It’s a New Year. Time for New Year’s resolutions and a new you, especially if you are getting back into the world of business. If so, then you need to refresh your appearance.
If it has been a while since you were in the workforce, then you might think it’s time to refresh your professional wardrobe and look. It is all in the details you say to yourself thinking that scuffed shoes and or hems can make an otherwise clean and professional look dated and give away the length of your absence from the job market. Maybe it is time for you to freshen up your wardrobe, hair-cut and get a manicure.
And once you get to an interview the last thing you want is for your presentation to give away details that should best go undetected; unfortunately the sad reality of today’s marketplace is that the real challenge lies in getting to that stage, to that interview.
When companies are getting hundreds of resumes for each job opening the real first challenge is scoring that interview to begin with. So instead of focusing on putting together a new you, focus on what the companies will be using to determine whether to meet the new you -- your resume.
You need to understand that going forward you will need to constantly refresh your resume the same way you would refresh your look and tailor it to the particular company and position being interviewed for. If the company is very formal, then you will wear a more formal business suit. If the company is laid back, then it’s time for a set of neat black pants with a nice classic top.
The hardest thing for candidates to completely understand is that in more and more companies today the gatekeeper isn’t a person -- it is a computer. There is simply no affordable way for companies to assign an individual to read through all the resumes they receive and in that way select the first cut that will actually be contacted. Imagine spending fifteen minutes per resume multiplied by one hundred resumes. It isn’t going to happen.
So what do you need to do? What do people returning to the workplace need to do? You need to think like a computer or more exactly like a search engine, which is what the program that “reads” your resume is actually going to do. Does your resume include the terms that the search will be programmed to look for? Crazy as it may sound to a lot of people, the time of having one resume a fit for-all positions is basically over. If you want to make it through the first cut you need to tailor your resume to that particular position.
As a career coach the first thing that clients tell me when I tell them this is that they don’t want to lie. But what they need to do is get comfortable with the language of today’s employment ads and profiles and in a sense “speak” it back to the corporation. For example, job profiles today often note different areas of expertise or technology needed and include the expected level of expertise required. For example, familiarity with PeachTree Accounting, proficient user of Final Cut Pro X or some Spanish helpful. Your resume needs to include a section which includes this information.
It is no longer effective to simply add a section of “tags.” Tags simply do not allow you to include the fact that you only speak Spanish but don’t read and write it, which you could easily clarify in a section labeled Languages and noting proficient English and basic Spanish communication skills. This mechanism solves the problem a lot of my clients have when introducing critical search terms that will make the difference between their resume being selected or not; for a human being to review and potentially at least call for more information.
If you think this doesn’t apply to you as you are a strong networker and you predominantly send your resume to companies via a personal intermediary, you are wrong. The reality is that even if you have a personal friend in the company that hand delivers or personally emails your resume to the decision makers, your friend probably does not have the time or ability to be in the room when the next cut is made. The next thing you find out is that your resume was put aside because at a critical juncture nobody realized that you had basic Spanish skills.
So for the New Year, before applying for any job, review your resume and consider adding additional skills and aptitudes that you have, like languages you speak but don't read and write; computer skills you have dabbled in; programs you are getting comfortable in. Even if they aren’t your strongest skills add them to your resume; they can make the difference between your getting a call or not.