It’s Time To Up The Game & Land Yourself A Better Job
In today’s highly competitive job market, it is becoming increasingly important to stand out from the crowd. Typically, the first opportunity for a job seeker to stand out is their resume. Hiring managers can sift through anywhere from tens to hundreds of resumes each time they look to fill a position, choosing just a handful of candidates to interview based on the narratives contained within their resumes. So how can you, the job seeker, stand out from the crowd and land that awesome job?
Realise that the goal of a resume is not to land you the actual job. It’s to have another conversation – to land you an interview.
In order to succeed, you need to pique the interest of the hiring manager and make them want to learn more about you. This is achieved by painting an interesting picture while keeping it brief and relevant. Far too many job seekers have resumes packed full of details that don’t serve any purpose – neither helping paint a picture of the candidate nor adding any credibility.
Firstly, formatting should be clear and simple – but it should be an afterthought, not the focal point of your resume. Don’t worry about what paper your resume is printed onto or having a really nice-looking creatively designed resume – unless you are applying for a job as a designer, in which case the design of your resume is a part of your personal narrative!
So what’s the picture you want to paint? Everyone who applies for a given job will likely have a similar title and amount of experience. What’s your niche? Are you really just a “Marketing Manager”? Or do you have some unique and valuable assets obtained from your experience, education and extracurriculars?
Your experience is usually the most important thing on your resume, unless you have (for example) a postgraduate degree from a prestigious university. Your work experience tells the hiring manager the story of who is really behind the piece of A4 paper they hold in their hand. When writing about your experience, you should constantly be thinking to yourself “What do I want the reader to think about me?” and adjusting your narrative based on this.
To use the Marketing Manager example again – perhaps you want to paint the picture of being entrepreneurially-minded with strong skills in digital inbound marketing. Rather than just saying you were “responsible for inbound lead generation” in your last job, talk about how you “used Google AdWords and SEO techniques to increase inbound lead volume by 65%”. Mention that you identified an opportunity to create a strategic partnership with another organisation that improved both companies’ inbound lead generation results. Use quantifiable credibility markers such as “Created $1.7m worth of pipeline” or “Keynote speaker at X Conference”
By being strategic about the skills and achievements you mention in your job experience, you paint a certain picture in the mind of the hiring manager – making them think “Who is this person? I need to learn more about them!” and thus securing the job interview.
Your education may be a very valuable part of your narrative, or it may be a minor detail. If you went to a prestigious university, then of course that will make you stand out straight away – but it goes beyond just prestigious names and degrees. What did you really learn? Did you write an undergrad thesis on the psychology of persuasion and how it pertains to marketing? Did you develop your entrepreneurial skills by creating and managing popular social events for other students? Did you contribute to an article published in a scientific journal? Everyone else has a degree just like yours. These are the things that really interest hiring managers.
Your extracurriculars will typically be the last item on your resume, however they are crucial in tying together your personal narrative and building your credibility. Your experience and education show that you are capable of doing the job, but what else do you want to tell the hiring manager about yourself? What else can you fit into this 1-2 page document that will show you are someone worth hiring? For example, are you entrepreneurial? A philanthropist? Social and fun? Incredibly high work ethic? These are all hugely valuable assets in the job market, and they can be showcased through the things you do for fun (and probably take for granted).
For example, a statement as short and simple as “ABC Local Football Club A Team, club events coordinator and coach of u14 squad” tells the hiring manager several things about a candidate. First, they are active, social, and have a balanced lifestyle. They know how to have fun, and the 40-50 hours a week spent together at work will be enjoyable. They are capable of managing stressful projects with a variety of collaborators. They have leadership ability, and are capable of teaching skills to others. Even a common and apparently uninteresting thing like playing on a local football team can be tremendously valuable in adding important details to the picture that is painted for the hiring manager.
Remember – every line on your resume needs to have a clear strategic purpose. Every word needs to earn its place on the page. Each section of your experience, education and extracurriculars should have a very specific purpose behind it, contributing to your personal narrative. Asking yourself the questions “What does the reader think when they read this?” and “What do I want them to think?” will allow you to cut any unnecessary filler and focus on the things that pique the curiosity of the hiring manager enough to want a conversation with you.
Every little detail in your resume, from your prestigious university degree down to the monthly satirical article you write for the local newspaper, adds some value to your story. By maximising the value of each of these details, you paint a great picture that makes you stand out from the crowd and has you well on the way to securing a brilliant job.