All I need are job openings and a great resume and I’ll be in good shape!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that. Let’s explore what employers really look for and why simply possessing a good resume often isn’t enough.
Employers look for a combination of competency and culture fit. They need to know you’re likely to do a good job, but they also want a comfort level with your personality.
Think about it for a moment. We’ve all worked with someone who is highly skilled, but difficult to deal with. We’ve also worked with someone who’s great to be around, but lacks the skills/knowledge to perform their job at even an average level.
Back to the resume for a moment. Assuming you’ve customized it to align with the job posting, you’ve only attempted to address the competency piece. But how can you address the culture component, especially if you haven’t been called in for an interview? I’ll get to that in a minute. Let’s first look at tips for customizing your resume.
Assuming an employer doesn’t know you personally and you weren’t recommended by someone they know, your resume/application is simply just one among many sitting in their inbox. I know your family thinks you’re special, but can you expect an employer to pick you from the pile of hundreds of others who’ve also customized their resume?
Customizing means incorporating the key words (functions, processes, acronyms, industry jargon) from the job description into your resume, especially in the summary section beneath your name, phone, email, etc. That helps address their interest in knowing you’ve been exposed to what they do. But even that’s not enough.
Citing accomplishments, ideally quantifying them, helps create a sense you’re very good at what you do. Between key words and achievements, you’ve given yourself your best shot at addressing the competency component.
Back to the culture fit. Theoretically, employers have a number of qualified candidates in their stack, you being one of them.
All it takes is for someone the employer knows to mention that you’ve applied and to encourage the employer to take a second look at your application. We’ll call that person your advocate. In most all cases that’ll at least get the employer to pull your name out and, unless your resume is way off base, you’ll get an initial interview.
You see, anything… even a gentle nudge from someone the employer knows… is typically enough to help address the culture fit, at least initially. Their assumption is you’re probably a decent person, otherwise your advocate wouldn’t have mentioned your name in the first place.
In future articles I’ll discuss how to use LinkedIn and other networking tactics to identify that advocate. Remember, simply loading your resume with key words isn’t enough. Addressing the culture component is your ace in the hole when it comes to getting that initial interview!