In its Sunday edition, the Chicago Sun-Times published an interesting article about the importance of networking for new college grads (I can’t find a link in the digital edition). Experts cited make a very good point about young job seekers focusing too much on the internet and online job submissions. They emphasize the importance of face to face contract and building a network of professional connections.
I agree with all of this. My only worry is that some readers will read articles like this and stop using online tools. Several clients have told me that “nobody” find work by using job boards like CareerBuilder or Monster. If that were true, why do employers continue to post jobs on those sites? People also find jobs by identifying and going to the website of companies they want to work for. LinkedIn is another great tool to use as part of a good, balanced job search.
Never use just one method of looking for work. When one approach isn’t working, be ready to try something else. Good sales people find new and different ways to discover new customers. We have to do the same thing when looking for work. Don’t get stuck in a rut – try something new.
Many career experts claim there is a outline that every resume must follow. That advice may be true for how they write and what can make their job easier. It does not speak for employers who are hiring. They want to see the specific qualifications and achievements that their industry and company requires. They are not looking for a resume format. They need an employee who can do the job.
One thing every resume has to present is relevant experience and achievements. To determine what your industry is looking for, I suggest developing a market profile. Collect 10-15 job postings for the kind of jobs you are going to be pursuing. List qualifications and requirements. Note what elements are repeated, even if they are phrased in slightly different terms. Use this information to guide how you write about your experience and achievements. Highlight what the employers need, and they will be more likely to call you in for an interview.
What about students? How can new graduates who have never worked in a field write about experience? They can focus on what they did in school. Emphasize skills or areas of knowledge that will enable you to make an immediate contribution on the job. Employers are not hiring you to take classes or tests. They need to see what you can do on day one. How else can these skills be shown? Cite internships and projects in which you used the skills that the employer is seeking.
Almost every resume should include a list of relevant computer/technical skills. For IT professionals, this list can cover a quarter to a third of a page. One thing to consider in listing technical skills: keep it relevant. Let’s say you are very skilled in web site development and HTML programming. Check your market profile. If those skills are not need by employers, do not include them on your resume. Keep your presentation focused and concise.
If you are a professional who needs a license or certification (CPA, public school teacher, lawyer), note that qualification early in the resume in a way that is easy to see. Less important certifications can be listed after education.
Many people claim that resumes should include activities or interests because they lead to talking points in interviews. I disagree. Some interviewers might refer to your golf skills or membership in a fraternity. Most will focus on job-related skills and achievements. Volunteer work can be included if it is relevant to the position you are seeking. But be sure to show how it is relevant.
A good resume will included elements that the employer wants to see. Unless you are very new to the job market, it should not include every job you have ever held. If you held a job for 3-6 months, only include that position if it gave you some relevant skill that you can use in the job you are pursuing. Be ready to explain in an interview how a short term position gave you that skill. Also be prepared to address why the position was short term.
A good resume will give a hiring manager the information she needs to evaluate you as a candidate. Resumes that are not focused or offer unneeded skills will be reviewed for 10 seconds or less before they move to a recycling bin. Stay in the game. Your resume has to make a strong case that you are someone who deserves an interview. Know what the employer needs. Show that you have the right stuff.