In my opinion, as a recruiter and former job-seeker myself, the best way to look at a job hunt is to think about your search from a sales person’s perspective, and the product you’re selling is yourself.
If you think about what it takes to be successful in sales, it comes down to being able to show the buyer why they NEED a product, not why they MIGHT need it. A salesman will always explain the unique features of the product that distinguishes it from others, how it’s been able to benefit past customers, how it can be especially useful in certain situations, and why it’s the best version on the market. This correlation between a sales pitch and a job application can be identified easily, but one piece that shows the most resemblance to a tangible product stands out – and that is the resume.
For decades, there has been a general ‘template’ for what every employer will expect on a resume, and this basic format has become almost a necessity for it to be considered legitimate. Below is an example of what a very basic resume should look like and include – if you are building a resume from scratch, this is a valuable reference for establishing what I call a, “Base Resume”.
The reason I refer to this as a “Base Resume” is because once it’s filled in, this is not the document you will send out when applying, but the ‘base’ document you will edit to fit each position. It’s always best to try to limit the length of a resume to around 1 page for simplicity, but then how could you ever include all the experience and value you’ve accumulated in your career? It’s simply impossible. This is where your Base Resume becomes important; with each position you go after, you will pick and choose which experience is the most valuable to that company and edit it your resume to show exactly what the employer will want to see. It can be very tedious, but applying for jobs is not a short and simple process – it’s a job in itself. Every open position is different, and every one requires different qualifications. To come off as a promising candidate it all comes down to researching the job you want and highlighting your most fitting skills and experience on your resume.
To better explain what I mean, lets use an example — say John wants to apply for an IT company that services people in home. John currently has 3 past positions on his Base Resume, all having to do with remote IT work. He is obviously qualified, has the experience in this field, and is ready to work, but the company he’s applying for is highly recognized for customer service — making sure every customer loves the employee who comes to their house is the number one priority. John only has positions on his resume that require no customer communication skills, so what will he do? Open up his Base Resume that he has saved, and simply modify it to include his two years in the restaurant business that he had originally thought would be invaluable.
The situation above is only an example, but is applicable to almost every single job application in some way. John did his research, saw what this company wants in their employees, and modified his resume to show he’s not only qualified to do the work, but he has the experience with customers as well. John could be an absolute expert with technology, but what sold him to his new company was the fact that he had a completely separate skill set listed on his resume that directly applies to their mission. Without taking the time to find out information on this company and changing his resume to meet their needs, John’s chances of getting the job would have been slashed heavily.
So what you can gather from this is, even if your Base Resume seems on point, there will always be something you can add in or take out to tailor it directly toward a specific job. A big part of increasing your chances of placement is doing your due diligence, learning what it takes to be the best candidate, learning what that business values in its employees, then reshaping your resume to meet and exceed these needs.