As I started talking about in Back to the Jobhunt, I was finally allowed to work in the US after almost a year of waiting through Immigration. I needed a job, and one I enjoyed–and I’m describing the How To of that process so you can follow it.
Leg 1 of our job search model is “Stand Out.” We want to stand out in order to get the attention of employers, so that they will talk with us. No dialogue = no job offer. We want to stand out also because of our clarity in what we have to offer, and what we want to do. Well-presented specifics result in interviews and offers. Time and again I’ve seen them overcome deficits in experience or skills of the candidate compared to the job description.
Now let me advise you that, on the resume side, my system works best for people applying to small and medium sized businesses. If you’re applying to an institution or large firm like GE, then you’ll have to do something different: load your resume with key words their HR optical scanners are looking for. In my approach, we are trying to get the attention of hiring employers who are actually picking up and looking at hardcopies of resumes.
A word about the difference between hiring managers and human resources: hiring managers are hoping to be wowed; human resources/recruiters are hoping to safely match up experience and skills with job description bullet points. As you’ve probably figured out, I like the former and dislike the latter. In the interview stage, however, what I have to say applies in both situations.
So how exactly do we stand out? First, we must be clear with ourselves about what the role is that we want. Linked to the second leg of the stool, we must stand by that—not give up when things look tough and fall back on something else. I’ve been there, when it looks like you’re never going to find a good match in your field, and you just want to give up and go back to something else. Say you’re just not finding a technical sales role that meets your needs, and so in your fear you’re thinking Why not go back to a factory production role? No! In my experience, if you stick it out just a little longer, the thing you want will come along.
Some tips to Stand Out:
- In the top third of the first page of your resume, you must clearly and concisely explain to potential employers what you want to do and how you provide value. You can do this in point form, or paragraph form. If you want to ‘hit the highlights,’ use point form. If you want to ‘set the mood’ of what you can do, use paragraph form.
- Each and every claim you make on your resume must be backed up by numbers or other facts. If you accomplished something but don’t have a record or copy of it, be prepared to get a reference for it. Sometimes, I realize, this just isn’t possible; however, know that they will ask you about the thing you have the weakest support for (it’s Murphy’s Law), and you had better have a plan for dealing with that question.
- Your resume’s job is to paint a mental picture of what you have and can accomplish for employers, so that they will get excited enough to want to meet you.
- Do not merely reiterate job descriptions. Show results.
Up next: Leg Two of the metaphorical stool representing my job search model—Fight Fear!
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