Ready to embark on a new career? Looking for greener pastures? Ready to fire your boss? Job searching is a contact sport. You are competing against similarly-qualified applicants in a labor market that currently favors the employer side. In other words, there are more qualified applicants than jobs available. For this reason, putting your best foot forward and standing out –for the right reasons– is critical. So how can you make an impression over other candidates? Here’s what you can do to maximize the odds of landing your next gig.
Follow the Process: Hiring managers have a process designed to reduce the amount of time spent searching through candidates. They may want you to go to their website and apply directly to a position and upload your resume in Word or PDF format. They may ask for a hard copy of your resume. They may want to pre-qualify you over the phone. They may ask you to come in for an interview. Whatever their process is, follow it. This shows you value their time, makes it easier for the recruiter to determine if you are a fit for the position and places you ahead of candidates who do not follow directions.
Sweat the Small Stuff: Details matter. Make sure you resume contains no typos, no odd or controversial reply-to email address, or irrelevant information not germane to the position. Recruiters are looking for a fit. Provide information that fits the position you are applying for. Make it easy for the recruiter to reach you by providing the email and phone number where you can actually be reached.
Be Relevant: Apply to positions that require experience with relevant experience clearly listed on your resume. While perfectly-matching experience is great, relevant experience does not have to mean the same job or even a similar job, but rather experience in which the same skill set is used. Customize your resume to highlight how your experience qualifies you for the position you seek. Be thoughtful in your approach. Avoid clichés.
Be Honest: Resume fibbing is unfortunately very common. Embellished qualifications are usually discovered one of two ways. The first is through a background and reference check, which can lead to a disqualification from employment consideration. The second, which can be more painful for all involved, is when falsehoods are discovered through the deleterious effects of poor job performance. Honesty is always the best policy.
Cultivate your Professional Online Persona: Your LinkedIn profile matters! More and more, recruiters are using digital methods to find and qualify potential candidates. According to LinkedIn, thirty-five percent of people aged 18-34 make an initial first impression based on someone’s online profile picture, compared to just 13 percent of those over 35. Profile photos should be sharp, well lit and reflect a professional appearance. This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people use casual, blurry, or pictures more suited for Facebook, or worse, no photo at all! According to LinkedIn, your profile is 14 times more likely to be viewed with a photo than without one.
Embrace Change: Trends indicate the emergence of web-based video resumes. Before this trend goes mainstream, a quick video clip can set you apart from the crowd and provide recruiters an idea of how well you present yourself. Think about posting a video of introduction, a little about yourself, what you are looking for in terms of employment and a call to action at the end.
Gregg Hassler is the owner of Work Personnel Services – firstname.lastname@example.org, 951.297.3591 ext. 101.