Getting your resume in front of a hiring manager has become a very difficult task. Automated application systems have forced job candidates to get more creative in how they pursue their job searches. Everyone utilizes different strategies and tactics in pursuing a job search. There is no single, “One-Size-Fits-All” model or formula that you can plug into and automatically generate a job. However, there are some key pieces of information that are applicable to everyone and will help you avoid having your resume sit in an application database for months on end with no response.
Tailor your resume.
Your resume has to interest the hiring manager that is reading it. Think about your target audience and do your homework on the company and the hiring manager. What are their core values? Have they been in the news lately? Can you identify any issues or topics that might be their main focus at the present time? Align your application materials in order to address the primary focus of the company and the hiring manager.
With the prevalent use of automated application systems, it is now more important than ever to strategically utilize keywords. Your resume needs to mimic the job description without copying and pasting the exact verbiage, as it is written in the job description. It is also good practice to stay current on industry jargon to ensure that you are utilizing appropriate keywords.
Some people have started getting very creative about how they are incorporating keywords into their resumes. One controversial tactic has been the use of “White Font” to canvas keywords in the margins. The idea is that you fill the margins with white font keywords that cannot be seen, but will be picked up by any resume scanning software. One of the problems with this is that some programs strip all formatting, including font color. How silly would you feel if your sly tactic were revealed by the employer instantaneously, upon receiving your resume? A skilled resume writer should be able to include those keywords in a manner that is visible to the hiring manager, and strategically match their skills to the written job description in a way that is not deceptive to the employer. Most hiring managers or recruiters will spend less than 30 seconds on the initial review of your resume. They are the ones that have defined the keywords for the automated system to use in the first place, so if they cannot see those within the first few seconds of reading, they will move on to the next resume.
Recruiters sift through hundreds, sometimes thousands, of resumes for each requisition that they have to fill. So, it is very important that you grab their attention and get to the point. If they land on a resume that is filled with “fluff”, then they will quickly set it aside in the “No” pile and move on. There are some terms that have been overly used and have become very cliché in regards to resume writing (ie. Team Player, Motivated, Strong Work Ethic, etc.). Actions speak louder than words, so don’t TELL the employer that you have these traits, SHOW them. Hone in on your specific accomplishments that demonstrate what you have to offer the employer. Your performance is far more important that your responsibilities and duties that you were assigned. Quantitative data is great proof of your performance
Networking does wonders.
Finally, there is no substitute for networking. One of the best ways to get your resume in front of the hiring manager is to apply online, but then also have it placed in front of the hiring manager directly by a mutual friend, family member, or current (respected) employee of the organization. The risk for the employer in hiring you is minimized if you come highly recommended by someone that the employer already knows, respects and trusts.
Review job descriptions for positions in areas that you are interested in and start tailoring your resume and LinkedIn profile (if you have one) to incorporate the important buzzwords of the industry. Modify your materials to focus on your accomplishments rather than your duties.
What tactics have you found success with in your job search, and what hasn’t worked so well for you? Have you been able to get your resume in front of the hiring manager and obtain and interview, or is it getting stuck in the database with no response?