How make your resume stand out?
Why it is so hard to get a response to your resume and what you can do about it!
Is there anything more frustrating or confusing than writing a resume?
You spend hours perfecting every word, agonizing over what to include, and trying to decipher all the conflicting advice you’ve had from friends and family and web articles and so-called ‘experts’ (most of whom don’t seem to agree). But when you’re finally done and you send your resume off for the perfect job, what do you hear back?
No-one writes. And you’re left wondering what’s wrong with you.
The good news is that you’re not the problem.
The problem is the system. And the fact that you don’t yet understand it. You haven’t yet had a peek behind the curtain to understand how hiring decisions are actually made. Once you understand that, everything else will fall into place. You’ll be able to easily write a resume that gets a response. And that’s true no matter what your level, background or industry.
That’s what I plan to do with this free course. Read each email and you’ll soon have a clear picture of exactly why it’s so difficult to get a response to your applications, and exactly what you need to do to catapult your resume into the lead.
The best candidates are not the ones who get hired.
I have been interviewing people for over 25 years. Before becoming a coach, I interviewed hundreds of people – probably thousands – of people. I don’t fool myself that I always found the best candidate. What I found were the candidates with the best resumes.
They didn’t necessarily have the strongest backgrounds. They didn’t always have the perfect experience. But they did know how to present their resumes in order to do two things:
a) pass our automated screening systems
b) appeal directly to the concerns of the hiring manager
Let’s meet a hiring manager and I’ll show you what I mean.
Paul is an investment manager who has been given permission to hire a dedicated social media manager. He desperately wants to make the right decision. After all his team is understaffed and his workload keeps mounting. He’s very excited about getting some much-needed help.
But as he starts to wade through resumes, another possibility occurs to him. What if he makes the wrong choice? It’s happened before. It wouldn’t be the first time that a seemingly wonderful candidate turned out to be under-qualified or lazy. And Paul knows that if he makes a mistake, he’ll just fall even further behind and his life will get harder, not easier. Nor does he relish explaining to his bosses why the new social media manager hasn’t made any impact on sales.
So he’s nervous and he doesn’t see any way to sort out the good candidates from the bad. All the resumes look pretty much alike – bland, repetitive and conformist.
There are a lot of ‘dynamic self-starters’ and ‘highly motivated leaders’ but these are generalities that tell Paul nothing.
The problem is that most resumes do not represent the living, breathing person who wrote them. Instead of expressing skills and individuality and outlining the great things the person has done, they are simply a dull recitation of standard phrases and pat descriptions. This does nothing to help Harry decide who will fit into his company.
And therein lays the answer to getting Paul’s attention and creating a living, breathing resume that screams “Hire Me!”
You need to tell him about yourself in an interesting way. You need to bring yourself alive on the page and make him curious to meet you.In other words, you have to tell Paul a story.
The Power of Stories
Since the beginning of time, humans have enjoyed stories. Stories help us make sense of the world – we listen as the story begins, follow it through to the middle, and then feel satisfaction when we reach the resolution. A good story is both compelling and memorable.
But obviously you can’t just tell any old stories. (The one about last New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas probably won’t do you much good!)
The stories you tell on your resume must show Harry that you have solved problems in the past – and that the problems you have solved are similar to the ones he is facing now. If you do that, why wouldn’t he interview you?
The biggest challenge is knowing what stories to include and what to leave out. You don’t want your resume to read like War and Peace after all.
But both these challenges get much easier when we stop making one simple and all-too-common mistake. That mistake is believing that our resume is all about us.
Wait? What am I saying? Of course your resume should be about you!
Actually, no. Your resume should be all about one person: the hiring manager. Or rather, it should be all about providing the information he or she needs to make their decision.
He needs to find a candidate who can solve his problems (and maximize his opportunities). He will respond immediately to resumes that address his key concerns and offer the promise of making big improvements to his current situation. He won’t even hesitate.
Mary is the perfect candidate so why doesn’t Paul interview her?
Mary is 25 and has been working on social media marketing for the last few years. It’s only part of her job currently (she is executive assistant to the marketing manager) but she’d like to make it full-time. She’s excited when she sees the posting for Paul’s vacancy, because she has all the skills he’s looking for.
She quickly sends off a copy of her resume without edits because she wants to be the first in line for the job.
Then she waits and waits. And waits.
Eventually she tries phoning, but she’s told that HR has already notified all the candidates for interview, and she isn’t among them.
What went wrong?
Mary would have solved all Paul’s problems. She’s smart, hardworking, creative and really good at what she does. She would have whipped his social media marketing processes into shape within 2 months, and sales would have grown as a direct result.
