Recently I was asked how to increase the odds that a resume will result in a formal interview with the hiring manager. The answer is easy. Find out what the hiring manager's pain is and sell your solution. Making it happen takes some work.
The important thing to remember is that while a resume is about the candidate, it is also about responding to the hiring manager's needs. Good resumes demonstrate how the candidate can help resolve specific things the hiring manager needs done by clearly stating the candidates relevant achievements. It really comes down to taking the initiative to find out what the needs are and respond to them.
Unfortunately job descriptions rarely portray the needs accurately or completely. Very often they are boiler plate descriptions that lack a truly accurate description of a hiring managers' pain, the real problem to be solved. Normally the hiring manager is the only one who really understands his or her pain, not an outside recruiter, the company recruiter, or whoever writes the job description. The best these people can do is to find candidates, screen them, and recommend them to the hiring manager to review. Why not turn the hiring process around? Speak directly to the hiring manager before submitting your resume. Impossible you say? Not if you learn how.
There is no question that having an informal conversation with the hiring manager before formally applying is the most direct approach to landing the job. It enables the resume to be edited to be sure it addresses why the candidate is best suited to help fix the hiring managers key needs. Does reaching out to the hiring manager always work? No! But it beats applying first and hoping to get a call. There are several reasons why it works.
· It establishes a rapport with the hiring manager.
· It demonstrates taking initiative and action rather than passively waiting and wondering.
· It eliminates doubt about how to respond to need.
· It enables one to edit the resume and prioritize keywords and accomplishments that are relevant to the need.
· It gives those who do it a significant competitive advantage over those who don't by differentiating you from the 'herd'.
· It also makes writing a cover letter a much easier task by allowing one to reiterate key points the hiring manager liked from the conversation.
There is not a better way to achieve competitive advantage and win the interview.
If you're not getting the results you expected from your search approach, consider the following:
· Find out what the hiring manager needs directly from the source. Make direct voice contact.
· Don't think only about your own needs when you write your resume. Think about accomplishments you have achieved that will help the manager solve his or her problems.
· Focus on your achievements and the results of your work. How did the things you have done keep business going smoothly or improve something?
· Keep in mind a resume is an advertisement, not a biography. Avoid excessive description of your responsibilities and history. Responsibilities, positions and even job titles may not be as important as you think if you have not described the results of your work.
· Format for skimming, not reading. People glance at resumes. They don't read them. They skim, quickly glancing for key words, numbers, and phrases that interest them. Make it easy for them to find the reasons to interview you. Position the things they are looking for where they will jump out at the reader.
· Keep your resume relevant to the hiring managers needs. Avoid writing paragraphs. Remove words and sentences that are not relevant to the needs.
· Spelling and grammar are important. So is neat, orderly formatting. Avoid appearing ignorant or careless.
· Make sure your resume is compatible with Applicant Tracking System (ATS) screening software.
The takeaway is this: The best way to increase the odds of getting an interview is to speak directly to the hiring manager, informally, to understand his or her needs before applying for the job. Then, by following good resume and cover letter writing skills and by responding to key needs, you will be a prime candidate and win an interview.
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