You’ve spent hours on your resumé, incorporated multiple suggestions from friends, made multiple changes to please job agencies and your secret mantra has become “Oh, please!” – but employers’ doors remain stubbornly shut.
Failure to get your foot in the door and land an interview – even when you’re qualified for an advertised opportunity – can happen for many reasons; but it often boils down to not telling a convincing story from the very start of your resumé.
Two Burning Questions
Most employers hate the time and risk involved in the hiring process. The cost to companies of recruiting and onboarding a new hire can be as high as one year’s salary. When an employer picks up your resumé to give it the ten-second glance, they are looking for quick answers to two burning questions:
- Will you fit?
- Will you stay?
Employers want to hire someone who: wants the job, can perform the job, gets along well, contributes to company growth, and stays for a while.
Since you’re not there in person to make your case, how do you make your resumé speak to these questions? Apply these five persuasive resumé practices to address those burning questions, engage the reader and open the door to an interview.
Five Persuasive Resumé Practices
- Target Your Profile
Immediately identify yourself as the right candidate for the job in your profile (summary statement). Your profile should convey that you understand the employer’s needs, and are ready and qualified to fill those needs. Reflect the mandatory / most important requirements of the job. These may include years of experience, education and certifications, but also knowledge critical to performing the job (e.g., Grade 10 piano, Enterprise Java, SAP MM, bilingualism). Your profile ideally takes up no more than one third to one half of your first page, to allow room to display your most recent related experience.
Customize your resumé so that it shows experience, skills and achievements related to the job you want, in language this employer understands? Customization means including the relevant details and excluding the irrelevant ones. Don’t try to be all things to all people – when a job has been advertised, the employer wants to pinpoint the right candidate for this particular opportunity quickly; not try and determine what job in the organization might fit the candidate.
- Highlight Related Achievements
Begin listing your related work experience immediately under your Profile. Concretely worded achievements – the good things you did that benefitted a past employer – help create an expectation that you can accomplish great things for a future employer. Describing related experience immediately below your customized profile demonstrates that you have actually thought about how you fit with the job.
- Reflect the Job Level
Highlight work experience that relates to the level of responsibility of the new job. Is the new job significantly below your previous level? Unless you can demonstrate why you want the new job, you raise suspicions that you will ditch it when a higher paid opportunity comes along. If you are applying to a job significantly above your current level, you must show your capability to perform through prior experience and achievements.
- Use Industry Language
If you are making the jump between sectors, e.g., from government to private sector, or from contracting to “regular full-time” work, invest the time to learn about differences in language and resumé style between the sectors. Use industry-appropriate language. Talk to colleagues who have made this transition, and don’t be afraid to get professional assistance.
Use the five persuasive practices to make your resumé show the highest degree of fit and interest you can legitimately claim between you and the advertised opportunity. This minimizes the risk for employers and opens the doors to more interviews.