April 13, 2024
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April 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

How to be a Great Candidate for the Job You Want … On One Foot

Be LIKABLE, SMART and DETAIL ORIENTED … and do it all with dispatch. The rest is commentary.

Bear in mind, however, that commentary has multiple voices. Ten recruiters can suggest 12 different resume and job search strategies. Choose the one that resonates with you and kick it forward.

In addition to presentation, style and great, punchy cover letter sentences, candidates still need the requisite skills (or at least a majority of them) to be considered a strong candidate. Many highly-skilled individuals, however, are either too humble, too fearful, or simply don’t spend the time to make their presentation stand out. If the extra couple of hours spent on making your resume sing can successfully differentiate you from other candidates, go for it!

Having recruited for small manufacturers, large consumer packaged goods companies, and now, for the non-profit sector, I should note that in all arenas—whether hiring marketing managers, packaging engineers, administrative assistants or chief development officers—recruiters look for some basics to rule you in or out. (Again, ten recruiters can have 12 different takes on this).

Here are mine:

• LIKABILITY. Most appealing is someone interpersonally engaging and pleasant, and who we anticipate, will be liked by, and who will work well with, the client.

• SMARTS. If there are malapropisms, grammatical errors or a dull, predictable tonality in your communication, other candidates with a sharper presentation will easily nudge you out.

• DETAIL ORIENTED. I have received countless resumes with a top-line “objective” that is wildly different from the job at hand. The candidate either has poor attention to detail (or s/he would have adjusted that), or s/he is careless with other people’s time. Neither renders that person an appealing candidate. [Incidentally, an “objective” atop your resume is OUT now; instead use a short three or four line profile or summary. This functions as a brief enticing snapshot of who you are and what you offer in a concise, impressive and objective way.]

• DISPATCH. If the candidate does not respond promptly to the original posting, or to subsequent correspondences from the recruiter, other candidates will be considered first.

Every step in the recruitment process [resume, cover letter, verbal communication, email exchanges and in-person interview] is part of your audition, or a representation of how you will work once in a job. You provide a window into your character, style and work habits before you ever walk in the door.

10 Resume DON’Ts:

DON’T allow your email address to provide too much information. I would likely not consider cutecarla_gmail.com for a serious role, and Steve at Steve1962_yahoo.com has just told me his age.

DON’T put your name in 28 font size. It is not a marquee and you’re not starring in Gone with the Wind. Be appropriately subtle by featuring your name just slightly larger than your address and contact information. Even bold is okay.

DON’T put the word email before your email address in your contact information. This is a dead giveaway that the email generation is new to you or that you tread lightly on it. Likewise with the word telephone before your phone number. If the company is unable to distinguish your email from your phone number, you don’t want to work for them.

DON’T include an apartment/suite number. I guarantee that at this stage of the game, no one is mailing you anything. If you go further down the recruitment process and the company does in fact need to mail you some paperwork, there is plenty of time to provide that. The fact that you live in an apartment is too much demographic information to give away at this juncture.

DON’T use a resume template which indents almost all your text by 15-20 character spaces. You are losing (horizontally) about 20% of your space by doing so.

DON’T allow your resume or email communications to have any typos or grammatical errors. This is your first project for the company; if it is mediocre or has a mistake, you may not be considered for next steps.

DON’T allow your resume to be a job description with your name on top. A resume touts your accomplishments and successes and is not just a nicely laid out list of your responsibilities. “Responsibilities include” typically precedes a list of stuff you did. Not interesting. Your goal is to show the reader what makes YOU stand out in that role, not to provide a detailed description of the role. Use metrics; provide context by using statistics, percentages, geography in describing your accomplishments.

DON’T send a five-page resume, no matter what. One page if you have ten or less years’ experience and probably two pages for more than ten. These rules are not set in stone, of course, and can vary by situation, but be sparing of the amount of reading time you are asking of the recruiter. If your job from 1989 features a lot of specifics, re-think the level of relevance. Don’t force-feed the reader the fine detail of a job you did 20+ years ago. It is likely irrelevant.

DON’T stretch the truth on your education. If you are shy of a BA, indicate the school and your focus, but if you don’t have the degree—even if just a few credits short—do not indicate completion. When background checks are run, it is not like horseshoes; either you have it or you don’t. Many companies will absolutely keep you in the running despite no degree.

Whatever you do, DON’T end your resume with “References available on request.” Are you not going to provide them if they are requested? Conversely, do not send unsolicited references without being requested to do so.

Sandra is an HR professional with extensive recruitment experience in the consumer packaged goods, manufacturing and non-profit sectors. She can be reached at SandraOirich_Gmail.com

Sandra Leshaw Oirich

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