Friday, May 7, 2010

Top 3 Job Search Strategies To Set Yourself Apart

The job market may be improving slightly, but it's still ridiculously tough out there.

I often hear candidate frustration over hiring managers' extremely exacting criteria - criteria that seems impossible for any candidate to fulfill. It's not the employer's fault - there's an over supply of labor, so why not be picky from their point of view?

Often the reason for this frustration can be simplified to one of three major reasons:

  1. "Me too resumes" - Your resume looks the same as hundreds of competitors, making it impossible for you to stand out
  2. One size fits all resumes - Your fit may not be clear from the face of the resume
  3. "Stretch positions" - The candidate realistically can fulfill less than 90% of the criteria

Today's article describes 3 strategies to help you stand out from the crowd.

Create A Resume That Differentiates You

Your resume is probably the tool you use most in your job search. But after you've written it once, how much time do put into the document yourself. If you're like most job seekers, you don't change your resume much after writing it. Most candidates use a static resume and customize with a cover letter - not a very effective tactic when your market expects customization.

A customized resume is the single most effective thing you can do to increase your chances in job search. Few candidates know how to effectively customize their resume to gain hiring manager attention - because few of us were ever taught. There are a few specific ways to customize your resume that will have the greatest impact on your job search effectiveness.

Here's how to get the biggest resume bang for your buck:
  • Lose The Cover Letters: In I discuss how over 96% of hiring managers, HR reps and recruiters make their interview decision based on your resume, effectively ignoring your cover letter.
  • Fishing vs Response Resume: Fishing resumes (when you don't know the hiring company) and Response resumes (when you know who the hiring company is) are great frameworks for structuring your resume in a clear form, delivering information for each of your resume's 4 audiences to easily find what they are looking for (see:
  • Subject Matter Expertise: Many candidates consider themselves generalists, but in today's hyper competitive job market, few hiring managers hire for generalist skill sets - because they don't have to. Hiring managers today have the ability to micro target skill sets, and have a universe of thousands of competitors from which to choose - why would a hiring manager choose a generalist when they can find subject matter experts? As a candidate, your search is more effective if you communicate wheat you do better than anyone else, rather than concentrate all 50 things you can do (see:
  • Clear Branding Very few candidates do an effective job of clearly branding themselves in a brief sentence. Branding yourself concisely gives your audience a crystal clear idea of who you are and what problems you can solve for them. Create a relevant branding statement for your specific audience and you have a high probability of "hooking" their attention, and getting a through read (see:
  • Understand 3 things your next employer looks for: Can you solve my problems? How will you make money (or provide value if non-profit) for my company? Will you "fit"? See more details at
  • Have better information than your competitors: Most candidates wait until interview preparation to do much research. Those who do some research before sending a resume, on average spend less than 1/2 hour researching the company. The more information, and more non-public information you can gain about a company before sending a resume, the more likely your resume and communications will address the important issues the company, department, and hiring manager face. This gives the heavily researched candidate such a big advantage, because they can create the perception of being "the perfect candidate" (see: >

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