Tuesday, February 12, 2013

From Trash to Treasure: How to Get Recruiters to Actually Read Your Resume

Have you ever watched ABC’s reality show, The Bachelor? Thousands of women submit auditions just for a chance to get on this popular show. Then, producers scrutinize videos to find 25 flawless female suitors. Just as producers cast for very specific criteria, including charm, style, class and culture, recruiters also look very carefully at candidates’ resumes to find their perfect employee: the hidden gem amongst all the junk.
Recruiters are flooded with hundreds of resumes everyday for any one position. That means, the majority of the time, they are sifting through their scary stacks looking for any disqualification that could narrow down their choices. Resumes are very powerful documents. If written properly, resumes score you that precious interview. If written poorly, resumes never see the light of day and are destined for the dumpster.
The most important advice I can give to job-seekers is to use keywords from the job description on their resume. This seems like a no-brainer, but many people use the same resume for every job that they apply for, even though every company and position is different. Not only does this show laziness on the candidate’s part, but it also shows their lack of qualification. Recruiters don’t have time to waste; make it easy for them to see upfront that you are clearly qualified.
For example, if you want to apply for a pharmaceutical sales job, and the requirements are experience in the pharma field plus an MBA, but you have no healthcare experience and only a bachelor’s degree, should you waste your time and the recruiters? No. Candidates do this all the time: apply for jobs with no industry experience. They seek out their dream job without being equipped with the proper skills and education.  If you truly want to switch careers, go back to school to acquire education in niche fields like pharmaceuticals, radiation therapy, aviation, etc. Take an unpaid internship in your dream field and start networking within the company or field you want to eventually end up in. While working in multiple industries and various jobs shows dexterity and breadth of knowledge, it’s hard for recruiters to gauge what you are good at and hone in on your expertise.
Don’t make it difficult for them by burying your sales experience at the bottom of your resume, and highlighting your marketing successes when you are applying for a sales rep position. While tailoring every single resume to every job position can be time consuming and even frustrating, it will pay off in the end. Instead of sending out hundreds of trash-destined resumes out to recruiters, shoot for a couple of well-thought out and well-written customized resumes daily that truly speak to the intricate needs of the job position.
If you have carefully read the job description and think you would be the perfect fit, tailor your resume and be prepared to back up your claims with evidence: awards, stats, portfolios, references, etc.
Job descriptions are insightful. I read them all the time to see what companies are looking for in my field, and you should do the same to stay competitive.

Friday, December 14, 2012


The job interview might be the only thing between you and the position of your dreams. Even when you're the most qualified candidate with references galore, a poor interview performance can leave a lousy impression on a potential employer. 
Yet, you can avoid nearly all interview mishaps if you prepare the right way for your interview. This means always knowing which talking points to bring up — and why these points are important in determining if the position is a good fit for you.
Here is a checklist of 10 things to always bring up in an interview:
1. The work
The most fundamental goal of the interview is to determine whether you have the skills to do the job. Still, your interviewer may not even know how to figure out if you have what it takes. You must be ready to do it for them. Be prepared with a list of your top selling points so the interviewer is completely aware of your advantages over others.
2. The company
In a 2011 survey by AccountTemps, 38 percent of managers said the number one interview mistake they encountered was little or no knowledge about the hiring organization. Don’t let that happen to you. Do your homework ahead of time so you are ready to say why you want to work at that job and for that company.
3. The culture
The work environment can determine whether you love your job or hate it. Address the work culture with your interviewer to make sure your values align. There’s nothing worse than landing a job only to realize the organization is not a place where you would feel comfortable working.
4. Industry knowledge
Want to “wow” the interviewer? Show off your knowledge of the industry. Talk about recent newsworthy events or the company’s newest products. Thoroughly understanding your industry proves your passion for the field. In addition, having this knowledge suggests you have a deeper level of expertise than the average candidate.
5. Past experiences
Your past experiences demonstrate how you would perform if you landed the job. So, you want to be prepared to describe past experiences where you had a big impact. If you have numbers to back up your claims, that’s even more persuasive.
6. Portfolio
A portfolio is a visual representation of your past work. It not only shows off your accomplishments, it also gives you added value. While a portfolio may not be essential for many positions, having physical representations off your work that you can share upon request will make you look good because you went that extra mile.
7. Your plan for the position
Your interview needs to show the company what you can do for them. Lay out what you’d do, should you get the job. This plan doesn’t need to be detailed–it just needs to illustrate how you would positively contribute to the position. For instance, presenting how you would reduce customer turnover is an easy, yet beneficial way to show an employer why you would do well.
8. Your referral (if you have one)
There’s nothing wrong with name-dropping if the person helped you land the interview. If you were referred to the position, be sure to remind the interviewer. This connection may put some legitimacy behind your candidacy, as well as spark a positive conversation between you and the interviewer.
9. Thought-out questions
Always make sure you have questions at the end of the interview. From queries about the interviewer’s role to thoughts on the history of the position, questions show your desire for the job. They can also give you more insight into the role, which may not have been addressed during the more formal portion of the interview.
10. Next steps
Understanding the next steps in the interview process is essential. Always ensure you’re aware of what these are. It may be a second interview. It may be giving the company a list of references. It may mean you won’t know the outcome for a few weeks. By asking about these next steps, you’ll know what to expect and gain some peace of mind. You’ll also show your enthusiasm for this position.
As you can see, job interviews can be a much smoother process if you use this checklist. Do your research, emphasize why you are the best candidate for the job, and always leave on a good note. You’ll find the outcome of the interview will be much more positive if you do.