How many times do we
send out a resume, whether by mail or email, only to receive the all-too-common
HR form letter "We have your resume on file, should a position arise
matching your capabilities, someone will contact you."
right! More likely, the letter should read, "we just threw your
resume in the trash, or filed it in some neglected cabinet in our human
resources department that never gets opened except for once a year
cleaning. We'll contact you on a snowy day in summer." That
reply is more truthful, from my experience, because when that letter is received it
nets an interview a whopping .01% of the time. Disheartening?
Sure, if you follow the "masses approach" to job-hunting. What approach is
that? Send out your resume blindly to a list of companies you know nothing
about. Then call the general switchboard on the telephone and ask the
operator if they received your resume, then get
transferred to Human Resources, who says "don't call us, we'll call
you." I call that path a mirage, as it appears to be the path of
least resistance and the path of typical success; yet, in reality the blind
resume/H.R. path offers you the most
resistance and least chance of success.
Rather than follow
mirages, through utilizing the techniques in this article you can quickly
jump-start your career, get the interview you seek, with the company you want to
work for, and move your resume to the top of the stack.
First, a resume is not
the key to selling you to most people, because 90% of the jobs are won through the power of
networking (see: Better Networking).
It is YOU (yes, you, your own self) who gets the job. People get to know
you through other people who know who you are! It's not just who you know, but who you know who knows who. So, we'll
discuss the resume next to LAST and the power of NETWORKING FIRST. Always use
your network to job-hunt, unless you're trying to discretely search. In that
case, be smart about who you tell that you're hunting. Here are some of my
#1: Pick a list of
companies who appeal to my (a) desired job potential, (b) earnings potential,
(c) personal value system. I pray and meditate about this
list and then narrowing it down to the most qualified companies for me to work
for. The reason I say this is not to preach, but because I'm a firm
believer in incorporating our spiritual self fully into our work
life. To focus purely on the intellectual self ignores the primary
force of who we are. By focusing on our intuition, we can guide our job search to
those employment opportunities most likely to fulfill us -- logically,
emotionally, physically, AND spiritually. So, if we want complete
job fulfillment, it is wise to set the intention, and start with a good list of
companies that match our own personal criteria. So get a list. With the list,
you can build a plan. The list ought to have about twenty names on it.
That's all. If you truly know in your gut who you'd like to work with,
then you won't need more than twenty.
plan is to determine who
I know at each of these companies on my list. If I don't know anyone, then I need to
get to know someone. Not just anyone, but people who can influence the hiring
manager. This might mean joining networking organizations, such as RYZE (www.ryze.com)
and LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com), or Commonwealth Organizations, or
a Chamber of Commerce, or any other
organization featuring leaders in power, such as Rotary. If you don't know who or where
these people are, do a search
listing on the company name and their donations to various charities. Get
creative. For example, if a manager at Xerox gave to the American Cancer Society,
and I want to get into Xerox, then I want to know who at Xerox gave the
money. It's fairly likely that the local American Cancer Society
chapter representative might know who. From there, I'm off and running,
as it is the power of networking in action, and I can then say that "Sally
Gentry from ACS referred me to you" -- a warm lead, versus a cold
lead. The goal here is to take each networking lead and turn it into a
warm introduction versus a cold call. Think of any way possible to
get to know people who work at the company, and then creatively find ways to get
to know them, in a friendly and honest way. This action goes beyond what
95% of all other job applicants will do, and this step is far more likely to get you in the door than
any cover letter you could ever write. Remember, it is not who you know, necessarily,
but who you know who knows who. Beyond that, a unique approach usually begets a
#3: Form (and
write) a plan of
action. How can you get your information in front of the decision maker
where it will get read? As I write this I can think of one possible
approach. Send the hiring manager a hand-written invitation to
dinner. I bet only .0001% of the population utilizes this job-hunting
tactic. Invite them to a bar-b-que. Try to invite them to things
where you can shine. Try anything where you get a
chance to show your personality, and then casually discuss skills and why they
will benefit from hiring you, is more likely to get you hired than just sending
Human Resources a resume. At the very least, send them something that will
make them remember you. Perhaps, an example of your work? Remember, the key to your plan of action is to
DIFFERENTIATE! If you need to be different (stand out) from the pack, you
must ACT in a DIFFERENT WAY. Have fun by getting more creative.
