NEWS + ADVICE
Arrive Before Your Resume
Do you have a jagged resume?
Maybe some gaps in your work history, an unfinished college degree, career changes or a career path that shows some missteps? In other words, your resume is a little outside the perfect progression that many recruiters like to see?
We spoke with George Anders, author of Becoming a Rare Find, How Jagged Resumes Lead to Great Jobs at the fall recruitDC conference.
George shared how job seekers with jagged resumes can be successful by changing the rules. How those job seekers can capture the attention of employers who should be hiring them, and persuading the employers to see the job seekers on their own terms.
Some wisdom from George:
Fix What You Can
The first step is determining if you have gaps that you can fill in to overcome your weaknesses. Will certifications help? Coaching? A short-term assignment to deepen experience in a particular skill set? As a start, do what you can to close the loop on issues that can be fixed.
Arrive Before Your Resume
If your resume is a bit jagged, the key is to arrive before your resume. You need to make a personal impression and start a relationship before your resume takes you out of the game.
That means you’ve got to meet with people and connect vs. only submitting resumes online. Networking!
If you’ve got obstacles to overcome, networking and building relationships and trust with individuals is often critical for them to be willing to take a chance on you. This is especially true if you’re a cleared job seeker, where so many requirements are set in contracts.
The goal of arriving before your resume is to tap in to the hidden job market. As we know many jobs are filled before they are posted. George uses a real estate analogy. “Think of it as trying to rent an apartment. Get to know the landlord so you know the apartment is available before everyone else does.”
The Strength of Weak Ties
Job seekers often focus on their strongest connections. The downside of that is our strongest connections often have many of the same contacts that we do.
It may seem counterintuitive, but a focus on more casual acquaintances at the fringes of your network will provide contacts that are very different from your inner circle. That will expand your network and provide more opportunities.
Participate in Your Passions
Civic associations, non-profits, churches, places you volunteer. These are all excellent networking venues if you are truly committed to the group you join. This strategy can also be effective online, but try to focus on your passions. Where do people you want to work with hang out?
Target Smaller Companies and Startups
Target the companies you want to work for and then connect with the people who work there. Hiring managers, recruiters, whomever you can connect and make contact with that may be able to get you in the door. In defense contracting, employee referral programs are very important, so connecting with individuals who work at your targets can be a successful door opener.
George shared, “Focus on small companies that are more willing or more open to getting to yes. Consider start ups or companies trying to catch a break, rather than wildly successful companies that are already at the top.”
Don’t Let the Young Monopolize Adaptability
If you’re a worker of a certain age, you may have to work that much harder. Take courses. Add certifications. Volunteer for new projects. If you’re an older worker, demonstrate energy and adaptability. Network with your peers who will appreciate the flexibility you have shown through several decades in the workforce.
After all, you worked effectively before email and voicemail even existed!
Build a Positive Online Presence
We often think of our online profiles from a reputational bent – a recruiter may check me out to make sure I’m not doing inappropriate things. Change that thinking to building a positive and engaging online presence that focuses on highlighting your strengths and accomplishments. Utilize online tools to further your offline networking for your target companies and fringe contacts.
With every networking interaction remember the three P’s – be persistent, patient and polite.
If you have a jagged resume, Becoming a Rare Find, How Jagged Resumes Lead to Great Jobs will increase your chances of a successful job search.
George Anders is a contributing writer at Forbes, exploring issues related to talent, recruiting and innovation. He spent two decades as a top feature writer for the Wall Street Journal, where he was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. You can follow George on Twitter at @GeorgeAnders.