Skilled or adaptable - what does your resume say?
Specialisation, though important, is not the definitive selection criteria for most recruiters
In this age of intense competition, the most important professional competency that a recruiter looks for in a candidate’s resume is adaptability
Jennifer Openshaw dons many hats. She is an entrepreneur, a financial consultant, and a mother of a beautiful daughter. As many would say, Jennifer is ‘living the American dream.’ Jennifer reveals that at a young age when she pledged to do what it takes to become a successful professional, she saw every employment option as opportunity to learn and build skills.
In an article that she published recently, Jennifer articulates the diverse set of experiences that she acquired in her professional career, including that of working as a maid. Jennifer argues that, in this age of intense competition and the constantly changing business landscape, the most important skill that a recruiter looks for in a candidate’s resume is the ability to adapt.
As professionals, many of us are inclined to pursue a limited set of competencies through the course of our careers. At some point of time, we claim to be experts in our particular field and expect the job market to attach a monetary value against it. A recognized global career expert, David Conley, argues that it is actually an individual’s “non-cognitive” skills, including experience and diversity that marks the difference between professional success and failure. Specialization, though important, is not the definitive selection criteria for most recruiters.
An analysis of language standards available in any job portal for job descriptions across widely divergent industries, roles, and hierarchical levels reveal a few interesting commonalities. These commonalities mostly revolve around adaptability or “non-cognitive” skills. The University of Bradford’s career development web site has published a set of language standards that are common in job descriptions that are advertised. Some of the commonalities include the following—
— positive “can do” attitude
— willingness to grasp opportunities
— demonstrate a dynamic approach
— the right attitude to change
Openshaw quotes from a speech from a hiring manager at Google, one of the most sought-after employers in the world, “Today, companies aren’t hiring for a specific position but rather people who are smart and flexible. The way you demonstrate that is by showing you can do multiple things well.”
Adaptability is a function of personality, cognitive behaviour, and non-cognitive skills. Experts feel that in order to assess a candidate’s adaptability, recruiters typically look for the following signs in a candidate’s resume—
— Intellectual flexibility through widely divergent academic and leisure pursuits (for example, a programmer who paints)
— Change receptiveness (ability to deliver positive business results in diverse roles)
— Capability to innovate (instances of business-results achieved through non-standard channels)
Before you go ahead and headline your resume as “PMP-certified professional with 10 years of SEO experience,” take a step back and reflect. Perhaps your dream recruiter is looking for something else.