In my last blog, I wrote about how companies can manage through the flood of resumes that are hitting them. If it is difficult for corporate Human Resources right now, it is devastating for those looking for a job. As bleak as the picture is, there are companies that still need to fill crucial positions. So how do you become a candidate, let alone get the job?
Show how you added value. Include quantified performance metrics – increased sales, saved money, trimmed expenses, increased retention. This is no time for generalities.
Highlight special project assignments. Special projects shout, “Handpicked for responsibilities outside my regular realm!” It shows that you can influence others (which is a critical competency), present ideas to senior management, and work in an evolving organization. It shows you can be a facilitator of change…industries are constantly changing, you need to show that you can too.
Fresh language is a must. Some people haven’t put together a resume in 15 years, and it shows. Instead of the canned “to develop creative solutions” (everyone from a chef to a hedge fund manager can use this phrasing), make sure your resume shows you are experienced with new millennium techniques and tools. If you aren’t, then now is the time to Learn, Read, Inquire, www.blueskyresumes.com is a terrific site for viewing sample resumes and for getting expert guidance on putting together an effective resume.
GO! to networking functions and association meetings. Aside from learning, they provide the opportunity to make an in-person contact. If your last job was in an industry that has been decimated (oh, let’s say finance), think about parallel industries where you can apply your skills. Strategies for expanding your contact base and resources can be found at www.layoffsurvivalguide.com.
GO! online. Get yourself on social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. Any potential contact and any recruiter who wants to make it in the new millennium, is using these sites, so should you.
Should you leverage a contact? If you cannot be absolutely 100% sure you are going to get a really strong recommendation with solid work-related experience to back it up, hold back.
If you are interviewed, but the company declines to go the next step with you, do not -- I say DO NOT -- go around HR to your contact. As painful as it may seem (and I know it is painful), you will alienate the HR person -- someone who may consider you for another position at a later time -- and kill any future chance to get into the company.
You CAN use a strong contact before being interviewed or to get an interview or after you receive positive feedback from an interview.
Have a positive attitude. This is the hardest, but you must. You must.
I know it is tough out there… I’m living through this crummy economy too. 2009 is a new year and I am optimistic that it will be a better one. I will continue to give more tips for candidates and I welcome yours. Please feel free to post your comments.