Instead of sending a letter by mail, send it express mail. How many
times do people toss aside regular mail? Often. How often do they
toss aside a $14.00 Fed Ex? Hardly ever. So send your introduction
letter in a unique way. After all, you're not mass-mailing thousands of
companies, you're only targeting ten to twenty.
interview. These tips will help secure a successful
a) Research each person you might interview: their role, what they
will look for, what they need to know about you to be impressed and want to work
with you, and how they interrelate with the hiring manager. Some of them
will serve as screeners, others as key influencers, and others as peers. I've
had Senior Vice Presidents and CEO's rubber stamp hiring decisions. So, be
prepared for anyone. You must make a good impression upon each or you may lose the job opportunity to someone
else. I once cleared seven interviews with Ernst & Young, only to be
rejected on the eighth interview. I missed the needs of the person I'd be
working most closely with: the accounting partner, and in missing I lost the job
opportunity. So do your research. Be consistent in your message to each,
yet vary what you tell each of them enough so that they know you are not
b) Dress VERY WELL for the job. Look your part. Be
well-pressed, with polished shoes, styled hair, and dress a notch above the
dress code for the job you seek. Be smart, too. If you're interviewing to be a
contractor, would you show up in a suit, or with a tool belt around your
waist? Consider your environment carefully and dress the part. You might
consider pre-screening the office you're interviewing at during their
lunch hour. In one hour you can see how people dress at the office and
give yourself an idea what to wear.
c) Speak clearly, with confidence, hold your head high. One trick I
use is to shout "YES!" and pump my fist in the air (out of
sight of the employer, of course), to get myself SMILING and pumped up for the
interview. It is a physical/emotional state that you can create by simply
pumping yourself up. Hiring managers like to hire enthusiastic people who
demonstrate high energy.
d) Bring extra copies of your resume. I can't remember how many
times the hiring manager (and peers) failed to have my resume on hand.
And, if a recruiter had faxed my resume, how much better did my letterhead
resume look than the fax copy? So, bring extra. Being properly
prepared is one of the top five reasons why people will hire you.
e) Bring examples of your work. I cannot state the importance of
this enough. I've had more than one manager tell me that I am a master of
presentations and the "lost art" of proposal writing. Nice
compliments. Now, I could "tell" my hiring manager this, or I
could SHOW them. Which would have the most impact? Don't
underestimate the power of your work. Often, people need to see it to
believe it. So SHOW them the quality of your work. Teachers put together a
portfolio of work to demonstrate how they might interact with their
classes. Why not utilize this technique in other industries? If you have
reference letters, award certificates, examples of (good) writing, or
other things that would show what type of employee you would be, then you
ought to showcase this to your potential employer.
f) Be courteous to everyone (especially the receptionist). It should go without saying, but the
person who greets you by telephone and walks you back to the meeting is one of
the most important screeners you meet. When I interview potential
candidates, I always ask the office administrator what he/she thinks of
the candidate. Why? Because they see the candidate when their guard is
down. My advice: keep your guard up and be polite to everyone you interact
with at the potential hiring firm.
g) Ask intelligent questions. If you can't think of any to ask, do
more research with the thought process, "how can I help them?"
and "what might they need?" and "what are they
missing?" By asking questions that others don't ask, you show you are
prepared and demonstrate your ability to think. Hiring managers like employees
who can think creatively. This is the most important part of the
interview. So, have some questions you might ask written down in your notepad,
prior to the interview, so that when you reach this point you are prepared
to ask something pertinent to the position or the firm.
h) I believe in reverse psychology interviewing. What do I mean by
that? Well, most people approach their interview from a reactive
standpoint. They answer questions, they try to show and say whatever the
interviewer needs to see and hear. Instead of taking that approach, try
the proactive approach. Have a list of questions, written down ahead of
time, with key points to make for each interviewer. Ask them questions
that will illuminate the information YOU NEED TO KNOW to truly know if this is
the company and job that will intellectually, emotionally, physically, and
spiritually fulfill you. Also, make sure to lead them to talk about money
first. Whoever mentions money first loses in negotiations, so you want them
to talk about money before you do. Most interviewers are pleasantly surprised when they find out you
did your homework, you care about your career so much that you chose them, that
they are far more likely to find a way to hire you.
