There are lots of companies that write resumes for people. Some of them just put you into their format. It looks nicer. But is pretty much like putting lipstick on a pig…it is still a pig.
Then there are those who do a better job with the up front questionnaire. They get people thinking more in terms of accomplishments than just a recitation of job duties and skills and work history (most companies can get that from the application you complete anyway).
And many people think they just need to blast their resume out to hundreds of employers or put their resume on the job boards like Monster.com and sit back, relax, and wait for the interview request to roll in.
And this is further complicated by the shameless sales job that schools and our government have done by saying everyone has a right to go to college and that the college degree is the key to a great, high paying job, and a lifetime of happiness.
Just fill out the college application, get your student loan, and that degree in French Literature is sure to give you a six figure job.
Forget the fact that your degree is lucky to be worth $15 to $20 per hour or a $40k per year entry-level job. And then you have to figure out what to do about the $50k to $250k of student loan debt that your measly paycheck is supposed to start repaying.
So it is no wonder why kids are living at home with their parents into their 20’s and 30’s and their resume and interviews scream “desperation”.
And so they keep submitting resumes and hope.
So what do you do to give yourself a better chance to succeed in your job search?
Well to start let’s look at how the employer views the same search but from the other side of the desk.
There are several situations a hiring manager finds him/herself in and these lead to different approaches to bringing someone new on board.
Fired the prior employee
So in this instance the manager had bad luck with the employee. Maybe they couldn’t manage to make it to work on time or had “personal issues” that always seemed to make their job take a back seat. And the manager got frustrated because they were being held accountable for results and their team was not delivering due to this person’s lack of accountability.
So the manager is going to be cautious in the next hire. And at the same time they need to get someone in quickly. They can’t dawdle around and wait for the perfect person to come along. The clock is ticking and they need someone quickly.
Business is picking back up after a round of layoffs
Here they have already cleaned house and have gotten rid of the under-performers. They now have growing sales and need staff to support the work. This is good news because they are likely still in a hurry to hire. But they also are more picky in choosing the right hire.
Exhausted their go-to hire list
Every hiring manager has a couple people they know and would love to hire. Sometimes these people don’t work out because either they’re in a job they like and aren’t ready to move, or they want more money than the company’s salary structure and margins will support. Or the commute is too far. Or any number of other issues mean they won’t be a fit right now.
This is typically where recruiters get called to make a placement – particularly if it is a position without a lot of ready candidates that can be had through local advertising.
Big project requires a lot of new hires
Some companies have to hire a lot of people in a short period of time. This is typically where they either use a recruiting company or temp staffing company to fill a lot of positions. Or their human resources team tackles it with a media blitz to bring in hundreds of fresh candidates.
Often with higher “C-level” positions companies will hire an executive recruiter to support their search for just the right person. This is because good people at this level are already working and/or it requires an extensive search to find someone who has the skills, the temperment, and fits in with the management team.
So you see that there are a lot of types of situations employers are in that lead them to the hiring process.
Photo credit: Photo Credit: Emergency Dentists USA
So what goes through their heads?
First they don’t want to mess up and hire someone who can’t perform the job duties well. Second they don’t want to overpay. Third they don’t want to hire someone who adds drama to their team.
You notice that there are a lot of things they don’t want to do. And that is important to know. Because they are trying to find someone who doesn’t suck. They aren’t trying to find that “A” player. You might think they are but those people don’t generally come through the hiring process. “A” players don’t really interview for jobs. They’re often brought on board before a position really opens or are brought in through back channels.
It is kind of like when selling a house. The listing agent often has someone she thinks would be perfect for the house and often shows that person the house before it even hits the market.
It is the same with recruiting. The position will always go to a known “A” or “B” player before it is even offered up to the public.
And if there isn’t someone who meets those requirements they will also often look to see if there is a possible hire inside the company already.
So where does this put you?
So you’re the outsider. You’re essentially making cold calls. They don’t know you. They assume you suck like everyone else. They’re busy and really don’t want to waste their time interviewing people who suck. They just want to find someone that meets their needs and hire them and get them going so they can offload all the work that is stacking up on the hiring manager’s desk.
So someone out there is looking to hire. How do they find you?
- They review resumes they’ve received in the past
- They go through the list of people they interviewed and liked but didn’t end up hiring for reasons other than the person’s skills
- They may place an ad.
