Thursday, June 4, 2009

More Is Better

I'm in the recruiting business. I spend this day, as I do most days, sifting and reading (well, skimming) dozens and dozens of resumes. And, now with the economic downturn the inflow of resumes has gone from a flood to a tsunami. I simply receive too many resumes each day for a given position than I or my colleagues have time to read. So what do we do to cope? We cheat and we cut corners. We do this not because we don't care about the individual hopes and aspirations represented in each resume application for a job, but to survive. And, in the process we know we will miss some shining stars.

Every resume is the same. Oh, applicants try to stand out with formatting, fonts, and white space. But the truth is when you read resumes for a living they're all the same - a lot of black text crammed on white paper, usually read on a computer screen. So, we cheat and take short cuts to get through the deluge. We pick two or three keywords from a hiring manager's requirements that we think matter the most and we look for those keywords on a resume. In fact, surveys show that Human Resource and recruiting professionals typically spend less than 20 seconds per resume. Kind of discouraging if you're the author of your life's work and you've spent so much time choosing your action verbs and showing the "value you provide." You look at your resume as an autobiography of your life's achievements and you're proud. You read your resume and say "Wow, I sound pretty good. I didn't know I had achieved so much." And then a hiring manager or recruiter like me cheats and skimps, spending less than 20 seconds reading your prolific prose.

So, how do you stand out? You stand out by providing more information about yourself, not less. There are three things you need to get noticed:

  1. A great cover letter. Target it specifically to the job requirements. Bullet out the three or four key requirements and write two or three lines about how you have those skills and how you've used them. If you have employment gaps, several short employment stints, career changes, etc. explain them.
  2. A resume. Think of your resume as an application form. Make absolutely sure your resume backs up how you have the skills in the job requirements. Use a yellow highlight to highlight the matching skills - just like a recruiter or HR manager will do.
  3. A Web professional Profile. Provide a link to your Profile in your cover letter and resume. Your Profile should contain more detailed information about you and must include a Portfolio with artifacts of your work. It should contain nothing that is not professional and every single item in it should be there for a reason - to provide the recruiter with information that intrigues them and makes them want to talk to you.
This discussion is presented in collaboration with Rob Main, co-founder of Apojigo ( Apojigo is your own personalized Web space for presenting your professional Profile and Portfolio.

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