Dear Sam: I have applied for more jobs than I ever thought I would. I read the job postings and the requirements and I clearly meet what the employer is seeking. Why am I not getting so much as an initial screening call? Help! - Jason
Dear Sam: I have applied for more jobs than I ever thought I would. I read the job postings and the requirements and I clearly meet what the employer is seeking. Why am I not getting so much as an initial screening call? Help! — Jason
Dear Jason: There are many reasons an employer may not be calling. Have you considered the following?
Are you the most qualified candidate?
Remember being qualified does not necessarily mean you are the most qualified. Reading the requirements for a role, as presented in a job posting, can be misleading as oftentimes employers list the minimum requirements for the role, almost like the prerequisite for the job.
What you really should pay attention to is the actual job description. The job description — the overview of what you would be doing in the role — is more of an indicator of the experience you need in order to be seen as qualified. With higher-than-average unemployment levels, we have a saturated candidate pool, which at times, means employers will likely have someone applying for the role that has come from a similar position.
When this is the case, especially when you are transitioning or moving into something slightly different than what you have done in the past, you must show the transferability of your skills by speaking the language of the roles you will be performing, not the minimum qualifications being sought.
To judge whether you are truly a qualified candidate, check if you can speak the language of the functions you would be expected to perform in the role. Simply possessing the minimum prerequisite requirements likely will not cut it.
Target your candidacy
While I know candidates want to keep their options open, we only need one career position. Targeting your candidacy is critical to achieving maximum resume effectiveness. Be sure your resume is telling one story, creating an aligned picture of your skills, experiences and abilities. The content of your resume, wherever possible, should speak the language of the functions you would perform in your target positions.
This is where understanding the true qualifications desired is very important as this is the story you need to tell on your resume. Read through job postings of interest to get a sense of the skills, experiences and abilities employers are seeking in candidates like you.
Use this insight to feed your resume with keywords conveying that you possess the right mix of experience, skills and education. Using the right keywords is imperative if you want to be seen as a competitive candidate.
Hang your hat on what makes you unique
Too many candidates think certain skills or educational credentials make them unique. Actually, experience is more often than not what truly makes one unique. Think about it, the degree you hold, while important, is going to check the box for an employer and may be a qualification the majority of other applicants also possess.
Likewise, certain skills and abilities will likely be claimed widely in the candidate pool, once again creating an even playing field. However, no other candidate can claim the same exact experience as you, at least when it comes to presenting your key contributions or accomplishments. Be sure to focus your attention on highlighting what differentiates your candidacy.
Create a strong and compelling resume
Paying attention to the content and keywords on your resume — as well as the format — is the recipe for success. Be sure your resume is aesthetically pleasing, balanced on the page and does not succumb to formatting incompatibilities — font substitutions, margin changes, etc. — on recipients’ computers.
If you are not naturally creative, glean inspiration for a uniquely formatted resume through an online search or quick review of resume books at the library.
Samantha Nolan is a certified professional résumé writer and owner of Ladybug Design, a leading résumé-writing firm. Do you have a résumé or job-search question for Dear Sam? Reach Samantha at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more about Sam’s résumé-writing services, visit www.ladybug-design.comor call (614) 570-3442 or 1-888-9-LADYBUG (1-888-952-3928).