As I mentioned last week, one of the first things Paul did (before I even landed in the same state with him) was update his resume. He did a pretty good job, of course. But even he would have to admit that my HR experience has helped him ensure his resume is not overlooked in the pile among hundreds of others.
I have helped many people update their resume through the years. I've also been on the flip side in reviewing a bazillion resumes during my time in HR. Let me walk you through this scenario to help you see my point before it's made. There is a definite strategy to this.
- Manager of Widgets position has been posted online.
- Several professional recruiters send resumes to the company unsolicited.
- Qualified applicants apply.
- Sea of resumes overtake the HR person's office.
It is extremely easy to send out your resume. It's easy to send the email, press “apply” on an online career site or even to email it. Companies need YOU to help them find you and it ain't gonna be easy.
The HR person who is tasked to source talent for the position now has the job of going through the gazillion resumes from old ladies who crochet to true qualified candidates. In order to be efficient, skimming is their friend. Here's what you need to do to make sure your resume catches their eye and lands in the “potential interview” pile.
Don't apply for every position that you might be a fit for. Take your time and apply for the positions that you can envision yourself in tomorrow. Modify your resume for each position individually to align your job responsibilities and keywords to that position's responsibilities and experience requirements.
Here is an example.
Widget Manager: Manage widget manufacturing including, but not limited to, planning, capital investment, operations, continuous improvement, material movement, lean manufacturing, quality, delivery, customer requirements, cost, inventory, and employee relations. Must possess demonstrated problem solving, manufacturing practice applications (e.g., SPC, Flow Charts, standardized work, KAIZEN, etc.).
Play up what you have and make sure it matches what they want. This example above specifically mentions KAIZEN. If have this experience, mention it. It also asks for someone with experience with SPC. Maybe you don't have experience with that specifically so don't mention it. To put it simply, play up what you do have (just never lie or mislead the company, of course).
Industry experience is necessary for some levels. However, if a company wants to think out of the box and wants an A Player, take that A Player regardless of the industry. There are a certain set of behaviors that your organization will need to perform up to par for the shareholders. You need employees who posses those behaviors, regardless of experience, to meet targets and achieve goals.
Paul had no clue about siding before he went into his last position. Before he was let go, he had the most profitable, most efficient and highest morale plant in that business. The new guy coming in could sit on his thumbs all day and the plant would likely still run as long as long as morale is positive. That's saying something about his ability and his leadership. It's true too, the company's recent quarterly report proves it (and yes, I'm biased but he is an A Player ;). You need to express that in your interview and your resume too, especially if that's a requirement for the job.
Express your passion on paper and online. If it takes some learning, a company needs to see that in a resume. They need to see how well you have learned in the past. With the technology nowadays, they can see you on LinkedIn AND even hear from you if you wanted to send along a YouTube video resume. It is easier now than ever for a company to know who you are thanks to technology. Use this to your advantage!
Be prepared to give specific examples. We always conducted behavioral based interviews. These ask specific questions and the desired answer is a specific situation to show your behaviors. Make a list of 10 responsibilities and think about a specific situation that you went through while utilizing each skillset. If it was an outlandish request to create a new product and ship everything on time, share exactly what happened, what you did about it and the outcome.
Be prepared to explain the tough stuff. There's no secret that Paul lost his job. However, whatever reason the company gave him for this, he can take in a copy of the fourth quarter results SHOWING the prospective company that his plant was the most profitable in the division despite the “reorganization.” Companies will deduce what they want about an applicant. However, having this as backup, as an HR person, I would know that perhaps maybe some Corporate politics were going on (yes, it still happens even in this day and age unfortunately).
So if I were your teacher and I had to give you an assignment, here's what I would ask you to do:
- Clean up your resume to reflect your previous and/or most current job responsibilities.
- Find 10 current jobs openings that are a fit for what you want to do.
- Rewrite your resume so it fits closely with what those companies are looking for. Be sure to to use the exact same keywords that the company does (in my KAIZEN example above).
- Find a contact within that company somehow – Google and LinkedIn are your friend with this assignment.
- Email the HR or Hiring manager, and/or call them to ask if they received your resume and need additional information.
- Make a list of 10 key responsibilities in your work experience and think about specific situations that showcase your experience. Be prepared to discuss these in great detail during any interviews.
- Anywhere from 2-4 days after your interview, follow up with everyone who you met with and thank them for their time during the interview process.
The timing on this is strategic, especially if the company is still interviewing. Your thank you letter could come right after another interview they conducted and remind them that you ARE the best fit for the job.
If you don't get the first, second or even tenth job you have interviewed for, do NOT be discouraged. The right job will come along at the right time. I know it sounds easy to say but we're living this right now too. We're waiting on a few things to come through as Paul has had already several interviews and some very promising leads.
Continue to network and treat your job search as an actual job because doing it well IS work. Don't start sleeping in and don't lose the passion for what you do (or did) no matter what the circumstances are.
If you have any questions about any of this above, please leave a comment. I will answer every question personally.