I have written on many occasions about how to structure your resume. I have also written about bringing your resume through stages of development. Like any selling document it is essential that you keep it growing and fresh.
Going through the birth pangs of building your resume can often feel like you are taking out your own appendix without the benefit of anesthetic. (Actually, it is a little more painful.)
Still, without this important document looking its best you are going to be hard pressed to be selected out of a batch of 200+ resumes.
After you have the framework easy to read (there are model resumes out on our website), and you have polished the prose, the next stage is to listen very carefully to any customers you may encounter for your services.
The sense I frequently get from our members is the mistaken belief that they are like a remarkable power tool of some kind and if they just describe the tool with its shiny chrome finish and rechargeable battery (and it comes with lots of accessories), they will be selected for that wonderful job they have always wanted.
As I learned in my many years in the advertising business, people don’t want ¼ inch drill bits, they want ¼ inch holes. And, they want to be able to drill lots and lots of them in all kinds of materials. The best approach is to position your product (which is you) as the solution to their problem of the day.
Inexperienced sales folks do something called “throwing up on the customer.” They are so imbued with product knowledge that they want to share (before they forget it) that they do most of the talking. They never actually hear what the customer wants or needs. Never mind whether or not their product will satisfy his/her needs.
If you think of any job search as a series of successive approximations (I do love that phrase), the first stage to you getting in front of someone who is interested in your services is a job posting or phone call. It is sort of like the old “run it up the flag pole and see who salutes.” Out of this process, which might initially include most of humanity, comes those who feel they fit.
You have in front of you the CUSTOMER’S requirements, and you think you fit. The question I would have for you is do you actually take a hard look at your resume to see if you are selling what they want? Yes, I know you feel as if you can do what they need done, but is your resume going to “sell” you into that situation?
Believe me, I have been there. Having multiple resumes is a real nuisance. (Frankly, it is hard enough just to write one version and have it print correctly.) But without the ability to take the requirements of the job and point to specific things on your resume, any reviewer is going to be hard pressed to put you in the “for further review” pile.
On just the basics of the resumes I see each week, I am always astounded how difficult most folks make it to pick out company names and titles. More specific details and difficult to define qualities are even harder to find.
For example, I try to make sure that each of our new members is placed into appropriate special interest groups. Take manufacturing for example. When I see an industrial company I sort of assume the prospective member has a wealth of manufacturing experience. It is kind of hard to hang out in that kind of environment and not absorb something. (Look at my knowledge of advertising and publishing. And, those weren’t even my job responsibilities.) However, there is often no mention of such involvement and I have to assume that they are leading with their best. (I guess they only did general accounting.)
I once had a second conversation with one of our many friends in the search community. I had explained at great length (and those who know me know I CAN talk) about “qualified members only please use my name in contacting” and how this delivered only those who fit.
Well, she accepted my challenge and called all who applied even if she didn’t think from WHAT THEY HAD SENT that this was the case.
Although there were a select few who shouldn’t have applied, the primary problem was “a failure to communicate.”
So, the next time you find a really juicy posting in our newsletter, take and minute and see if you can find the issues described in the posting on your resume. (Yes, I know, I’m tired of reading your resume too!)
You may find that you are leaving your sales pitch half done. And in this case, half done isn’t much better than neglecting to apply.