As a resume writer, my goal is always results. The first result I want when I craft a resume is that the document enhances confidence. Without exception, every client I work with has authentic and significant value, and when that is communicated effectively, the client should walk away not only believing in the marketing message, but believing in themselves.
Second, I want the resume to elicit opportunities to further their career. Whether they are aiming at a job opening with a new organization, or looking to apply for a promotion or speaking engagement, a resume should allow for the best chance at getting in the door. You “sell” yourself on your own – that’s what the interview process is all about – but don’t have the opportunity to present your personality or describe in detail your accomplishments until you are sitting on the other side of the interviewer.
Resume design and job seeking is not an exact science, so there are no guarantees that a sleek resume with impressive and complementary credentials will open the door. I myself have put in applications for positions that I knew were meant for me, that aligned so perfectly with my qualifications that it felt like a sure thing, and despite having a resume that I felt effectively represented my perfect positioning for the role, I didn’t get the call. And after further investigation (I had to know what happened!), I found that my resume was never even seen by the eyes of HR. Too many applicants, not enough time to look through them all. Or, in some cases, HR never even gave the pile an initial glance. So-and-so’s uncle used his connections and what was once an external posting became instantaneously redundant.
Yes, this fact of the job search process can be discouraging, and considering the effort required to submit most applications, it can leave an individual feeling like the whole process is pointless. If someone can come in and sweep up an opportunity without any effort, or a resume can easily get lost in a black hole of applications, why bother putting in the effort and expense?
For one, you can’t expect results unless you try. But more than that, even if there are often seemingly unexplainable instances where you didn’t get the call you expected to, the odds are still in your favor if you are truly qualified for a position and have been able to effectively communicate that. In other words, if you know you’re well suited for a job, put in your best application and trust that you have an excellent chance.
So how do you increase the odds of getting noticed? What factors are really at play when all things are equal?
Establish a Professional Brand
To some, this seems like more than is necessary, but a personal and professional brand is essentially the foundation of all of your job search efforts. Your brand is your story – it is what you are attempting to communicate through social media channels, networking opportunities, resumes, cover letters, interviews, and even chance encounters with old acquaintances (“so what are you doing now?”) Your “brand” is not necessarily a logo and color scheme for your professional identity, but it is a consolidated concept of who you are as a professional and what you bring to the table. The more clarity you have regarding what you are passionate about and what value you possess, the more power you will have in any efforts you make to market that worth.
Create a Professional Resume
Some people feel that in a world where 80% of job opportunities are found through word of mouth resumes are often unnecessary. And although it was once commonplace for many professionals to go through an entire career without ever needing to use a resume, the constantly changing working landscape of today has rendered these scenarios much less familiar. Moreover, the chance for opportunities to present themselves outside of the scope of a simple job search are much more prevalent. Social media has changed professional visibility, giving potential employers, colleagues and clients an expectation that if they are to work with you, they should first know you. Posting a resume to a social media profile like LinkedIn can be a key piece in being discovered for a career or even a collaboration. Today, with the frequency of use of reviews, ratings and referrals, having a document that clearly outlines your qualifications can be a quick and effective way of mitigating the challenges of establishing credibility. And, of course, if you want to apply for that dream position that was just posted and you don’t (or even if you do) have a connection, you’ll need a resume that tells the best possible story about your suitability.
Use Appropriate Channels
As I said above, the power of having an “in” when it comes to the job hunt is undeniable. If you are looking for work, it is always in your best interest to explore your connections and leverage any networks or contacts you may have on hand. However, this is certainly not always an available option for each situation, so knowing what channels are available for promoting yourself is key. Consider the following in your search:
- Apply directly to the organization: Even if a company hasn’t posted opportunities, if you know you want to work for them and your values align, it’s worth the effort to contact them directly. The closer you can get to contacting the actual hiring manager, the better.
- Post your resume online: It’s not always the most fruitful of avenues, but it can’t hurt, especially if it’s on one or two major job-search sites (Indeed, LinkedIn, Monster)
- Leverage social media: Though it may seem a bit shameless, getting it out there that you are available to contribute your expertise to a new and exciting adventure through social media channels (when done appropriately) has the potential to earn you some insight into openings and get you the unexpected “in” you’re looking for.
- Recruitment firms: These can be hit or miss, but they do exist for a reason, and if you are a professional that has unobscured or overly specialized credentials, recruitment firms can often be effective if finding you an interview.
- Independent consultancy: If you are unemployed, get a business card. It doesn’t have to state a job title or previous position, though having some relevant branding can have value. A card that has your contact information that you have on hand, should any opportunities present themselves, can prove to be extremely useful. Presenting yourself as a “consultant” that is available to contribute expertise, employed or not, gives you an advantage. You aren’t looking for work, you are open to scenarios for professional contribution and expansion.