Working hard for the money begins BEFORE you land the job.

Why should I hire you?

This is a very, very important question.  But it is one that most people completely overlook when searching for new employment.

Ladies and gentlemen…the jobs are out there.  They are available.  They have been for a while.  So, if you’ve been looking and looking for a job…and you’ve sent in your resume for at least 50 jobs…and you either haven’t gotten a call or you didn’t pass the interview…perhaps the problem is not that there aren’t any jobs out there.

Hmmm…interesting.

Yes, I’m going to say it.  Maybe – just maybe – it’s time to take a closer look.  Perhaps the blame for your unemployment can be found by looking in a mirror.

Now, before you get your knickers in a twist and immediately scroll down to the comment section or hit the little X up there in the corner, hear me out.  Or, um, read me out.

I work in the recruiting and staffing industry.  I have for many years.  And, yes, it is true that job availability took some pretty significant dips.  I don’t deny that.  But we’ve been busy for the past 6 years.  Really busy.  The company I work for has grown every year for the past 6 years.

EVERY year.

Every year, we win more clients.  Every year, we need to hire more staff to handle our business.

EVERY year.

We have retained all of our clients over the past 3 years.

So, if there are no jobs, why is our company so busy?

Read on.

My theory is pretty simple:  People don’t know how to be solid applicants for jobs.

Somewhere along the line, the skills necessary to apply for and win employment have gotten very lost.  As a society, we just don’t know the basics anymore.  Only a few have retained the skills.  And it’s these few who get the jobs.

So, is all hope lost?  Should you just give up completely and pray that unemployment benefits will, once again, be extended so you don’t have to worry about getting a job?  Is it time to start putting that underwater basket weaving class you took during your Senior year of college – just so that you could get a PE credit and graduate – to use by opening an ebay store?

No.  All hope is not lost.  There are things you can do to make yourself a viable candidate.

The way to a hiring manager’s interview list is through your resume

Take time to actually write a resume…a good resume.  What does that mean?  Well, here are a few tips:

  • Formatting is your friendFirst and foremost, take the time to prettify your resume.  A pretty resume tells the person reviewing it that…
    • You put some effort into the resume
    • You have organizational skills – trust me, you don’t want your resume to look unorganized.  That’s not a good impression.
    • You understand how to use a basic word processing program – computer skills are a must!
    • Bullet points are awesome!
  • Know the difference between an “Objective” and a “Summary”.  
    • An Objective lays out your goal – what you hope to achieve.
      • “To obtain full-time employment” is not a good objective.  Want to know what goes through the reviewer’s mind when s/he sees that type of objective?  I’ll tell you:  “No shit, Sherlock!”
      • Think this out.  It should be one, good sentence.  It should be a complete sentence.  It should be a grammatically correct sentence.
    • A Summary gives a snapshot of your skills and achievements.
      • Remember that bullet points are your friend.
      • Make sure the skills and achievements are applicable to the position you’re applying for. (“Phones” doesn’t say much.  But mentioning a particular phone system that you used in a recent call center position just might be relevant.)
  • Include dates of employment: This is so important!
    • Hiring managers want to know how long you’ve worked at your previous jobs.  They are looking for specific qualifications and skill sets.
    • Make it easy by always put the month/year that you started and the month/year that you left the position.
  • Accomplishments are much more eye-catching than duties.

    • Keep it simple. It’s not necessary to put in your entire job description.
    • Keep it interesting. What did you accomplish in your previous jobs? (Did you manage a team of 10 trainers?  Or did you develop practices that reduced training costs by 30% while increasing training effectiveness by 60%?  See the difference?)
  • Explain large gaps in employment.  
    • If you were out of work for significant periods of time between jobs – say a year or more – list that time as if it were another job and explain the reason for the gap.  Did you go back to school?  Did you become a stay-at-home parent?  Were you caring for an ill family member?  Were you recovering from surgery?
    • Don’t get too detailed in your descriptions – hiring managers don’t need to know all the minutiae.  Just give the highlights.
    • Don’t make up fancy names for things you did.  It’s perfectly okay to say “Stayed home to take care of my children.”  It is not necessary to say that you were “Chief financial planner and organizer” with descriptions of how you organized the kids chores, paid the bills, and made sure that dinner was made every night.  Trust me, the fancy stuff doesn’t make you seem fancy – just silly.
  • If you spent time volunteering while unemployed, mention it.
    • Go ahead and include any unpaid volunteer work you might have performed.
    • This shows that you’re not lazy – you get up and get things done.
    • This shows that you have a community focus – many companies like that.
    • This shows that you continued to use your skills even while unemployed.
  • Include your education.
    • People very often forget to do this.  But you definitely should.  Our experiences in education often lend good insights into some jobs, so employers want to know about it.
    • Include any education you might have received. (High School, College, Vocational School, etc.)
      • Name of school
      • Major or area of study
      • Degree achieved or expected
      • Date of graduation or expected graduation
  • Don’t include references unless specifically asked.  Just make sure you have them ready if they are requested!
  • Don’t lie.  Everything you put on a resume can be verified.  

These are just some basic tips to remember when constructing a resume.  My team and I review hundreds – yes, hundreds – of resumes a week.  During particularly hectic periods, that number can increase to a thousand.  Since we only have so much time to spend on resume reviews, we don’t get to read every word that is on the page.

You need to catch my attention in the first 10 seconds – here’s what I see in those 10 seconds:
  1. Is it pretty and easy to read?
  2. Can I easily read the name of the company, the position title, and the dates of employment?
  3. Is the objective clear, concise and appropriate?  (i.e., don’t say that your objective it to work in IT if you’re applying for a customer service representative position.)
  4. Is it free of typos, misspellings, grammatical errors, or formatting errors?

If the answer to all of these questions is “yes”, then you have my attention and I’ll look more closely at your resume.

(Future posts will include tips for interviews – both Telephone and Face to Face.)

3 thoughts on “Working hard for the money begins BEFORE you land the job.

  1. Pingback: Job interviewing is NOT for Dummies…so don’t be one (Telephone Interviews) « Frivolous Views

  2. This is a lot of great advice for free – when I was hiring folks years ago these were the things I looked for in a resume, and nothing has changed it seems.

    Like

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