As an individual who spends my entire professional life screening, interviewing, and referencing potential candidates for a variety of industries and career tracks, I have seen first-hand the good, the bad, and the downright ugly when it comes to employment seekers. With the recently released stats that the United States has reached double digit unemployment rates, the competition is tougher than ever. However, some very simple tips can help you stand out above the crowd. Here I share my “Secrets for Success” based on thousands of successful job placements and a variety of candidate backgrounds.
- Stick With What You’ve Done: Make sure your resume is relevant to the job that you are applying for. I have received countless resumes that have zero relevance for the job being offered. If you are looking to make a career transition, tailor your experience to demonstrate skills integral to the new position.
- Don’t Overdo It: Do not apply over and over for the same job. You can rest assured that in any company worth working for, your resume is being reviewed so there is no need to apply multiple times. This includes applying online and also sending a paper resume. It does not demonstrate persistence, but rather a lack of organization and focus.
- Don’t Blend In: Make your resume simple, but tailored to your career field. Do not use templates for your resume, everyone else is doing that! You don’t want your resume to look identical to the one next to it. Make it unique, but professional and polished.
- Make it Easy to Read: When you write your resume, a narrative format is almost never appropriate. As a recruiter I am looking for specific skills and keywords, so spell them out clearly and concisely in a bulleted list.
- Have the Right Objective: Double check that your objective lines up with the job being offered. I’ve screened applicants out instantly for an administrative job because their objective read something totally different like “seeking a job as a bus driver”.
- Proofread, Please: Double check that all of the information on your resume is correct before sending it to a recruiter. All jobs require some degree of attention to detail, so you need to demonstrate you possess that skill. Ensure that your employment dates are correct and accurate. Your resume is a living document, so if you are not currently working, there should be an end date on your last employer.
- Communicate Clearly: This may sound like common sense, but if you contact me about a position, leave your phone number in the message. Speak clearly and at a reasonable pace, repeat your phone number twice, and if your name is difficult to spell, go ahead and spell it out on your message. Refer to the position you have applied for using a reference number if included.
- Communicate Professionally: When sending out your resume you never know when you’ll get that call you’ve been waiting for, so always be prepared to answer the phone as a potential candidate. If you are not in a position to speak professionally and spend some time on the phone with a recruiter, re-schedule the call for later when you have ample time. Assume every single call is from a recruiter while you are in the job hunt and answer your phone accordingly.
- Keep It Upbeat: Even if you are having a bad day, be cheerful and upbeat on the phone with a potential employer. Listen, we hear every day how tough it is to be looking for a job. It can be brutal, we understand. But, a little bit of energy goes a long way.
- Self-Evaluate: There are a lot of people competing for the same job. What makes you stand out? Make a list and keep it handy. Make sure you can verbalize your accomplishments as well as your unique challenges. A hundred applicants have told me they are “organized” and “a perfectionist”. Tell me about when these skills helped you accomplish something or were critical to your success in a job.
What many of these insider tips boil down to is utilizing common sense. Make sure you behave professionally at all times in all forms of communication, while still maintaining an engaging and likeable personality. In a competitive job market, you only get one chance to set yourself apart from the plethora of job seekers out there, so make sure you are at the top of your game. Searching for a job should be considered a job in itself, and you should consider all related activities a chance to showcase your skills and attributes.
About Grete Ruder, Recruitment Manager, Celebrity Staff
Grete joined Celebrity Staff in 2005 and has helped build its Kansas City office from the ground up. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Kansas, has served as Chamber Champion for the KC Chamber of Commerce for two years, and has completed numerous training sessions on professional cover letter and resume writing.