If you are a job seeker, you understand the job market is hostile. You have the talents and resources to bring value to your next employer.
In fact, you were one of the top managers for your last employer that specialized in maintenance for industrial central heating units.
The only problem is that you are a job seeker in Phoenix, Arizona…and it’s July.
When surveyed, a group of entrepreneurs listed “timing” as the most important element for a successful business.
In many ways, every job seeker is a mini-startup. This might seem daunting for our central heating engineer in the middle of the Sonoran desert and, unless Maricopa County is due for an ice age, this candidate will be lost at sea.
Here is a simple fact about job seeking
Locations and hiring trends will change. Any attempt to stop that change is foolish. Still, there are a few things the average job seeker can do to suit their proverbial sail to the direction of the wind.
This is not a case of fluffing up resumes to get work
This is neither about fluffing a resume nor is it about touting skills you don’t actually have. This is how someone who blows hot air can highlight his or her strengths to get a foothold in a hostile job climate.
1. Take a good look at your resume
This is a reality check for most job seekers regardless of the stage of their careers.
For some, that resume is nothing more than a list of employers. Instead, a resume should be an explanation of how your resources will contribute to the plans and goals of a potential employer.
At a glance, the resume reader should get a clear idea of not only who you are, but also what you actions you will be able to take on for an organization.
So we turn to the resume
You do update your resume on an annual basis, right?
Grab a blank paper and create three columns of tasks:
- Performed for previous employers
- What you want to perform for future employers
- What you have no desire to take on for my next employer
The results may surprise you.
2. Always review the job description
Do you know what’s interesting about job descriptions? In spite of popular sentiment, they are designed to find the right candidate for a job based on a series of required skills and keywords. The main takeaway here is that the answers will be right in front of you. You just have to look for them.
In many cases, a job description will have certain phrases or qualifications that repeat several times. This is a clue that a particular skill has great value. The bottom line is that a pattern can lead you to a better understanding of what an employer may be looking for in their next hire for that role.
Also, the job description will list qualities or traits that will be necessary to succeed in that role. For example, one organization may be looking for a “collaborative leader for a small team”. Another may seek, “KPI driven supervisor who will emphasize monthly goals and quotas”.
In both cases, you will have a better idea of skills and abilities the former employer will value over the later.
3. Play the match game
Now it’s time to slide that job description over your resume and see if we have a match. Highlight the same words that appear both on your resume and in the job description.
For this reason, it may be a good idea to run your resume past several job descriptions for the same role. If you were applying as a “Project Manager,” for Company A, you would be wise to compare that description to similar roles at Organizations B and C.
If there is a match, you may have already found your way towards a job that will fit not only your experience but also the skills you have. In some cases, you may need to revise your resume to bring these skills to the forefront.
For example, if you found that you spend several years in a “Business Development” role, you may have found that included skills such as “Market Research,” “Networking”, or even “Lead Generation.”
These same skills may need to be reiterated on your resume, or even placed closer to the top of the page as opposed to the bottom.
4. Create a customized cover letter
In my opinion, the cover letter is more beneficial for the applicant than the employer. Although some hiring managers will require a cover letter, the true value of such a letter is it gives you, the applicant, a chance to make your case for the role in question.
When you construct your cover letter, offer an explanation of the following:
- How you honed your current skills.
- How those skills lead to success with your previous employers.
- How you plan to utilize those skills for the organization you will be applying for.
The beauty of the cover letter is that it doesn’t need to be a novel. All you will need are a few short paragraphs that will reinforce why the skills on your resume will make you a viable candidate for the position.
At the end of the day
You will be presenting your future employer with a list of skills and abilities that you will mold to the position.
In the sweltering heat of July, a central heating team leader may not have a snowball’s chance.
However, a team-oriented results-driven manager with experience heading small to medium sized teams may get one step closer to an interview!