These are thoughts about the job search process expressed by employers I talked with recently. They were rather blunt about a few items, but do not take offense. It may prove useful to know how they feel about the process.
Why Jobs Exist
Jobs exist for one reason only – A company is in business to make money; and they hire people to make more money!
So you have to keep in mind that it’s not personal; the hiring process, that is.
The Job Search Funnel
One of these employers told me he received 200 resumes when he advertised for two open positions. These 200 resumes were reduced to 20 by a quick review of each resume. For him, a quick review averages to a 6-10 second glance! Those 20 people were then interviewed by phone where he asked the same three questions of everyone. By this telephone interview, he reduced the 20 people to 7 finalists who were then interviewed in person. Two positions were then filled by this process.
Beating the Job Search Funnel
To start with, the resume must be outstanding, especially the Summary paragraph. The Summary paragraph may be the only part the reviewer reads to determine which stack the resume goes in. One employer said that if the Summary paragraph does not “grab” him, he does not even look at the employment history. By the way, at this point, an “Objective” statement just wastes my time, so please do not put one on your resume! I really do not care what your objective is; I care wherever you can help us reach our objective – making more money. Remember, it’s not personal!
During the phone interview, you must be an outstanding Phone Salesperson of yourself while sounding genuine. During the in person interview, you must confirm by your statements that you can do the job, that you will do the job, and that you will fit in the company culture.
Building an Outstanding Resume
An overworked HR generalist is looking for reasons to say no – do not give them one. Learn about the company and tailor your resume to the company and the specific job description. Active voice stands apart – led, designed, improved, directed; do not use passive voice, like “I was responsible for …”
Tell me about your last company – how big, what industry. Help me understand the depth of your responsibilities. I may not have taken time to look it up myself, so do not make the assumption I know all about your last (or present) company.
To be perfectly honest, at this point, I do not care about your hobbies, unless you’re an Eagle Scout or it helps you build a personal connection. For example, if you discovered the company CEO is a big supporter of Big Brothers Big Sisters, and you have volunteered there, by all means, let us know.
Quantify yourself; every bullet point on your resume should include a quantifiable fact. How many? How much? How long? What impact? What benefit? Help us understand your accomplishments.
Build a master resume – then cut it down to fit the specific job. You should be able to create at least 3-5 short, concrete, quantifiable bullet points for each role in each job or volunteer activity.
More is better – your “master” resume should be 2-3 pages, or even longer if necessary. Then look at your target company and target job, and cut out everything that does not fit what they want – get it down to 1 page, if possible. But two pages are okay.
Every final resume will be unique – save it on your computer as a unique version so so you know what you told them.
Some Practical Resume Tips
If you can, look at your resume using “Preview” in Outlook – headers do not show up! If your name and contact information is in a header, it disappears if the HR person looks at it in Outlook’s preview mode. Do not use headers and footers on your resume!
A one page resume is best, unless you are applying for academia, or engineering or technical jobs.
I can not say this enough – spell check, spell check, spell check. Let the computer do it once, then you proof your writing once (or twice!), Then let someone else proofread your resume. Remember, we get so many applications that we look for reasons to exclude an applicable; sometimes a misspelled word is all we need to move to the next applicable.
Clear and concise are bywords in a resume; never use four words when one will do. Use a font size that does not challenge the reader; at least 11pt. In addition, this is not the time to be creative – use a traditional format and be consistent with sentence length, grammar, and punctuation. Having said that, you can afford to be creative if the job is in the creative world, like interior designer or graphic designer.
Remember the “objective statements” referred to earlier? They take up a lot of space without telling us anything useful to us . If you want us to know something about you not on your resume, why not use your cover letter for this kind of information?
A telephone interview is usually nothing more than a screening process. Phone screening – welcome to phone sales! They can not see you, so your words have to say it all! Be brief, but provide complete answers. They have an agenda – give them the time they need to satisfy their requirements.
Many companies use professional HR people to do the phone screen. Their job is to cut the list of “possibles” to a short list for the business leaders to interview. They can not say yes, but they can certainly say no! You need to be on your best behavior!
They use a script – the same questions for everyone. So you have to stand out by being personable, having a sense of humor, and by highlighting a few reasons why you’re a perfect fit.
Fit! It’s all about fit! “Would I enjoy being stranded with you in an airport for 5 hours?” It only takes one “no” to finish you, and everyone you meet has a vote. From the receptionist to the CEO; they all have a vote. The receptionist can not hire you, but her “no” vote carries almost as much weight as the CEO.
Many companies use personality profiles to screen for specific attributes for certain jobs; you can not beat them, and you do not want to. Remember, the fit has to be good in both directions.
Show the interviewer that you understand the role and help them see that you have the skills to be successful. Do not leave it up to their imagination! If you are not familiar with it, review the Hines Lumber Yard Story at: http://www.tsilogistics.com/itemsofinterest.htm .
Show them you understand the challenges they face; the questions you ask tell them a lot about you. Be proactive about identifying potential objections and addressing them.
Yes, the resume is important. Yes, the telephone interview is important. Yes, the in-person interview is important. But the most important part of your job search is your preparation!
The more you understand the motivations of the people who will read your resume, talk to you on the phone, and visit with you in-person, the better you can prepare.
Following these guidelines will help you improve your job search skills, the first step to that new position!