How to make yourself stand out as a prospective candidate for a Job?
She turned to me exasperated, “I’ve been posting my resume since the last 3 months and there has been no response! I’ve tried all the job portals, used my goodwill with friends and colleagues - all for naught! What more, do I do?”
Jena, a 36-year-old is a senior sales professional who was handed over a pink slip amid the economic crisis of 2020. I see her frustration reflected in many people I encounter especially on LinkedIn. They are trying hard. They are desperate.
It’s challenging for those looking for jobs in the current environment. Studies state that on average, a corporate job position, receives over 250 resumes and it takes six seconds, yes you read that right, six second to review a candidate’s resume.
And, if you haven’t cut it in the first round, you may have missed your chance, altogether.
I meet with a varied spectrum of recruiters in my line of work and one disdain each one has is that finding the right person who checks all the boxes is proving to be, more challenging. What’s more intimidating is sifting through hundreds of candidates who all seem to look alike!
How can you as a candidate grab attention and stand out among the 250 plus resumes, a recruiter receives? And be called for an interview, subsequently?
Here are some interesting ideas and tips that may help you in scoring higher. Some are unconventional and some may cater to those of you who are not ready to go all out and experiment.
First off, a resume is not a CV.
CV stands for curriculum vitae, which means “course of life” in Latin. Resumes are incisive, short, compact, and are typically restricted to one or two pages.
Don’t just write a resume lead in with a catchy headline.
Your resume needs to give a snapshot of you in the most effective way. Try adding a headline that pops out and prompts the reader to stop and invest a few seconds on you.
- What your company will lose if you don’t hire me – consistent stream of new customers.
- What your company will lose if you don’t hire me – higher retention of customers.
- 15 years of doubling profitability in the industry.
Make the recruiter say, ‘Stop! I’ve got to read this! How did they do it?’ and then craft your resume to dwell succinctly on the how and what makes you say that.
Focus on the Power of Three (PO3).
Now, that you have tempted them to pour through your resume, remember to keep their attention and focus on the three compelling questions to corroborate your achievements. –
What does the company do?
What is your position in the company?
How did the company gain as a consequence of your efforts?
Most times, candidates get carried away, adding superfluous information that bears little relevance to what they achieved. Stay sharp and focussed on the PO3.
Include work experience as far back as 15 years only.
What’s the point of adding how you fared in school or that you scored in the college debate or even your first job as an intern? How does it add value to the position, you are applying for? Every addition in your resume needs to strengthen your hireability. If it doesn’t add up, edit it.
Keep it short and succinct.
Should the resume be a one pager, two-pager or more? This question gets asked, often. Here’s the thumb-rule. A one-page resume is more than sufficient in case you are an entry- and mid-level professional. If you have substantial experience and/or skills that is necessary to highlight then a two-page resume is good to go with. For senior level positions or academicians, a three to four pages resume is acceptable. Marissa Mayer, the former CEO of Yahoo has one of the most well-crafted resumes and fits in all of one page.
Some things to be extra mindful about.
Pay heed to the use of caps, adverbs, exclamation marks, fonts, colours, personal pronouns and of course, your grammar. Use or over-use may have an adverse effect on the recruiter. One size does not fit all. Customise your resume based on the audience.
I came across this story on the internet of Lukas Yla. A marketing specialist and immigrant from Lithuania, wanted to make it big in San Francisco. He disguised himself as a deliveryman and delivered his resume which was hidden in donut boxes with a headline that read, “Most resumes end up in trash – mine – in your belly.” to over 40 companies. In fact, being a marketing person, he worked on his job campaign strategy with permutation and combinations and multiple iterations he made a breakthrough. The result – he landed 10 interviews! In an interview, he is known to have said, "Recruiters, marketing pros and people in general love this kind of approach, it's something you didn't expect, fun and out of the box." Lukas demonstrated to the companies that he was a perfect fit for the role with his campaign ideation and execution abilities. Closer home, in Pune
A creative approach and thinking literally, out of the box can get you noticed.
Increase visibility on social and professional networks.
Be seen where the audience is. Use your LinkedIn and Instagram, strategically. Showcase your thinking process and expertise through articles and posts. Follow the people you are keen to work in and comment with relevant points on their posts. Recruiters use LinkedIn to verify profiles so audit your social media and be cognizant of what you post.
Do not overlook traditional job platforms.
Recruiters are active on monster, naukri, timesjobs, shine, etc so keep updating your job profile and be actively engaged on these platforms.
You do not need to use all the tips given. However, a few may help you in getting more traction. Remember to follow up with the recruiters. Many give up thinking it won’t happen. Jena was persistent and with a few tips from here and persistent and non-intrusive follow up, she has two interviews lined up as I write this.
Victory comes to those who are keen to make a change and imbibe the discipline to persevere. Wish you victory in your endeavour! Do write back in case you found this useful. I’d love to know what else can be added to this as well. Victory is in your hands. Go for it!