Advice to Candidates: When your great resume just isn’t enough

There has been quite a response to my last blog post, “Advice to Hiring Managers: A great candidate is more than their resume,” with most respondents sharing their own experience with hiring managers being slow to hire for open positions due to a perceived glut of highly qualified candidates.   I thought I would give some suggestions for those of you who are struggling to close deals with reluctant hiring managers.

Here goes –

  • Resume as a marketing document – Most of the time it is your resume that will get you in the door.  The important thing to remember is that even though your resume needs to communicate what you have done and are capable of, it is important to stay away from simply listing your job responsibilities and speak instead to accomplishments where your skills are implied.  I wrote a piece on getting your resume noticed which has more in depth information on writing an exceptional resume.
  • It is who you know – If responding to job postings is your only method of job searching you are missing out on opportunities and the chance to have your resume get more attention.  Networking is absolutely key – providing you with more openings (sometimes before they even hit the job boards).  More importantly, your contacts will give you valuable information on what companies look for in an interview.  For those of you who are not networking as a part of your job search – start immediately.  A LinkedIn account is a critical first step.  Do searches on companies where you would like to work.  As your network grows, the likelihood that someone in your network is connected to an employee of the companies you are targeting will increase.  Reach out to those contacts and ask their advice and perspective.  If you have an interview these contacts will be invaluable sources of information as to what is looked for during interviews.  If you are looking to be hired, your contacts will have access to internal company posting.  Yes approaching a stranger is daunting , but remember, a quick call or e-mail saying, “You and I have a mutual LinkedIn connection – could your spare 2 minutes for some advice on getting a position at your company?” doesn’t hurt at all.  In my experience more people than not will offer assistance to a mutual contact.
  • Shore up what you don’t know – If there are skills on the job description that you possess but are not currently listed on your resume think of adding them for that particular job.  If you do not have the skill make sure your resume mentions any transferable skills.  Your resume should be tailored to each job you are applying for.  Each job is unique – your resume should match.
  • Over-prepare for the interview – Studying the company and job description is simply not enough.  Take time to familiarize yourself with different interview methodologies, what is looked for and how to answer questions.  If you are not absolutely clear on what is being looked for in an interview question you can’t provide the answer.  If you know what is being looked for you have a greater chance of providing the right answer.  I have written quite a few posts on interviewing – which you can find at The Knowledge Center on the Wall Street Services website.
  • Make a deal – Finally, if you interview and find that a hiring manager is reluctant to pull the trigger, try to find the source of the trepidation and address it.  If they are not sure you are a cultural fit – or will not learn the technology needed in a timely manner – offer to take on the position on a trial basis as a consultant.  Look to identify creative and out-of-the-box solutions – at this point you have nothing to lose and a job to gain.

I know it is rough out there – don’t lose faith.

Peter Laughter

CEO, Wall Street Services