It is hard to believe that after 4 years of experiencing turmoil in the economy, people are still struggling to find jobs and enter the job market. This is a struggle that I am way too familiar with. Being laid off two times in one year, struggling to keep a roof over my daughter’s head, and food on the table, was a frightful experience for someone who thought her career was on the rise. In some sense I was a career snob, my title defined me and I enjoyed my line of work. Once reality hit and I found myself without a job, the struggle became extremely painful. I remember waiting for January to hit so that everyone’s budgets would come in which normally means a plethora of jobs. When that didn’t happen, I hit the pavement and started frantically looking for anything to be thrown my way. Now, you are probably thinking, why am I sharing this information with you? For those of you who have read my blogs before you are probably thinking, this is nothing new and you have heard this story before. My reasoning for bringing up this topic has everything to do with the fact that even though my storm has passed, this is now a lot of others’ reality. What I want to do is share with you some ideas that can help you get your foot in the door. My goal is to write 2 series, discussing not only how to get your foot in the door but how to actually get the offer letter and start working.
Tip #1- What Do You Want to Do?
You have to figure out what positions are you going to look for. I know you think it is easy but as we go through the tips you will find that it is extremely important to know what you want to do. It will help you not only as you begin your resume writing process but it will also set you apart from the rest when it comes to your interview. Someone just looking for a job will not land a position over the person who knows why they want the job and market themselves as a better investment. Organizations are forced to look at budgets more closely than 5 years ago. Recruiters in Human Resources are constantly being reminded of the impact the revolving door (high turnover where employees voluntarily leave a position) has on the bottom line. If they feel that you are only staying in the position until you find the next best thing, or a job closer to your interests, there is a greater chance you will not get the job. Get out a pencil, think about your career track, and where you want it to take you. Once you have completed this task, you are more than ready to start tip #2.
Tip#2- Build your professional network. Connectivism is a valuable way to learn. Utilizing the nodes within your network can allow you to learn what jobs are available, what are the new trends within your industry, and where you can access continuing learning opportunities to make sure you maintain your competitive edge. Organizations like to know that you stay well connected to trends that will affect the industry you are in and the position in which you work. For example, in my position as an instructional designer, an employer will want to know that I am a member of the American Society of Training and Development, I am connected with others in my field via LinkedIn, I participate in group discussions regarding the latest trends in learning and development, as well as trends regarding agencies that service those with Developmental Disabilities. Why is that important you may ask? I now positioned myself as an individual who can recognize training opportunities to effectively support the organization in upcoming initiatives that result in a response to external forces that influence the way in which the organization will need to run their business in order to remain in existence. Taking a step back, in order for you to get an interview it may take someone within your professional network to recommend you instead of the traditional resume paper mill. Keep in mind the age old adage, “it’s who you know….”
Tip#3 – Dust off that resume!
A wise man once told me (thanks Dan!) the best time to update your resume is once you have started your new job. I couldn’t agree more! The task of updating and revisiting a resume can be daunting. In the past month I have had 3 people send me resumes to give them a glance. As I analyzed each one I realized that some of the great tips that were given to me in the past are not common knowledge for everyone. So this tip will be it’s own sub section. Here are my tips to updating your resume, getting passed the applicant tracking system in HR, and into the hands of a hiring manager:
1. Get rid of the summary- Summaries, objectives, whatever you call it, recruiters don’t read it! It’s fluff! Think about it what does your objectives section say that most don’t, that you have great communication skills? Oh no, I know it says you have great communication and time management skills. Wait, this is what makes you unique; you want to work for a fast paced organization that can utilize your skills and talents. Listen, its fluff and for a recruiter who has to read over a hundreds of resumes to fill one position, they are not wasting time reading fluff! The alternativ
e solution is to write your skill sets. An example could be: Mortgage loan officer professional with the following skill sets and experiences in the following: (you can bullet out the skill sets and format appropriately) refinancing, loan recovery,loan origination. Use any keywords that you know the employer will be looking for and that you can prove you have experience in. Looking at your skill sets quickly will go along way with getting your resume into the right hands.
2. Please Use Bullets- When writing your tasks and responsibilities, keep in mind your agenda is to get recruiters to notice you, not to throw your resume away in frustration. I had a conversation with a good friend of mine who is a recruiter for a non profit organization. She stated, “ You don’t even know what it does to my eyes when I have to read through paragraphs and paragraphs of information on hundreds of resumes.” Get noticed and format your resume in bullet form when describing your tasks in previous positions.
3. There’s Power in Numbers- With the unstable economy, the term lay off has become more familiar to millions of people throughout the U.S. As a result, the reality is, employers can’t promise you security and with budget cuts they can’t get you all the proper training resources to be effective in your position. The alternative solution for organizations is to hire people who know how to impact organizations in the least amount of time. So for the person that writes handles calls in a call center environment, show your impact and let the recruiter know how many calls you handled on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Stating that you handle 180 calls a day regarding benefit policies is a lot more of an eye catcher than just stating that you take calls. If you are in sales, talk about the amount of revenue you generated for your department, if you are a teacher talk about the amount of students you impacted or number of projects you participated in. Before anything, integrity is key, so keep in mind that you will need to be truthful in reporting how you have impacted your previous employers.
4. Keep it Relevant- If you are applying for a job in sales, a recruiter doesn’t want to see that you used to fold shirts at your local mall. Keep all information regarding your jobs relevant to the job for which you are applying. Now if you are going for a sales position in retail and folding the shirts at the local mall has given you insight on the retail industry, then be sure to make that connection on your resume.
5. List Your Skills- Each time you apply for a job, you will want to list your skills. Most times I thought this was a given but yet I’m beginning to see more often that candidates are leaving this information off of their resume. If you know MS Office, list it. Well versed in software that is important in your field? Great! List it. Leaving this information off of your resume can negatively impact your job search results.
Now back to our Tips !
Tip# 4 Invest in You- Often we spend so much time looking for a job but yet we aren’t educationally equipped to be considered the best fit for the position. I remember sitting in an interview and being asked why I wasn’t taking the time to go back to school for instructional design. I was floored and couldn’t believe I was asked that question. Didn’t this hiring manager know that I didn’t have time to go back to school! I had to find a job and quick! She was right! Just as I handle a job and school now, I really could have handled looking for a job and school. While you are looking for a job invest in you. Get the certification, license, or degree you need for school. For those of you who are thinking you don’t have the money, hence that is why you are looking for a job, utilize grants and student loans to get you where you need to be. Employers like to know that you are in the business of continuing your education. To many employers an educated employee is a knowledgeable employee, especially the one that has a healthy mix of experience as well as great educational background.
I hope these tips can help you on your journey to finding employment or climbing the ladder. Remember the key is to market yourself the best way you can. Keep in mind that recruiters are looking at 60-100 resumes a day and you have the ability to set yourself apart from the rest. Good Luck and God Bless!!!!