In Part I of this 3-part series I shared how found my interview “rhythm” and started tripling my interviews and callbacks despite the economy and ageism. This upswing sure beats hearing dead silence, facing black holes, and receiving non-descript auto-generated rejection emails. Can you relate?
By customizing my resumes, embedding the right key words, and applying for jobs closer to my abilities, the sky turned blue and the possibilities seem endless. Finally I feel like I can hit a home run and I want the same for you.
It’s much more fun hitting the ball than your head against your desk. If you’re in the hunt, here is the “pine tar” I started applying to my bat that has tripled my interviews and clinched my spot in the second, third, or fourth rounds, three out of five times. Not a bad batting average when competing against 200 to 800 candidates. I’m sure you’re in the same “cage” in this economy with the high unemployment rates.
Want to make it into the short-stack of contenders? Elevate your attitude and do these things.
Take Your Resume to the Next Level Visually
Through proper care and feeding, I look considerably younger than I am (thank you Mom & Dad). This is a competitive advantage worth exploiting if you too look more MTV than Lawrence Welk. (Note to self: ageism is in play, so get a facial, makeover, cover the gray, and hire a stylist if necessary).
I used a free online service called VisualCV. VisualCV’s templates allow you to breathe life and personality into your CV through a professional photo, links to your portfolio, awards, references, even video.
Don’t just snap a photo from your iPhone. Spend the money to get a professional in studio, well-lit and well touched up photograph. Yes have them Photoshop off some of the signs of aging, it’s ammo that’s worked well for me.
The phone started ringing immediately when I switched from a boring Word template to VisualCV. (Note: Keep a duplicate copy of the contents of this resume in a word processing document to cut and paste into online forms. Online forms won’t parse the VisualCV document well and you’ll confuse online screening systems).
Avoid TMI (Too Much Information)
Employer interest and callbacks skyrocketed when I cut my resume in half (left off my earliest positions from the 1990 era). HR is only interested in your past decade of experience. Anything before that is irrelevant in today’s workforce. Plus you no longer look ancient to the Gen-Xers who are probably screening your application.
Remove your graduation dates, too. You don’t have to disclose them and it hurts you if you do.
Dare them “Not” to Interview you in your Cover Letter
In the beginning, I was lazy. Sometimes I included a cover letter in my electronic submission and sometimes I didn’t. Shame on me and shame on you if you’re doing the same thing.
When you’ve applied for work for months (for some years), it feels like your sending your application into outer space, but I can assure you a strong cover letter gets ET’s or rather HR’s attention.
Put on your big girl panties and tell them why you’re a match. Don’t oversell but pour on the confidence backed by recent coups. The more frustrated I got, the stronger my cover letters became. Results followed.
Granted you’ll have to read their website, reread the job description three times until you fully understand the companies pains and challenges so you can speak to it in your voice with solutions. You’re work will be rewarded with a chance to sell yourself face to face
Give Human Resources What They Want
They don’t want smarter, faster, better, HR people want just right. Not too green, not too qualified, but just right. This was the hardest lesson for me to learn.
I was devastated last week when I didn’t get a second interview for a job I could have performed in my sleep. I was so astonished I even called HR and ask why I was eliminated because it was asinine. Betty bureaucrat (yes it was a governmental group) was almost argumentative and told me she didn’t have to tell me a thing and that they had decided to move forward with better candidates.
She obviously had her lawsuit radar up for not sharing any helpful feedback to me. This is the lesson for you. Companies want a low-risk, just-right, cheaper side of the salary range person to fill the spot.
If you’re a superstar in your industry and could do the job above the job you’re applying for, don’t waste your time (or theirs).
In Part III of this series, I’ll discuss what to wear, what to say, and what to leave behind to show you mean business.
Please share this on your Facebook if you have friends in the hunt!
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Category: Career & Money