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Friday, July 07, 2017

Become the Ideal Candidate

Written by  Richard Finger

There are some tricks to impress potential employers by adding some pop to a resume or job application. Having reviewed hundreds of resumes over the years, I know how it can be an arduous task. Recruiters are now looking for the resumes and applicants that stand out from the pack.

Nothing is more frustrating than applicants who apply for jobs that are completely out of reach with their background and experience. With electronic applications being the norm, with clicks of buttons, applicants blindly apply for any available job, without much consideration of the required experience to perform the job successfully. The recruiter will interpret this as an act of desperation, and will not take these applicants seriously, nor should they. Think about it, each application might get less than five minutes of attention, unless you take the initiative to qualify yourself as a serious candidate, the recruiter will not do this for you. The lesson here is to only apply for jobs that are within your reach, that match your skills and abilities.

Many applicants make the mistake of using only one resume to submit for different positions. Very typically, included in this generic resume is something that is another of my pet peeves, the “Career Objective” statement that invariably expresses the applicant’s “looking for a challenging opportunity to utilize my skills …blah, blah, blah.” This line serves no purpose, and does not clearly state the type of position the applicant is seeking. Likely, these resumes are placed in the unconsidered pile before the recruiter even reads anything more about the applicant’s experience. With the ease of using Microsoft Word or Open Office, it’s very simple to customize your message, i.e. say you are looking for a sales management position or application-development analyst position; using the same resume will not sell your skills for either one.

Very simply, the idea is to lead with your strengths. Imagine a recruiter is reviewing a pile of 250 resumes. You must quickly state what makes you different from everyone else. Read the job description. Your opening pitch should be customized to highlight your skills and experiences most important for the position you seek. Keep in mind that depending on where you are in your career, the opening will vary. A seasoned candidate should sell their accomplishments and skills, whereas a college graduate will need to sell their recent educational accomplishments and capacity to learn and develop. The important aspect is to pique the interest of the recruiter.

Yet another recruiter pet peeve is the applicant that calls after submitting an application. Given the workload of most recruiters, these calls are a nuisance, and will very easily move the applicant to the “Do not consider” pile. Honestly, these calls rarely help, and usually brand the applicant as a pain. In my circle of HR friends, serial callers are called “stalkers.” My recommendation is this: if your resume portrays your qualifications accurately, the recruiter will call you … so, wait for the call! Please be sure to provide the number where you can be reached quickly, not a home number if you are mostly not at home. Recruiters are busy people; they may leave a message once before moving on to the next candidate that was able to speak to them quickly.

If you are fortunate enough to secure a phone screening, be respectful of the recruiter’s time and research the company in advance. Most companies have websites. The few minutes you take to learn more about the organization will pay dividends, and will show the recruiter you did your homework, and are taking the opportunity seriously. If you do not take the time to learn more about the company, the recruiter will spend valuable time telling you about them, which leaves less time to talk about you, your experience, and your career aspirations.

Another word of advice, if possible, plan to be in a place where you are able to listen intently and take notes.

Lastly, if you’ve made it to the in-person interview stage, be prepared to complete an application. Bring a resume with you to reference dates. Employers look for consistency between the resume and the application. Never state, “See attached resume.” Firstly, this sends a signal of laziness. Secondly, depending on the organization, the information contained in the formal application will be used for background checking (employment and education verification) purposes. Should an offer come your way, accurate information provided on the application will lead to a quicker turnaround to complete the background check.

Hopefully, through the lens of the recruiter, you’ve gleaned some tips to help your resume rise to the top. If you are seeking a new opportunity, I wish you the best of luck in your search!

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