|By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President, Western Canada at Eagle
Recently on Eagle’s Talent Development Centre there has been a lot posted about resumes, personal branding, interview prep etc. meant to help people to find and land jobs. For anyone who is seeking a new contract or a career change, I encourage you to visit our site and collect all the great advice posted there. However, there is one aspect that most articles miss (or under emphasize) and it is one that I see time and again to be one of the most powerful methods for being selected for an interview. Unfortunately, it is one of the more difficult and work-intensive methods as well. And this is…
Small word, simple concept… yet so many people miss this opportunity. Many people tell me that they always keep their resume fully updated and ready to go. Fantastic! Except that this already misses the point. In order to demonstrate focus for a particular role or opportunity, one must have a resume that is specifically tailored to that position. Having ‘a resume’ written and ready indicates that it is a generic document. Yes, one that is a highlight reel of the “best of your experiences”, but it is not necessarily one that showcases why you are the best person for the specific role that your target company is looking to fill.
Being prepared, is not about creating the one, perfect resume and keeping this updated. Instead, it is about collecting all of your professional achievements and categorizing them: Leadership, Technological Abilities, Top Projects, Key Deliverables, Special Learnings, Challenges Faced, etc. This way you are prepared to highlight whatever might be deemed most pertinent/relevant to the role to which you are applying.
Certainly, you are not going to leave work experience out (unless it truly is completely unrelated), but you are going to emphasize the key experience that you have that will allow you to showcase your understanding of the position; how you will be able to easily come up to speed and contribute. Customizing your resume to the role is one of the most effective (yet overlooked) ways to get chosen for an interview/meeting. Working for a staffing company, I witness this time and time again.
People invariably hate working on their resume. It is time consuming and frustrating and, well, yucky. To do what I suggest, though, will require you to write out enough material to fill 4 or 5 resumes but you won’t use all of your writings for each copy that you build. You will be selective and, most likely, re-write each of the sections again, customizing them further to match the hiring manager’s preferences, working environment, team, role requirements, etc. This is hard work, no doubt. And it is effective.
To maximize this approach requires you to know a LOT about the company, role, hiring manager in advance of submitting your resume. The job description itself may have certain clues that will help you to know what to emphasize. But they are rarely enough to complete a true customization of your resume. The more research that you do, the better you will be able to adapt your resume for the job that you want. Some sources for this information are as follows:
- Staffing agencies (such as Eagle) are a fantastic source for this information. We work closely with our clients to understand their needs, work environment and other pertinent details about the role that they are attempting to fill. And our Recruiters will work with you to help guide you towards building a more compelling resume, highlighting certain, key experience that we know is important to our clients.
- An internet search on the company will help you understand what they find valuable as an organization. If the company’s various departments are aligned with company goals and values, these may provide some direction.
- LinkedIn search on the hiring manager will provide you an idea of their own background and the companies/projects that they’ve worked on. You can make certain inferences based on this information to help you highlight attributes that may be of interest.
- LinkedIn searching may help you find other members of the team that you would be joining. By reviewing several of these, you might get a sense as to the kinds of people this company likes to hire.
- Work your warm networks. Perhaps some of your industry colleagues and/or friends may know something about the company culture or role or hiring manager. If they know the hiring manager directly, they may make a great reference to be added to your resume (just be certain that they have a solid relationship or else it could be a detriment as well)
There are many ways to creatively collect the intel that you need to build a focused resume. However, I would be remiss should I fail to include a warning against “stalking” your target company. Consider the consequences should your “research” get found out. Don’t do anything that you would be ashamed of should it be discovered what you’ve done to prepare for your candidacy. It is a small world and word will get around, meaning this could impact you beyond just this one job application. Also, both I and Eagle have a strict policy against people falsifying their resumes and/or fabricating work experience. You want to highlight relevant experience… NOT invent it.
Like many things in life, you get out what you put into it. By investing the time and effort to collect, write and categorize your life’s professional experiences you will be able to quickly create a customized resume to suit the job for which you are applying. By fully researching the companies, departments/teams and hiring managers, and by working hand-in-hand with your agency partner if there is one, you will see an improvement in the interest shown in your resumes. This increased focus will help to move your resume to the top 1/5th of the pile!
P.S. All the research and prep that you do up front will help to better prepare you for the actual interview process as well… bonus benefit!
If you have any great tips n tricks that you’d like to share, please include it in a response. I’m sure everyone would be glad to hear of it!