Does firing off application after application make you feel like you’re making progress when it comes to your job search? I’m sorry to tell you that if you’re like most people, you’re probably not. In fact, you may be doing it all wrong… Ah, always the motivational speaker, aren’t I? ;)
It’s funny that one of the things I spend a lot of time working with (incredibly intelligent) people on is so simple…
The thing is, for some reason, we all seem to have it ingrained in our heads that a resume is designed to summarize all of our professional experience and capture what we’ve done throughout our lives. We try to cram as much detail as we can – usually – onto one or two pages to show just how accomplished and skilled we are.
The problem is, usually only a portion of this (and sometimes a very small portion) of this experience is actually related to the job description that’s been advertised. And not only that, but we write about our experience as WE are used to. We use the vocabulary, the acronyms, and the language that we are accustomed to.
What this leaves the recruiter or manager with, is the *work* of having to sift through your resume to try to find relevant bits of experience and then extrapolate from that if you might fit the requirements for the job. But guess what? Most won’t do this. They won’t. They are a lot more likely to move on to one of the other 500+ applicants. Again, you’re welcome for the daily inspiration ;)
What this means is that you need to do the work for them, and make their job as easy as possible. You need to scrap all the details of your experience (even if it’s “good” work experience) that’s not related to the job in question. I’m not saying you leave entire positions off so as to show gaps in your employment, but don’t use valuable space on the page to discuss something they’re not looking for.
You also need to speak the same language. If they’re talking about brand, say brand. If they’re referring to the customer experience, then say customer experience.
It’s hard to knowingly remove content from your resume that you know is good. You were there and saw how impressively you ran an event, and how smoothly a project went. But here’s the rule. If something doesn’t relate to the job you want, take it out. Here’s an example to bring it to life. Maybe you brought in five new corporate clients to your PR firm, but if you’re applying to a role that doesn’t involve business development. Guess what I say? Take it out! Even if HR or the manager is impressed, you don’t want them to see you as a client-focused type and decide this role isn’t for you.
Have you been focusing your resume and cover letter too much on you, instead of focusing on what the company needs/wants and how you can be a great fit? Share your story in the comments below.