Tuesday, November 4, 2014
This is a copy of an article I posted on LinkedIn a couple of weeks ago. If you did not see it there, I think it's worth repeating here...
As a recruiter and resume writer, I see dozens of resumes every day. Many of them are from candidates who want to make a career change and are responding to an inquiry from me about a job I'm trying to fill for one of my clients. Others are from people who want to change their resumes because what they have now is not getting them any results. Most of the resumes I see are not very good and do not meet the standards I have for anything I would send to one of my clients. It's not that they do not have the margins set correctly or the layout is sloppy. It's not even the information they contain that is the problem. The problem is what they do not have in them.
One of the first rules of marketing is that when your demand conditions change, you must also change your promotional strategy. Prior to the economic downturn in 2008, a candidate who had only the basic resume components of name, contact information, experience, and education could get interviews and probably multiple job offers. We were in a strong seller's market at that time and there were more great jobs to be filled than top candidates to fill them. The best candidates often had multiple offers in their field.
However, what worked then does not work now. We are in a very strong buyer's market now, which means that hiring managers can be very selective on who they choose to interview and hire...and they are, simply because there are more great candidates now than great jobs.
Despite this very obvious change in the market, most job seekers and even most universities (who really ought to know better) continue to use the same resume style and format that was effective in the long-gone seller's market. They simply put facts about themselves on the resumes...name, contact info, education, and where they have worked, and they expect the reader to figure out the benefit that will accrue to them if they talk to and/or hire the candidate. It really doesn't work that way in today's market. If you don't also add information that gives the reader some good information about your "soft" skills, such as problem solving, creativity, tenacity, organization, attention to detail, and several others that may be specific to the job you are seeking, you cannot expect the reader to assume that you have these things going for you.
When we were in the strong seller's market, companies were mainly interested in skills, qualifications, and education. If the candidate happened to be a good fit into the culture of the organization, that was a plus, but the real focus was on whether the candidate could do the job. Today's market is much different. The challenge for recruiters is not in finding skilled, qualified, experienced candidates. There is a wealth of them out there and available. The challenge is finding someone who has all those qualities and who will be a great fit into the organizational culture.
Hiring managers are busy people. Running their businesses is how they make money...not by reading resumes and conducting interviews. Those activities are a necessary, but costly exercise that takes away from what managers normally spend their time doing. So, it only makes sense that for someone to take time to consider a candidate for an interview, that candidate should give them some good reasons for wanting to talk to them.
An effective resume today is one that makes it plain to the reader what benefits will accrue to them by talking to the person that the resume represents. If you cannot make those benefits obvious on the resume, do not expect the reader to realize them from the information you have presented. Adding those benefits is the first change I make to any resume I make for job seekers as well as those resumes I send to my recruiting clients. The results have been significantly better for those candidates whose resumes reflect benefits than for the candidates who focus only on the facts about themselves and expect the hiring manager to read between the lines and recognize the benefits for themselves.