How to Get an Employer to Notice You
June 10, 2013
Don't follow the hiring rules and you'll get hired faster.
It takes more work up front, but it's more effective. There's a catch, though.
To break the rules, you need to understand exactly how the hiring process works.
That means re-thinking every thing you know about the process so you can
eradicate the ineffective norm.
Let's start with your paperwork before looking at the unconventional way of
getting a company's attention.
The norm is to begin with your resume. If you want to work effectively, however,
you've missed the first step: defining who you are and what you want. Don't
write your answer perfunctorily in one sentence. Dig into your work history.
Examine what you liked, what you didn't and why.
Consider company size, management style, what motivated you. Look at each
company's culture and mission. But don't stop there. I can think of at least
seven additional factors to examine. Can you?
Now your resume. The norm is a resume that lists what you've done. If you have a
profile, it's comprised of uninspiring phrases such as "proven ability." If it
was done professionally, you may have keywords glopped on the top. There are a
few too-long paragraphs, some poor formatting and full sentences.
What you've done isn't the same as how well you've done it. You're competing
against hundreds of others with roughly the same function as you. If your resume
consists only of your responsibilities, you won't stand out. To achieve that,
you'll have to do what I call "chunking it down." Then you can begin your
First, list all your job responsibilities. Include vague phrases on your resume
that begin "responsible for," "performed" and "maintained." Pull out bullets
with lists, such as: "prepared, tracked and controlled," "coordinated events,
seminars and networking groups," and "managed, trained and guided."
Other examples are ones that are overly general: "developed and created a new
marketing program," and "initiated the start up of an insurance subsidiary."
Second, list every occasion you performed the repetitive tasks. If it was a
one-time occurrence, list the steps you went through to make it happen.
Third, because your resume must focus on the results of what you did, look at
each item in step two and consider scope, problem resolution or degree of
Results aren't always about increase or decrease. They're also about fixing,
initiating, developing and similar verbs. If you implemented a program that was
your idea, say "Created and implemented."
Scope applies to tasks that vary in size. Planning five events each month is
more difficult than one per quarter. Training 10 people is different than
A formula for problem resolution is problem, your action, outcome, benefits. Put
the results at the beginning and work the sentence backwards. Resumes aren't
read and if they're at the end, they'll be missed. No full sentences. Fragments
Generic cover letters are the norm. If your resume was done professionally, you
probably bought a cover letter. If you customize your phrases to the ad, or list
all the skills you have, it's still ineffective. Does your first sentence say
you're responding to an ad for X job? Unimpressive.
Tell the company you were excited to see the ad. Why were you excited? Because
they want X and X and X and you've got experience in those.
Anything they list as preferred that you have, goes in the first paragraph. Pick
two stories that reference two ad bullets. Each story gets one paragraph which
begins "You're looking for" and then quotes the bullet.
They want to know you read their ad. Don't paraphrase, they like their words.
They like their company name. They like "you" because it's about them, so rather
than write "the ad," write "your ad."
Contrary to popular belief, this isn't a numbers game. But when you have a vague
resume and boring cover letter, that's what you turn it into.
Next time: The unconventional path that gets results.
Judi Perkins, the How-To Career Coach and owner of Bethel-based Find the Perfect
Job, was a search consultant for 22 years. She now operates the website
Source: Copyright New Haven Register (CT) 2013