Use your intuition. Most CEO's will state that they made their most
important decisions based upon their "gut feel" or
"instincts". These are creative phrases for intuition. Intuition
is your number one most valuable asset, next to your ability to think and
listen, so use it. Trust that inner voice during the interview
process. This will help you stay calm and in control. If your intuition
says, "I won't like working here" then don't accept their offer
or even ask for one. We don't shine when we don't enjoy our work, and this
process is all about loving our work and loving our life.
j) Ask for the job, with confidence. I don't mean
to imply you want the
job. I mean directly SAY "I want this job! This job has my name all over
it. Here's why:" Then list reason x, y, and z, even if
you already told them those things during the interview. It will reinforce
the message you want to leave as you exit the interview. This is such a
critical step, if you fail to ask for the job, you likely will not get it.
Yet, we often get what we ask for, so ask for it, and then smile as they respond
favorably to you.
k) When you exit the interview, make some notes for follow-up. What three
points did you just tell the interviewer were reasons to hire you? Make
sure you remember.
Follow-up. When you get back to your home office, put these three bullets
in a follow-up letter and send it out the same day. Follow-up is the #1
most important reason people get hired. The manager who hired me from
college hired me largely because I had the best follow-up skills. That,
and he liked me because his sister went to the same school I did and he
liked that school. He saw me as a younger version of him.
resume. Let's take a closer look at the resume. One company we have
targeted in our search may receive over 100 resumes for just one job
listing. Your resume must stand out from the other 100. How can we make our resume rise to the top of the stack?
a. Is your name
the biggest thing on the page? It doesn't have to be. Just make
sure that your name, phone number, email, and address are clearly formatted at
b. How well does
your resume speak of you? Is your personality in the resume, or does it
sound like so many other resumes. For example:
resulting in 30% cost savings" might look attractive to the typical resume
writer. To me, it stinks like a garbage dump. Why?
> Organized WHAT budget? This is vague.
> 30% cost savings TO WHO? Again, this is vague and could be
> What is the BENEFIT to the person who will HIRE YOU?
A better statement would
finance manager by reorganizing marketing budget to create 3x as much public
relations exposure, with 30% less marketing budget expenditure." Now
we know WHO it helped, WHAT you did, and WHY it might matter to the hiring
manager, by stating the benefit. In the interview, they'll then be more
likely to ask HOW you did this. Be prepared with the detail to
answer, in BENEFIT terms to the COMPANY or YOUR BOSS or YOUR CUSTOMER, how what
you did truly helped your company. This is the power of a resume in
Every line in your
resume needs to be put to the test: Ask the following questions:
this paragraph or group of paragraphs be stated more simply?
WHAT did I do here that mattered, TO WHO, and WHAT BENEFIT did it present to my
* What do I want the interviewer to ask me to slant the interview to my
strengths and best contributions that most closely relate to the job I'm
getting at is you MUST know the benefit TO THEM. Period. Anything else is fluff.
how to figure it out? Try this technique: with
EVERY KEY EMPLOYER you list on your resume, get out a tape recorder, have it
ready to hit record... then ask yourself this question, as if you are the
interviewer asking the question to you, "if I asked this company why, in
one sentence, should I hire YOU, what would your former manager tell me?" Then hit
record. Record only for one minute. Now, play the recording
back. Listen carefully to your answer. I find that almost 90% of the
time, our first sentence is the sentence that we need to capture on the
resume. THAT is our true personality, not all that other mumbo
jumbo. Try it, and see if it doesn't help. At first, it may feel
awkward, because we aren't trained to put our true personality into our
resume. I've seen time and time again where someone will answer honestly,
from their gut, when I ask that question. Then they think about it, and answer
in the way they think is "correct" according to the resumes they've
seen or heard about. The second answer is usually what most people put on their
resume. My advice is to put the first response on it. Why? It's honest. It's
real. It's who you are. As you hear what you said first said back to you through
the recorder, you'll realize it truly is the statement
that best captures what you did for that company.
