you present on your resume and throughout the hiring process
must be truthful, factual and accurate. Always.
Does that mean you’re stuck with your current resume content? Absolutely not! There are many clever ways to polish and refine your content that fall well within the bounds of professional ethics and integrity. Remember, your particular set of skills and experience are broader than you most likely appreciate and can be moulded and refined to fit a variety of requirements.
We live in a society that is used to speed, so this rapidly accelerating pace of decision making means effective positioning of facts and details is an absolute necessity. The key is learning how to present your skills and experiences in a way that works with the resume-scanning tricks used by the people making decisions about you as a potential candidate.
This is one of the driving forces behind the New Rules of Resume Writing.
Get to the Point
Have you ever heard the saying “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”? It’s never more true than in resume writing, just like it is in networking or dating.
Be honest … One brief look can often set the tone for an entire first date, and that same miniature moment of time is what you can reasonably expect from anyone who is tasked with reading your resume. You don’t have to become stressed about getting right to the point and showing them something relevant, and doing so without a lot of preamble and wasted space. My partner would eventually comment that this is very German to be that direct, but I think it is common sense.
As one of my mentors used to say, “Treat the beginning of your resume like the front page of a newspaper and make sure it JUMPS out at readers.” The advice is even more relevant today than ever before.
The rest of the rules require a bit more depth of explanation than can be offered here but all point to a common theme – making sure others can readily find and identify you as a viable match for their opportunities. (I will have more detail in my next video blog in August 2013)
I am happy to discuss the subject of ‘style’ further with you. You know how to contact me. If you have any commentary, suggestions, insight or tips, share the post or write me directly.
In the meantime,