I have always had great interest in how others do their work, and more importantly how others utilized my work product. To deliver a report in person and actually observe it being used I always found to be a real learning experience.
I think you will agree that most financial reports are hard to read. So many columns of small type with typically additional columns of percentages out to spurious accuracy — it is no wonder that most folks think we are nuts or worse, not good at the art of communication.
If I assigned point values for readability, not many resumes I see would get a passing grade. At times it would seem that the sender is challenging me to take out my magnifying glass, dictionary, and thesaurus as well as be plugged into the Internet for research, just to read their most important marketing document.
Most of the work we do in The FECG is finding members to work for Alumni members. We take this stuff pretty seriously. We can’t just hit the delete key. All of you are friends and since we have met so many of you, we know the value is buried there somewhere if we just look. After all, we start with the idea that you read the posting and thought you were a fit. Our challenge is to figure out why. For any given assignment we are handling, our goal is to make sure it goes to SOMEONE in The FENG, and not to a stranger. (A stranger is a non-member.)
Even though we believe in your sincerity in forwarding your credentials, the truth is we can’t send all of the responses we get to our clients and let them decide, even if they are members of The FENG. If we did that, our clients and typically fellow members would be facing a “forest for the trees” problem of the first order.
One of the assignments we handled recently was not for a member of The FENG. It was a high paying job in a major city and as a result we received almost 100 responses. Quite a challenge even for us very dedicated types. As with my weekly review of new member candidates, at the end of the day, someone has to decide. The problem is how.
I have recommended before that each of you attend as many meetings of your local chapter as possible and at each meeting, keep a copy of every resume that is shared with you. Try to get a pile of 100. (I like round numbers, don’t you?)
Anyway, your goal is to put your resume in the middle of the pile (no cheating) and try to find it. Now take this same pile and try to pull out people from a particular industry. Now go through the pile and see if you can find folks with a particular discipline such as Aerospace & Defense or Manufacturing.
I think you will find it is VERY challenging. This is the task being performed every day by those receiving your resume. It is a little less random than the test I suggest above, but I hope it will get you thinking.
Most searches fall to industry experience, skill set and location in that order. The location one is pretty easy, but the industry experience and skill set ones are harder. Think of it this way, those resumes with the right industry experience will be more closely examined for skill set. In other words, if industry isn’t obvious, skill sets alone don’t win the day.
How do you fix this problem? First and foremost, understand that although I wasn’t born yesterday, many of the folks screening piles of resumes were. Although I come to the task of finding candidates for our clients with almost 50 years of reading The Wall Street Journal, the youngsters of the world haven’t. Spoon feed them a bit. Write a cogent sentence about the nature of each firm on your resume. It will go a long way toward getting you into the “hard read” pile. (As opposed to the “hard to read” pile which goes in the circular file.)
Also, out of consideration for those of us who go bleary eyed early in the day, try to keep your font sizes at 12 point and your margins at 1 inch all the way around. I know you might have to leave off some of what you consider to be EXTREMELY valuable information, but accept the fact that no one is going to read it anyway if you don’t get into the “later reading” pile.
Don’t let your credentials blur the minds of those you want to impress. Help them help you find a high paying job by making it possible for them to recognize your fit and value “at a glance”.