- They may search LinkedIn
- They may ask coworkers and industry contacts
- They may work with a recruiter or executive search firm
- They may work with a temporary or temp-to-perm staffing agency
- They may hold or attend a job fair
- They may recruit from colleges or technical schools
So how do you give yourself a better chance of being found?
Create a narrow search profile.
- Industry that has the position you’re looking to fill, a career path that you could progress in from entry level to retirement, and fits with your interests and abilities
- Geographic area you’re willing to work in – think commutes and cost of living and your ideal social activities, family, or other commitments that would restrict your search area
- Role/Title of the role you’re aiming for
- Title/Person who would be the hiring manager
- Other people who might work with or know the hiring manager (who might put in a good word for you with the hiring manager)
Once you’ve figured out what you’re searching for, you need to get visible and increase your likelihood of success.
First start with your resume and cover letter. Do they sell you and what you can do for the employer in the role you’re applying for? If not that is the first thing you’ve got to get handled. No point in getting in front of decision makers without having a tool that sells you well. You’d just be wasting good opportunities.
Find a resume writer or reviewer to either critique your resume or rewrite it for you so it sells you better. The best writers will ask you detailed questions in the process to ensure they pull out the best qualities you bring. Often those are forgotten or not recognized by you because you’re too close to the situation. Contact me for a critique.
Okay, so now you have a good resume and a cover letter to get you in the door. What else should you be doing to improve your odds?
Who else is selling you?
Ideally you’ll have others selling you to the hiring manager. Whether that is the managers boss (best) or a coworker or industry contact they trust (second best). Or it could be a recruiter or staffing agency (they’re a little biased since they get paid when you get placed, but they can also add feedback and background info that is often valuable to the hiring manager).
So those are the people you want to be in contact with or influencing. You can do that through LinkedIn connections, informational interviews, industry mixers, contacting your industry contacts who may know people in the company that work with that manager.
People often forget that they don’t always need a direct connection to have influence. Often 2nd or 3rd level connections can be more powerful than direct connections.
Now lets say you made it to an interview (they didn’t toss your resume in round one of the “Do you suck?” elimination process).
Now this typically goes two ways.
The first is they have a candidate already in mind and you’re the comparison. In this case you’re in a distinctly bad position. Usually in this situation you will not get the job unless the person they had in mind really sucked and failed in the interview. This is like when Marco Rubio repeated his line four times when Chris Christie challenged him on repeating memorized lines…Rubio Roboto. You don’t want to do that.
So if the person they had in mind does fail, then things are wide open again and you may have a shot. Just know that if you’re in this situation, your chances of getting the job are about 1-5%.
The second way this goes is when there is no preferred candidate. This often happens when new project work comes and there is a big expansion at the company. They you have a really good shot. And often there can be multiple positions to fill, which further improves your chances.
The key in these interviews is to talk about how what you have done applies to what they’re looking for you to do in the position. Managers don’t want to hire people who have to learn everything on the job. They often don’t have time for that. They want to hire people who have already done the job. Of course most people who have already done the job want the next job up the food chain. And if they do go for the job at the same level it is either for more pay or better benefits or a better career path.
And how do you learn what hiring managers will be looking for in people who are interviewing for the role?
Often it is telegraphed in the ad or what they communicate to the recruiters. You should ideally go to Monster.com or another industry job board and search for the job title you’re looking for and pull up all the help wanted descriptions. They often give you the requirements, skills, etc. they are looking for. Of course they ask for everything under the sun. But after looking over five to ten you’ll get a sense of what industry expectations are for those roles.
Then compare their requirements to your resume. What skills do you meet or exceed the requirements? What accomplishments do you have in each of those areas that you have documented in your resume or can research and show? What skills or experiences do you not have that you may need to have an answer for or need to start building?
If you’ve done all that work,
- Developing relationships with influencers
- Polishing up your resume and cover letter
- Preparing for tough interview questions
- Aligning your search with your skills and interests
And you don’t suck at the interview, you will give yourself a good chance to win the job.
And once you do, you need to be preparing yourself for the next job. It is never to early to prepare.
If you need help with any of this, contact me here.
Are you looking for wireless telecom jobs? Then check this out before you look further.