Way too often, we still see candidates for jobs submitting resumes that go on and on and on and . . . . . . 6 or 7 pages is not uncommon.
These lengthy resumes as often as not also contain big blocks of paragraphs, filled with technical jargon and acronyms, in 8 or 9 point type, that are daunting to get through.
The problem . . . .Even for the most skilled readers of resumes -- recruiters and staffing specialists -- these lengthy resumes are hard to read and even harder to figure out if the candidate is a possible fit for a position.
The problem for candidates is that these rambling, hard-to-read, unfocused, and irrelevant resumes rarely get read. The candidate is out of the running before they even began to compete.
The cause of the problem
Why do job seekers still produce these lengthy resumes that don’t get read? Derived from talking with hundreds of job seekers, the answer to this question seems attributable to 2 factors: (1) Misunderstanding on the job seeker’s part of how hiring happens, and (2) Lack of knowledge about what makes a resume effective.
(1) Misunderstanding of hiring: They’re looking for you. Actually they’re not.
Job seekers labor under the misunderstanding that the company is looking for them, If they just put down everything they’ve ever done, a recruiter or manager will wade through and discover a sought-after skill or ability, and exclaim: “This is just the person we’ve been looking for!”
In reality, few of these dissertations ever get read in their entirety. Recruiters and managers just don’t have the time to plow through pages of paragraphs. Such documents can even be seen as unresponsive to needs and requirements cited by the employer. After a few seconds, the recruiter or manager put the document aside to be read at a later time - the problem for the job seeker is that later rarely comes.
(2) What makes a resume effective?
A resume is effective if it is relevant to the job applied for, focused on the job’s requirements, and shows instances of the job seeker utilizing the required skills and knowledge with results, i.e., Accomplishment Statements. A resume should tell the reader if the job seeker is a possible fit without too much work on the reader’s part. If it gains enough attention from the recruiter or hiring manager to get them to want to learn more about you, and results in an e-mail or call, it’s done its job.
There’s a better way. Learn to think differently about you and your resume. Here’s how to produce a resume that sells you:
Step 1: Realize that when you are on the job market, YOU are in sales. You are selling your abilities as possible solutions to employers’ problems and needs.
How do you sell YOU? By
(A. ) Identifying what makes you desirable, and therefore employable, as a potential candidate, and
(B.) Enlisting the aid of your sales tools. For the job seeker, a core sales tool (although not their only sales tool) is their resume.
Step 2: Think of YOUR RESUME as a sales tool -- your Sales Brochure. Just as salespeople use their product sales brochures to assist their sales by highlighting the benefits their products provide, use your resume to accomplish the same thing. Think of it as your sales brochure! It won’t get you the job, but it can open the door to opportunity.
Think about a salesperson of a familiar product such as a vacuum cleaner. The vacuum cleaner salesperson is going to talk to the customer (1) about the customer’s needs, (2) the tasks the vacuum cleaner can perform (features) that satisfies these needs, and (3) how it can make the customer’s life easier (benefits).
Job seekers should focus on the same things! Learn to think, talk, and write about your work experience in a way that focuses on:
(1) The needs and requirements of your customer - the prospective employer,
(2) Tasks or duties you perform that satisfy the employer's needs and requirements, and
(3) How your performance of these duties made the life of previous employers easier, i.e, better and/or less problematic.
Step 3: Now, capture this information on your resume.
(1) Put down on paper the skills, strengths, abilities, knowledge, education, and expertise you possess that relate to and satisfy the needs/requirements of your potential customer – the employer.
(2) List tasks or duties you have performed that illustrate your experience in
Satisfying these requirements. (These become bullet points under each job title.)
(3) Show results. (Also in your bullet points)
Voilà! You have a resumes that sells You. In fact, your resume has become your “sales brochure.” Your sales-oriented resume shows that you meet the needs and requirements that are stated by a potential employer, provides evidence of you doing so in previous jobs, and sells them on the possibility that you may be a candidate worth talking to. Its job is help you sell YOU and it does.
Benefits of a sales approach
There are several benefits to learning to think like a salesperson and taking a sales-oriented approach when producing your resume.
1. Takes the sting out of rejection
“Thanks but no thanks!” Job seekers talk about dreading the rejection that comes with being passed over, coming in second, or not getting considered at all. A sales-approach can mitigate the sting of rejection by taking the “personal” out of it when you begin to look at yourself as a product that simply did not meet the current needs of this particular customer. It’s a rejection of the product you are selling – not a personal rejection of you as a person.
2. Get real
Taking the myth and misunderstanding out of how hiring happens helps you get real or realistic; forewarned is forearmed. A sales-oriented approach keeps you focused on submitting resumes that are grounded in reality, showing the potential employer that you have what they need. They’re not looking for and are not willing to plow through pages upon pages to find you. But if you make it easy for them to find you, they just may.
3. Focused resumes get read
Recruiters today say that initial scans of resumes last seconds - 30 seconds or less, and some admit to 7-second-scans of resume. A sales-oriented resume uses the top half of the front page to feature relevant information, enticing the reader to read on and learn more about you.
4. Prepares you to interview relevantly
Resumes don’t get you jobs, but they can assist you in gaining enough attention to get an interview. A sales-oriented resume provides the interviewer with items to ask you about and even some direction for the flow of the interview. You are already prepared to provide relevant and succinct answers to their questions by having prepared a focused, sales-oriented resume.
5. Ups the odds that you will be contacted
The Big Benefit is that producing a focused and relevant resume - your sales brochure - increases the possibility that you will be contacted by the future employer.
Sell employers on the idea that you have what they want
So sell employers on the idea that you have what they want, and are worth learning more about in an initial phone screen and subsequent interview. Build your resume – your sales brochure – around ways you have used your abilities to help your previous employers. Showing what you have done, and citing evidence of your accomplishments to back up your claim, sells employers on the idea that you may be a candidate worth talking to.
For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tabs of the AJC–Career Strategy website.
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