Your resume or CV is your gateway for landing jobs. In most cases, you apply by submitting your resume. If you do not have a job, second to networking with the right people, updating your resume is the most important thing you can do. It is worth spending a lot more time than you already have. But what is wrong with your resume? Why does nobody contact you after you have applied.
The Mindset of Hiring Managers
When I did not know what goes on behind the scenes, I was so upset with not getting any responses from the employers that I started believing that most of the job postings are fake. But that is not true. Unfortunately, in the field of Accounting and Finance, despite many open vacancies, the number of applicants for each job is usually very high. As a result the only option left with the hiring managers, whether from Finance or HR function, is to quickly skim through the resumes and shortlist candidates. Do you know what this means? This means they are looking to eliminate candidates first before they start really going through the resumes in more detail to see if the candidate is the right fit. This is why tailoring your resume to each job posted is so important. Here are my 3 tips on tailoring your resume that will make it stick, and lead to an interview call.
1) Be Selective
Let me suggest to you here that despite your keenness on landing any and every job interview, you need to be selective as well. Just like the hiring managers, you should be able to eliminate jobs postings that do not seem relevant to your experience. Guard your energy level when applying for jobs. From the available list of job postings you should be able to short list jobs that you think are at least a 75% match with your experience and skills. I am not saying that you do not apply on job postings that are under 75% match, they can be part of your second round, once you are caught up with all the 1st grade matches. In the world of abundant applicants, quality and uniqueness is the key.
2) First things First
Once you have identified the jobs, read the description slowly and try to create a mental picture of what the role looks like. What are the challenges that the current employers are facing? What would be there ideal candidate for this role? Then start listing the experience, skills and achievements that match the requirement. Make sure to list the most important skills for the job first. The first few seconds of reading your resume are the most crucial so that you do not become part of the elimination list. If they read the first few lines of your resume, chance that they will read the rest of it increases dramatically, and so do the chances of you being called for interview.
3) Add examples, stats and numbers
Once you have the mental picture of the job requirements, you know exactly which of your experiences, skills and examples you need to highlight early in your resume so that it lights up the tired eyes of your recruiters or hiring managers. For example, if the role is related to the manufacturing industry, and you have worked for a manufacturing company as well as a retail and and a service firm, you know they will be most interested in your manufacturing experience. I can even predict that if you get an interview call, they will be asking questions mostly about your time and experience in the manufacturing company.
So, you need to highlight the same experience. Your resume will be heavy on your manufacturing experience. Not only that, even your experience details for retail and service industry should highlight skills that are similar to, or transferable to the manufacturing industry. Add numbers and details. If you helped the company save costs. Don’t just say that! Mention how you did that and how much cost you saved. For example you can state on your resume; “helped save $300,000 by identifying vendor billing errors over a period of three months” (true story by the way!). It does not really matter if the amount is small. It shows that you care and are always looking to add value to your organization which makes you stand out from the crowd. If you got promoted quickly, mention that. If you received a special award or recognition for your performance, mention that. Whatever is true and can make you stand out without sounding overly arrogant, you should include in your resume with examples and numbers.
4) Always include a carefully written cover letter
I have never submitted a resume without a cover letter. Even if the job posting clearly asks for a two page resume, my two page resume will always be followed by a cover letter. Ideally, the cover letter should be the first page the hiring managers or recruiters should see. A well written cover letter can make all the difference. Generally, the resume is very rigid and restricted in the quantity and type of information you can include in it.
A cover letter can take the form of a conversation though and that is where lies its power. I do not recommend the cover letter being longer than a single page. But you can summarize your most important strengths and skills, directly related to the job in the cover letter. The cover letter should be written in such a way that if someone does not even read your resume, they know what you bring to the table. This does not mean you summarize all your skills, experience and qualifications on the cover letter. The cover letter is all about exactly what you have determined to be the most important skills and experience required based on reading the job posting. Use formatting such as bold and italics to guide the eye of the recruiter to the most important and interesting facts about you.
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In order to make the cover letter stand out, I have often included remarks, or comments received during my previous employments. For example, once while I was a Senior Financial Analyst, the CFO of the organization remarked, “you have raised the bar in the FP&A department”. Guess what? this phrase is a permanent fixture, typed in bold format, in all of my cover letters. By doing this, the reader gets intrigued and likes to read more on the cover letter. Once you have there attention for 15 seconds, you are probably off of their elimination list and the likelihood of them calling you for interview also increases significantly. You can also include similar statements or remarks in your cover letter, as long as they are true.
I hope these 4 tips that I have shared with you will help you significantly in getting your dream job quickly, as they helped me when I first learnt and applied them. Leave a comment and let me know about your experience.
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