By Karen Gore, Co-Founder and Co-Owner Virtual Business Associates and Virtual HR Associates
In this continuing series of articles, we strive to provide the reader with simple and easy ways to follow steps in finding a job. If you are easily offended by the truth, step away from the monitor now…. I don’t pull any punches in my articles …this is about getting you a job.
Over the last 23 years of recruiting and hiring thousands of people which required reading their resumes, there are some basics in finding a job that remain a constant. I would like to share some of these with you in this article. You are receiving for free, what I normally charge good money for….enjoy.
The resume is your calling card, marketing and sales tool. It’s what makes someone want to ask you in for an interview.
What does it say about you and what you have achieved?
The resume is most important when starting your job search. Have five people read it before you EVER send it out. Ask them to read it for understanding, grammar, spelling and flow. Remember this is your marketing tool, what does it say about YOU? So many times I have read resumes from very talented people that tell me nothing about them, only what their job duties were.
Would you be interested in test driving or buying a new car based on an advertisement that said “this car has an engine and four tires”? NO! Why not? You would buy it because all cars have an engine and four tires! An advertisement that states this car “has all the features you need and want at a great price, including superior gas mileage, cool sun roof”, etc., those things you might want in a car, would make you want to check it out…right? The same is true for a winning resume….what are your “special” features, skills, knowledge, or talents that set you apart from the dozens, if not, hundreds of resumes received.
Have the five people looking at your resume, ask themselves this question and have them answer truthfully, based on JUST the RESUME: Would they call you in for an interview? If yes, as them what in the RESUME trigger this reaction? If no, ask them what in the RESUME triggered this reaction? Don’t take it personal if the answer is no, see it as a learning experience and start over on the resume.
When I am working with a client on building their resume, there is a series of questions I ask, one of them is: “What did you do in this position that makes you stand out from others in this position”. This will take some hard analysis on your part, go back to what you did or are doing in your job. No, not the job description stuff you read when you were hired or applied for the job. What we are looking for here are the achievements and contributions you are making to the company or organization that are NOT in the job description.
Think about it in this light, if all you have to offer me as an employer, are the very same abilities that every other person who has had the same/similar job, why should I hire you over someone else? By answering this question with point by point contributions to your employer, you have earned my interest in you as a candidate. As examples of what makes for good achievements:
Sale person – Increased overall sales revenue by XX% year over year. Or successfully landed a renewal contract with a previously dissatisfied customer by providing outstanding customer service.
Technology person – successfully produced code that passed QA without bugs, on time and under budget. OR critical to the development of the XYZ product launched successfully on time and under budget.
Executive Assistant – responsible for reducing the cost of business meetings and travel by 30% through development of vendor relationships, research of services and creative problem solving. OR successfully managed a $500K project full cycle that allowed for increased productivity of senior managers and support staff.
I know what you are going to say, “I did not have the opportunity to do these types of things”. Really? Let’s examine the sales person’s bullet statements first. The job of any sales person is to sell. Most sales jobs come with sales quotas, meet them or you lose your job. So, if you are doing a good job and have met or beat your quota, why are you not bragging about it? Keeping customers happy and getting them to renew contracts or come back to the store and buy more is part of the job. Mostly likely you do this on a daily basis….so tell me about it.
The craziest thing on resumes from people looking for a sales job is NO NUMBERS. How can a reader know if you are any good, if there are not sales numbers? Tell me about your achieving and exceeding your annual sales quotas. It is so easy to do, 2008 achieved 103% of quota, 2009 achieved 100% of quota, 2010 and so on. If you missed your quota one year, but met it every other year, so be it, the other numbers of meeting or surpassing in other years tell me you can do the job.
For many people, especially women, bragging is hard. We have been taught most of our lives that is not polite or good manners to do so. Well that does not apply in the job market. Other cultures competing for YOUR job have been trained from birth that bragging is a must to achieve success. Now don’t confuse lying with hooting your own horn or bragging, on a resume. Lying is never a good idea. Pointing out your skills, talents and knowledge is a GREAT idea.