If you’ve been sending out resume after resume, applying for job after job, and you’re not getting the kind of response you were expecting, obviously there’s a reason. And usually the reason is that your resume is simply not standing out from the crowd.
Imagine for a moment that you’re a human resources manager in charge of finding someone to fill a plum spot in your company. The job offers a good salary, great benefits, and challenges galore, so you’re inundated daily with resumes and well-crafted cover letters, all vying for your attention. What do you do with that heap of resumes? Spend hours poring over them, getting to know each person’s history in detail in order to compare them to each other?
Statistics show that on average, managers spend only about 10-15 SECONDS looking over a resume the first time around! So if you aren’t able to capture a potential employer’s attention in those precious few seconds, you aren’t likely to ever answer your phone and hear them inviting you to an interview. Managers use that initial once-over to filter out the resumes that don’t pass muster. You need to be sure that your resume lands in the pile that gets a more in-depth review.
Of course the first step toward getting noticed is having a well written, appropriately laid out professional resume that presents your education, skills, and accomplishments in a concise and appealing fashion. The quality of your resume is the most important part of getting noticed in those first few seconds of review. But lots of other people will also be submitting terrific resumes, too. So what can you do to edge them out of the competition?
To start with, you can attend as many industry conferences and seminars as you can find time to go to. Listing conference attendances on your resume will show a potential employer that you’re not content just to sit at a desk doing your job, you’re actually interested in your career and furthering your knowledge on your own. If possible, try to use your experience and education to snag a gig speaking at a conference. Attending a conference shows that you’re interested in learning. Participating in a conference shows that you’re interested in contributing.
Join professional organizations related to the industry you want to work in. But don’t just join; actually go to the meetings. Not only can you learn things that might be useful in your job hunting, attending meetings is one of the best ways possible to network with other people in your field. You may hear about job openings before they’re posted, or you might even meet a hiring manager that you can impress in person without even securing an interview.
Some organizations have newsletters or quarterly reports; see if you can write an article for publication. Look for magazines or journals related to your career, and then write an article to submit. Published articles look terrific listed on a resume.
If you really want to put some time and effort into making your resume stand out from the crowd, then perhaps you should look into pursuing industry certifications that will make you more marketable. Or you can go one step further and take continuing education courses or even pursue a graduate degree. Many colleges and universities offer classes at night and on weekends, so pursuing a more advanced degree can be done without impacting your work schedule.
All of these things require time and effort beyond just printing resumes and licking stamps. But in today’s highly competitive job market, time spent getting a job is never time wasted. Sure, it may take a huge chunk out of your personal life for the short term, but if pursuing these resume upgrades results in your resume standing out from the crowd, then it’s well worth the sacrifice.
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