February 18, 2010

Resumes Are More Involved Than You Think

 Resumes are an essential tool for job seeking.  Writing one is tricky.  Fail this task and you are going to be overlooked and ignored by the people you most want to pay attention to you.

When preparing to apply for a job,  there are certain things that you must convey to your potential employer.  It is important to think through what you have to offer relative to the needs of the employer you are targeting.   

Many applicants leave themselves locked in their past by simply writing a resume that shows a chronological list of where they have been,  while  failing to show how their education, experience, knowledge and skills fit with the future employer's needs.

Designing the perfect resume requires you to focus on what your greatest assets are relative to the employer you are hoping will select you above all of the other candidates.  If you fail to do this,  your resume will end up in the shredder.

You need to start at the beginning to create a resume that will yield the desired result.  Research and self-assessment as well as some job analysis are the first steps to writing the PERFECT RESUME.

Your self assessment begins with completing the Motivated Skills Checklist in Chapter 5.3 of The Serious Job Seeker  to find your highest level skills.  It is absolutely essential that you start here.    Failure to do so will leave you without the ingredients necessary to build your resume and to prepare for your interview.

Next,  before you even start to apply for a specific company or try to write a resume, go to the US Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) and find job descriptions for the types of positions you plan to apply for.  Here is a description of the OOH and a search box/link.

Your job is to figure out exactly what a person does in your chosen field and to have in your arsenal the language necessary to describe your skills from that angle.  

You will also need to know what a specific employer wants and be able to show that you have exactly what it takes to be successful in the job.  Many lesser qualified candidates beat more experienced candidates by being able to describe in detail why they are perfect for the job.  The employer will not necessarily assume that you have what is necessary if you do not state it clearly in your resume and in your interview.

Start by researching the company and the job you hope to get with that company.  Carefully dissect the job description (descriptions) finding the exact requirements.  Then identify your talents that fit with the employer's needs.  It helps is you do an inventory of your education, experience and extra curricular activities and data mine each of them for things that would strengthen your candidacy and resume.  

Your Magic 7

The 7 things that employers want and that you must demonstrate you actually have:
  • Technical Expertise that match their company's needs
  • Computer Skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Organization Skills
  • Team Skills
  • Leadership
  • Analytical/ Problem Solving / Troubleshooting Skills
The sources of your magic 7:
  • Your Education
  • Your Experience
  • Your Extra Curricular Activities 
How you convey you have what employers want:
  • A well designed resume
  • A portfolio showing work experience and work samples
  • Well crafted correspondence 
  • Interview performance