Just the Facts, Please!

There will always be diverse jobs with diverse requirements being offered to a workforce with diverse skill sets and diverse needs. Peter Drucker said the only good economy is one that’s good for everybody. That might be the holy grail for our economic society, but for some applicants, it’s not easily if ever attained. Even though the economy is better than it’s been in the last 50 years, and unemployment is at an all-time low of 3.6%, there are many people that will spend many hours looking for a new job. They’ll read countless job descriptions, and eventually, the endless lists of preferred qualifications and responsibilities will start to look the same. Additionally, there will be many of these applicants that will turn to professional services with the sole offering of helping people find a job. Their proliferating on-line (where the application process for most jobs is moving feverishly), and leading the way are companies like Indeed and Zip Recruiter. Currently, there are over 250 applications for the average corporate position. A lot is asked of job candidates during the application process. Just to get an interview, applicants need to submit a resume that caters to the open listing, personalize a cover letter, and provide references and submit it all to an on-line process that provides no personal interaction at all. Additionally, most of these applications are never given the same kind of attention to detail that’s asked of the applicant. Considering that most of those applicants must pass through HR first, the chances of the few talented candidates getting a face-to-face with the key person needing the job filled are slim to none. More importantly, formulaic job descriptions can cause applicants to miss out on opportunities that are a perfect match for their skill set. There is a severe case of application fatigue in the potential candidate pool, where applicants are simply worn out from all those hours invested in trying to find a job. Conversion rates on career sites are down. With those who visit a company’s site, fewer than 9% apply for an open position. Job descriptions just aren’t getting candidates excited about the opportunities that are available out there. In a competitive job market, making your resume stand out is more important than ever. In the interest of keeping resumes simple, relevant and compelling, here are 5 resume principles that will make the difference in a job search. 1. Keep Your Cover Letter Brief: I see many full-page (sometimes 2-page) cover letters that will never get a second look. Keep it to no more than two short paragraphs with a balance between introducing yourself without using too much passion-filled language, and don’t repeat information already provided in the resume. For example, do some homework and review the website of the company you’re submitting the resume to. If they use words like innovative, creative, etc., repeat those in your cover letter as a way of describing the kind of position and company you’re looking for. In short, focus on the potential employer and not on yourself. There are many opinions about photos, but including a simple, professional photo with a simple border in the top, left corner of the cover letter is a nice touch. 2. Stay Out of the Weeds: I reformat applications on a weekly basis and it still surprises me, when I see 2-3-page applications. You can count on that resume not being given a second look, much less a first. HR managers don’t have time and neither does the key person a potential candidate would be reporting to. When you try to provide every single detail of your work history (especially over a number of years), you leave the interviewer nothing to be curious about. 3. Summarize & Categorize Your Content: I see applications regularly that still repeat the same responsibilities for the same job positions they’ve had under multiple employers. This makes for a multiple-page resume that will never be read. Just list the employers under EXPERIENCE and then summarize the most important responsibilities that you feel are relevant to the position you’re applying for under RESPONSIBILITIES. 4. Don’t Be Too Proud of Yourself: Most resumes I review are full of how many accomplishments they’ve had in terms of productivity, how many awards they’ve received in terms of recognition, and how talented they are in terms of work ethic, problem-solving, project management, communication, inter-personal relations and I can go on and on. None of the people you’re submitting your resume to (especially on-line) know you and aren’t going to take your word for it. Too much of this selling of one-self won’t get an interview. 5. Format & Grammatical Presentation are Critical: I see resumes consistently that are full of bright graphics, highlights, bolds, underlines, etc. Often, when I see this kind of resume, it’s also full of misaligned bullet points, spelling errors, inconsistent grammatical sequences in the content, etc., because of all of these inserted bells and whistles. In today’s thirst by employers for attention to detail, a resume full of these kinds of grammatical inconsistencies will be tossed aside out of hand. A simple border around the cover page and the resume implies professional simplicity. Ensuring not one single misspelled word implies attention to detail. Format in order such as PROFILE, SKILL SET, EXPERIENCE, RESPONSIBILITIES, EDUCATION, COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT & REFERENCES PROVIDED UPON REQUEST implies organizational ability. This kind of format gets the necessary attention. When creating your resume, don’t submit to the natural instinct to provide as much information as you possibly can. It really doesn’t help if you know that your resume is one of 250 or more being reviewed. Tap into a human being’s most prevalent character trait, which is curiosity. Provide a professional and focused resume that will get the necessary attention and scrutiny. Truth Be Told, the best approach to just about anything is to be simple, relevant and compelling. As Sargent Joe Friday always said Just the Facts, Ma’am! Excerpts taken from https://vervoe.com/blog/how-to-make-your-job-descriptions-stand-out/

Published by The Leadership Consortium

Maxie Carpenter was formerly Vice President of HR & Talent Development for Wal-Mart Stores. After a 27-year career, he began to pursue a number of other interests, which included alternative education, nonprofits, consulting, writing and public speaking.

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