We’ve all heard the common breakup cliché, “it’s not you, it’s me.” However, in the job search process, it’s just the opposite.We’re looking to connect with a company, not break up with them. More importantly, when we are creating our résumé, cover letters, and LinkedIn profile we must keep in mind that it’s not about who we are or what we’ve done. It’s about what the hiring manager is looking for and how we can help the prospective employer achieve their business objectives. Yes, we need to list our experience, skills, and talents. But we also need to put them in the context of how they will help the person that were communicating with succeed in their quest to hiring the right person.
The easiest way to create your job search collateral so that it will appeal to hiring managers is to spend most of your time researching the companies that you’re applying to and the positions they are looking to fill. Employers do us a great service by telling us what their criteria are and what they will be looking for in the cover letters and résumés they receive. All we must do is to use the same keywords and terminology in our correspondence and résumé. This does not mean that we should deceive the employer and include qualifications, experience, and skills that we don’t have. Rather, we need to simply state our qualifications in the context of their requirements. This way they’ll want to connect with us immediately and be interested in taking the next step to interview us.
When creating your job search collateral make sure you understand the purpose of each piece. Your cover letter should encourage the reader to look at your résumé. The key components of this are a brief introduction and several reasons why you’re interested in both the position, as well as the company. Show them why they should be interested in you and use 3 to 4 qualifications to back that up. Lastly, create a call to action suggesting the next step, which is usually a phone call or a meeting. With a well-written resume that highlights your qualifications, you’ll be more likely to catch the hiring manager’s eye.
The purpose of the résumé is to encourage the hiring manager to invite you to an interview. The structure of the document is critical because most readers make a decision about you within 20 to 30 seconds. Therefore, the first half of the first page is the most important real estate of your résumé. It should contain your contact information, the title describing the position you are applying for, a summary of your qualifications, and a bulleted list of applicable skills for the available position. Once the hiring manager sees this, and if it is effective, they’ll then view the rest of your résumé which contains information about your work experience, education, and other achievements. This is all evidence for the information summarized in the first half of the first page.
Your final piece of job search collateral is your LinkedIn profile. This is your online résumé and most employers will want to see this before they call you in for an interview. Again, each component of your LinkedIn profile should describe what you can do for prospective employers. Be sure that your profile demonstrates what you have done for your previous employers to help them successfully accomplish their business objectives. This starts with the title and continues with your summary and work experience.
The key is to focus on the prospective employer in the requirements they’ve laid out for the position that you’re interested in. By not becoming too focused on your work history and skill sets, you’ll be more successful in the job search process and more apt to obtain your next career position.