Last month we had posted an excerpt of an informative article Ilona Vanderwoude wrote for our Workchic panel discussion here. We thought the article could relate to so many of our readers we had to share it. Enjoy!
How To Make Your Resume Stand Out In Today’s Competitive Job Market
With the holidays behind us, you may feel extra motivated to dust off your resume and get it in the hands of hiring managers and recruiters.
But how do you do this? How do you stand out in a sea of competition – often equally qualified?
The answer is two-fold:
– By knowing the 3 must-haves to include in your resume
– By using the right job search strategies
Why am I mentioning your job search strategies here?
Because if you use very ineffective job search methods, it doesn’t matter how wonderful your resume is. It simply won’t get noticed.
And because these days, your resume may not have the honor of delivering a company their first impression of you. It may be your online profile(s) doing this.
The good news is, you get to be in the driver’s seat by going after the hidden job market. You definitely don’t want to passively apply to positions you see posted online. This has an average 2% “success” rate. If you’re not sure how to go after the hidden job market, just visit http://Careerbranches.com to download your free report about this.
So you need to know how to craft your resume, but you also need to know how to market it.
Today, with the proliferation of social networking, the job search has undergone some drastic “nip and tuck.”
Social networking is playing an ever-increasing role in the job search.
To be truly successful in today’s competitive job market, you need to use a combination of offline and online networking. The emphasis should be on positioning yourself as an expert in your field vs. asking your network for a job. Social networking is perfect for this!
You do this by commenting on other people’s blogs that are relevant to your field, by having your own blog and web site – yes, a web site! – and by answering questions online, engaging in groups discussions, and posting articles about your expertise.
You also want to identify hiring managers – not HR! – at the companies you’re interested in so you can approach and target them with your messages.
After a while, you’ll be seen as an expert and a resource. Next, and people will approach you and refer you without you having to ask because you’ve created relationships within your network and provided value to others.
It’s crucial to avoid the mistake of asking people in your network for a job. It’s needy and most people don’t have jobs to hand out. This means: end of conversation. It’s perfectly fine to ask for leads for informational interviews though.
With these strategies, you can work the hidden job market more easily as well.
But beware…when profiling yourself online, you need to know your own brand. Otherwise, you won’t stand out.
This leads me to the resume itself.
First of all; there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to resumes as much of the strategy depends on the person and the situation. But we do know there are certain things that always work.
Start by putting yourself in the shoes of a hiring person or recruiter. They see resumes all day long. Therefore, they simply won’t sit there and read your 5-page essay-style resume. Nor will they try to piece things together and figure out how your interesting and diverse background might fit with their organization. You need to make this clear to them.
Typically, they’ll spend about 10 seconds to see what jumps out at them – specifically: who you are, what you do, where your expertise lies, and what you can do for them. In other words: what solution do you bring to their problem?
So here are my 3 must-haves that will help your resume get noticed among your competition:
1 – Your resume needs to be branded.
What do we mean by that?
A personal brand is a differentiated promise of value. It’s about what’s unique about you which has a bottom-line impact for an organization.
When your resume is branded, it clarifies why YOU should be hired over anyone else with the same background, with the same type of responsibilities, and even similar achievements.
Often, it’s about HOW you get results. Employers want to know how you do something differently.
A personal brand is organic and authentic. It’s really about who you are and your core skill set, and then distilled into the one, overriding factor that would make you irresistible to employers. It is also something that you would absolutely love doing.
The challenge is in identifying and leveraging it so people see it even more clearly.
How you can do this: It is not always easy to figure out your personal brand by yourself as you’re too close to the source.
You can get started by asking yourself – and those around you – what it is you consistently do really well, that you love doing, and that is of value to the kind of employer you want to work for.
It could be several things. It could be work-task related, or it could be more of a personality thing. Or both.
Once you find your brand, you want to turn into a branding statement of 1-2 sentences max. This goes in the top third of your resume.
And remember this: Companies will interview you for the money or the bottom-line part of your brand. But they will hire you for the chemistry part. However, without the money part, you don’t get
through the door in the first place.
2 – Your resume needs to be focused.
Trying to keep your options open on your resume almost always backfires.
Again, remember hiring folks take mere seconds to scan your resume.
However, don’t use the hopelessly outdated “objective” as your resume should focus on what you can do for the employer vs. what you want from them.
Objectives typically read something like this: “Challenging position where I can use my skills and experience and have room for growth.”
These are meaningless statements and could apply to anyone from a janitor to a CFO.
So we want to create a clear focus to make it instantly clear who you are and what you do.
How you can do this: If you’re staying in the same field, simply bold your title (or variation thereof) at the top of your resume. “Global Marketing Specialist,” “Senior Finance Director,” “Executive Assistant,” “Health Care Administrator.”
Or: Global Marketing Specialist with 15 years’ experience in consumer industries.
If you want to pursue different types of positions in different industries, make sure to tweak your resume so you have multiple versions.
Just remember that an unfocused resume is an ineffective resume. It may feel counter-intuitive to you if you’re not sure what you want to do or if you want to keep your options open, but focusing your resume is vital.
3 – Show proof of your statements.
In other words: back up your brand and brand statement with specifics.
How you can do this: In your resume’s top section, create a summary of a few lines max – don’t go overboard – and weave in either quantifiable achievements or mention one or two representative successes that show some context (where you did this and with whom).
This part is often called the summary, or profile. It doesn’t matter what you call it, and you certainly don’t need to label it on your resume. People will get what it’s about.
Stay away from flowery fluff such as “goal-oriented people person with track record of building relationships …” This is too vague and makes it look like everyone else’s resume. These statements used to work, but they don’t anymore.
Next, make sure to quantify your achievements throughout your resume when describing your achievements. Provide some context for them by comparing your accomplishments to industry or company averages, or to those of your peers or your predecessor.
This way, your resume does not read like a job description. Instead, it will give readers a very clear picture of what unique things you have done and what sets you apart from John Doe with a similar background.
As a parting thought: Always make sure that everything on your resume is there for a reason and is relevant to your target. Your resume need not be all-inclusive. Anything that’s not relevant distracts from your core message.
There you have it! With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to creating a resume – and a job search strategy – that will get you noticed in any economy, no matter how crowded the market place!
© Copyright 2010 – CareerBranches, Ilona Vanderwoude
Ilona (“rhymes with Fiona”) Vanderwoude is a nationally published resume expert and New York City’s only Master Resume Writer (1 of only 28 worldwide). Her specialty is working with multi-talented professionals who simply can’t pick one passion or career.
As a Career Designer, she guides her clients in crafting unusual life and career plans, helps them fit a million passions into one lifetime, and provides the tactical support to actually make it happen.
Please visit www.CareerBranches.com to claim your 3 free gifts, read her blog at www.blog.CareerBranches.com and follow her on twitter @CareerBranches and www.FaceBook.com/Ilona.Vanderwoude to keep up with the latest discussions and developments.