As for the final draft
of your resume, make sure to save some information
for the interview. Often, the information people list is just too much
detail, which needs to be shared during the interview. Think of it like
this: if the purpose of the resume is to get them to ask you questions,
which questions do you want them to ask you, and what do you want to say when
you answer? This is your time to BRAG, yes, BRAG about how GREAT YOU
ARE. It is one of the few times in life people get to hear it like
this. I do not mean be overly cocky. But ALWAYS present your skills
in their VERY BEST LIGHT.
Every statement should
indicate a BENEFIT to HIRING YOU over someone else. Why? Because 100
people may be applying for the same job you are. And you want them to
offer YOU the job.
Make sure your resume is
formatted well, without spelling or grammatical errors. These sloppy
problems tend to make people think your work will also be sloppy.
Keep your resume to one
page or less, if you can. Yes, maybe you have worked for ten companies.
Then list the most recent and keep the others to a simple line or two. I
consider writing a resume a challenge to my writing skills - with the goal being
the ability to convey the most IMPORTANT THING I did at EACH COMPANY in as few
and powerful words as possible. Try it, and make a game of it. It
makes the process of writing a resume more fun. I once had a human resource
manager at Dell ask me to list more information. They were looking for
specific information, so I gave it to them. Use common sense with this and
also make sure to list professional associations on your resume. Why?
Associations show that you do more than work. They show you CARE. Along
that same thought, if you're female, don't say you're a mother. This says
you'll put your kids above your job. Of course you will. But you don't
want to say it here. I prefer things like "Rotary, American Marketing
Association, American Cancer Society" and so forth. Use the
organizations and charities you work for and donate time and money to and
you'll have the right list. If you KNOW they donate to a particular
charity, send the charity some money, then list them, too. People like
people who like things they like. Familiarity is good during interviews
and familiarity on resumes builds bonds or gives them pleasant things to
talk to you about. Just make sure you have solid facts behind everything
on that paper!
More on following-up: after the
interview, send a
personally signed letter to the decision maker. Do not send an
email, no matter how busy you are, because everyone else, if they follow-up,
does this. Instead, send a personally signed letter (on your resume paper
for consistency). Follow the letter up
with a phone call timed two days after your letter should arrive.
Following that schedule enables the law of timing to work for you. In both the letter and the phone call, offer an idea of
how you can contribute to the hiring manager's organization. As a general
rule of sales, I always made it a point to call/visit/write with something of
VALUE - important also to the person buying from me. This rule also
applies in job-hunting. This is follow-up that 90% of your competition
neglects, and has been single-handedly the top reason I won more than two of my
best jobs during my career.
How important is your
time? If you waste time (either your time or the prospective employer's
time) during the interview process, either through the resume process, the
submission, the interview, or the follow-up, then you've shot yourself in
the foot. How much more successful could you make your interviewing process if
you simply followed these steps to put your resume on the top of the stack and
get that job offer you always wanted? Go after it -- there is all the
opportunity in the world for those who demonstrate creative thought and
different ways of being great. Ask for what you want. Be clear, be
professional, and accept the job you will love the most. Happy hunting!
Learn more about the business challenges we're helping
Andrews is CEO and Founder of AspireNow (www.AspireNow.com),
a leading business productivity and personal development firm based in
California. AspireNow recently spun our business solutions into ARRiiVE
Business Solutions (www.ARRiiVE.com)
through whom we help organizations launch new products and services,
maximize sales, and innovatively change businesses through
semantic collaboration business models and processes. For more
information, contact info@ARRiiVe.com.