The problem is that her resume didn’t show Paul any of that. It didn’t tell him a powerful story that addressed his needs. When he reviewed it, he saw an executive assistant NOT a go-getting social media manager.
It told a chronological story of Mary’s career to date, including the parts of her current job that don’t relate to social media or marketing. In fact, as he only had time to skim the resumes to sort them into ‘yes’ and ‘no’ piles, he didn’t even notice that she has responsibility for social media in her current job.
The morale of this story is that, when it comes to resume writing, the most important person is not you. It’s the hiring manager.
Put Yourself in the Hiring Manager’s Shoes
You know that you want to tell a story with your resume. But which one? There are many different stories you could tell about your career and you don’t have room to tell them all on a resume.
The answer is that you must tell the story that most resonates with the hiring manager. And that will be the one that directly addresses his needs, his concerns, his work problems, his crises.
This means you need to forget about you for a little while, and focus on the needs of your target hiring managers. To do this, picture the hiring manager at your ideal company. Give him a name. Imagine his office. Now think about his situation…
What are his fears, concerns, hopes, wishes?
What kind of candidate would be the ideal fit for him?
What experience will be important?
What skills matter most?
What character traits will he value?
Understand the answers to these questions and you’ll naturally write a resume that appeals to hiring managers at the types of companies you want to work for.
The question of what to include and what to omit becomes much easier to answer – just keep his needs and concerns in mind -. And you won’t need to worry about writing hype-y phrases like ‘self-motivated self-starter’ because you’ll simply focus on telling the hiring manager the things he needs to know – no need for a lot of self-promotion.
Here is the first step
To prepare for what you’re going to learn, I need you to take stock of where you are now. Imagine yourself in Paul’s shoes and take a long hard look at your resume.
Go through the document with a highlighter pen and mark any place where you use a common resume phrase like ‘accomplished manager’ or highly motivated self-starter.’ This pinpoints problem areas right upfront.
Then ask yourself these questions:
Is it designed to appeal to Paul, to address his concerns, to make him excited about talking to you?
Does it look and sound different to other resumes you’ve seen?
If you were in Paul’s shoes, would you be itching to set up an interview having read the resume?
If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no,’ don’t worry. Just make notes about the weaknesses for now. Also be sure to note anything that you think does work well. This might be a particular phrase, or the way you’ve communicated your skill set, or a particularly powerful accomplishment you described.
But what about the automated systems? How do I beat the Robots?
I want to show you how you can both impress Paul and beat the automated systems that have been screening you out even when you have all the right qualifications.
This won’t be the usual resume advice about choosing power words and beginning with an objective – this will be high octane stuff that once you understand and apply it, will allow you to take your career to the next level.
If you’ve ever applied for a job online, you’ve probably come across those automated resume screening systems where you have to enter all your details into a web form and perhaps answer some job-related questions.
Or you may know that when you send a resume by email, it is often stored in a computer system and then retrieved using a keyword search.
But you might not understand exactly how these systems work.
How resume screening systems work
There are many different systems but they all work on some basic principles. The first and most important to understand is keyword searches.
When you upload your resume to a system, or when a recruiter uploads the resume you sent by email, it is scanned for keywords relating to the open position.
These keywords are programmed in by the recruiter or HR rep. So for example, Harry may tell the system to look for resumes that contain the words social media, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, content marketing, and blog.
If you resume contains these keywords, it passes to the next stage.
In some cases, this means it arrives in the recruiter’s inbox for review. In other cases, the system also used pre-programmed questions to further filter the resumes. So you may be asked to answer questions such as ‘how many years of social media marketing experience do you have?
You can see why these systems are so imperfect.
As the recruiter or hiring manager, I want to find the very best person for the job. But perhaps the very best person forgot to include the words ‘content marketing’ on her resume. Despite the fact that she actually has the required experience, she won’t make it past my filter and I therefore lose out.
But despite their imperfections, resume screening systems are here to stay. HR departments aren’t likely to get bigger any time soon, and the demands on their time will only grow.
So what can you do?
There’s a surprisingly easy answer
In most cases, the employer is telling you everything you need to know in order to beat the system. It’s right there in the job description.
Take the job posting, highlight all the skills and qualifications as well as the important job responsibilities, and then use those words as my keywords.
Each one would be weighted differently depending on importance, and some were optional rather than mandatory, but all could be found right there in the job description.
That means the secret to beating these systems is to simply learn as much as you can about the job opportunity, and then check your resume to make sure you’ve included as many of the keywords as possible. If you’re missing some, look for places to insert them.
NOTE: It doesn’t matter which order you place them in, or where they appear on the resume, as long as they are there.
Adapt your resume each time you apply and you will beat the automated systems and instantly increase the number of interviews you get.
Platinum Method Coaching.com