Recently in our office, we were talking about impressive resumes after my friend received one (see below) for her company, Imogene + Willie. A quick Google search later, we found many more online. Candidates who have the time and talent are coming up with novel ways to market themselves using the latest trends to create buzz, from displaying their resume in an infographic format to taking a more DIY route, like my friend posted, with crafts. Luckily, you don’t have to be an emerging artist to create an engaging profile of your talents – you just have to present relevance.
Relevant works, even for candidates with limited experience. I once used novel ways to market myself early in my career, and once I recast my employer as my customer, the initiative I took to be relevant to their needs paid off. Candidates unfortunately often miss the opportunity to make it easy for employers to hire them.
And there’s plenty of opportunity. A recruiter working against time to hire performance metrics while having to make sense of resume spam received from over 85% of candidates who fail to connect their experience to requirements in the job ad typically do not have time to interpret every resume. At best, they have a few minutes. And if you add in the reality that some may be trying to fill jobs that their overworked colleagues needed filled “yesterday” but only had the budget to fill now, it’s not hard to see that if there ever was a time to be relevant, now’s that time.
With this realization, to get my career off the ground, I started focusing less on showcasing ALL of my incredible talents – my hands-on knowledge of welding tire rims or my action photography skills at monster tractor pulling contests or my promotional marketing experience wearing a mascot costume at a rural Kentucky rodeo in 108 degree heat – and more on what my future employer needed to know to hire me. As proud as I was of surviving many of my early work experiences, I knew that this pride wasn’t relevant to where I was trying to go.
I also learned that if you’re a recent college grad or even a professional with limited experience in your chosen field, bridging the gap by showing initiative is possible. It just depends on what you’re willing to do to get there. I landed one job offer in advertising, which was a major career jump at the time, by creating a faux copywriter portfolio of reimagined work of the agency where I wanted to work. A few years later, after the first dot.com fallout when the market was flooded with candidates, I overnighted my resume and work samples to a hiring manager who had to sign for it, relieving her of the pain of reviewing over 300 resumes she had received for my future job.
Being relevant today, with or without experience, is easier with social media. After you’ve revamped your resume with all the tried and true tips repeated in nearly all candidate advice columns – customize your resume to the job requirements, proofread before sending, include keywords from the job ad, describe your previous roles by what you achieved, include only the last 10 years of relevant work experience, fit it all on one page – remember your social presence.
With social profiles emerging as the new resume, given that they’re easier to read, usually current, and unequivocally engaging, you should also have an employer-friendly profile on LinkedIn, Facebook and other networks related to your industry or career path. With very little artistic ability, you can personalize your profile by sharing photos of your work if relevant, links to a blog or an online file service like Dropbox, and professional references from real people.
More about how to make the most of your social presence to come…