Did you realize that nearly all hiring managers pre-rank candidates before they’ve even interviewed one? If you’re the top candidate before interviews, then it’s basically your job to lose.
So how can you position yourself as the top candidate?
It takes a lot of planning, and you must take into account all 4 resume audiences — the database, HR, the hiring manager, and the hiring manager’s boss. (Check out the post on 4 audiences to see how to write for all your audiences.)
Why? If you don’t write for the database or HR, then your resume won’t see the light of day on the hiring manager’s desk. That will make it pretty tough to be the top candidate, or even a candidate at all.
However, let’s imagine you have successfully written for the database and HR, and your resume is now in the pile on the hiring manager’s desk for review. How do you get to the #1 spot on that pile before any hiring decision makers have talked to you?
Here are 6 tactics:
- Demonstrate achievements not management: Senior level managers forget that managers hire people to solve specific problems; rarely are people hired based on the number of people they have managed. Use active bullet points to demonstrate how you created employer value. State that you increased profits by X% by doing Y, Increased sales by X% by doing Y, Cut costs by X% by doing Y. If your major bullet points have verbs like “Managed”, “Led”, “Coordinated”, “Liased” you are shortchanging yourself because you have probably done much more value adding things in your career. Sure, many people haven’t gotten a position because they didn’t have sufficient management experience – but that’s often a nice way of saying, “We found someone we liked better”.
- Determine Target Company Problems and Goals: If you can demonstrate that you have already solved the problems that the company or manager has, you’re an early favorite candidate. Research everything about the company, but don’t focus on what happened in past company financials (unless you’re a CFO candidate). Focus on finding the problems that exist right now, or will occur in the next quarter. Draw inferences to guess how your target department and potential manager will be affected.
- Network to a problem: Here’s a fantastic way to use your personal network, LinkedIn network, Facebook network, etc. Most people network to find someone to ask for a job, and that’s often a low “ROI” activity. You can make much better use of your network by finding out what’s actually going on inside a company, and gaining insights about the people who will be interviewing you.
- Club your reader over the head: Once you have found out what’s important from your research and networking, construct bullet points to address those issues, and put them at the top of your resume. Bold specific words to reflect key words in the job description. Do not bold phrases. Bold individual words, rather than phrases, will make make a greater visual impact on the reader.
- Be the unique solution to the problem: Demonstrate how you have already solved the problems the company or manager faces. Illustrate how you are a Subject Matter Expert in solving their specific type of problem. Be the right person at the right time and right place.
- Communicate in their language: Use key words from the job description – the EXACT words. Don’t rephrase, because databases don’t understand rephrasing. More importantly, the job description, along with research, conversations, and networking can tell you how the company communicates. Pay attention to your research and conversations to pick up more key words, and to note the communications style. If you mirror the style in your resume, and include liberal servings of key words, you will have a recipe for being the top candidate before you ever step foot in the interview room.
So look at your resume….does it make you the top candidate?…