tips for getting past the resume screen

Appleforteacher In todays economic environment, every day we hear news of lay-offs and downsizings.  Whether you are in the job-seeking trenches or concerned that you may be next, know that jobs are out there and things will get better.  It is important however to be prepared and knowledgable when it come to approaching your job search in order to be efficient with your time and effective with your results. 
 
Monthly I hear from job-seekers that are tired, worn out and, quite frankly, scared.  They are combing the internet, pounding the proverbial pavement and beating the bushes only to be disappointed and frustrated with the result.  They have sent their resume to company after company after company and are barely getting a nibble or the companies that are responding don't seem to be at all what they're looking for (or hoped for).
 
What…is…the…problem?
 
If this resonates with your experience, have heart!  It may not be you but rather your approach that isn't working.  What follows are a few guidelines about how you can approach your job hunt that have proven successful for my clients chance of getting to an interview. Perhaps they can also work for you….
 
First of all,  you know the old adage: It's not what you know, it's who you know?
 
Throw it out half-way out the door.
 
When it comes to getting hired these days, who you know may still matter in terms of getting your resume looked at but who you know will NOT get you the job if you don't meet most of the job criteria.
 
Three years ago, if you had a recommendation from a company insider and met 60% of the criteria of a position, chances are you would at least get an interview.
 
Not today.
 
The playing field is competitive and companies can "buy you" for a fraction of what you used to be worth (think housing market and economics 101).  TODAY, you need to meet 90-95% of the criteria to not end up on the bottom of the pile regardless of who you know and to have some negotiating power should you make it through the interview circuit.
 
How do you increase your chances of being in the 90-95%?
 
1.  Be clear about what you do well. 
True story:  A friend of mine is in the job market.  Her skill set has her looking for director positions in the non-profit arena.  Her husband, who is also job-seeking, is looking for work in the accounting field.  Someone sent me a job possibility in the accounting field which I forwarded to her for her husband.  She sent a message back to me and said, "Thanks for the lead.  I'll give it a shot but I don't really do numbers."  Bottom line – Desperation will not qualify you for a job you simply cannot do.
 
2.  Match your skills to the stated job criteria
If the position calls for someone with management/leadership skills and you have never had a management "title", then you want to address situations in which you have led either formally (ie perhaps you were asked to lead a project) or informally (ie you volunteered to lead a community project, sports team etc).  Specifically language your skillset to what is being asked.  The resume screener doesn't have time to interpret your resume.  Make it clear.
 
The other point I want to make here is this:  When it comes to your resume, one size does not fit all!  In other words, if you apply for five jobs with slightly different criteria that match your skillset (don't forget guideline #2), then tweak your resume to match the criteria for that job! You may have five slightly different resumes but you have just increased your odds of being noticed substantially!
 
3.  Focus on results
All too often I see resumes that are very pretty but have no real content.  They are essentially just a list of job descriptions that I could get off of Monster.com.  What the employer wants to know is:  What did you achieve while in the position?  What concrete value did you bring to the position and to the employer?  Ultimately the underlying question is - If I hire you, how do I know you will drive results for the company?  If you can demonstrate a results oriented resume and then back up the results with other data, testimonials and recommendations you become less of a risk to hire.
 
4.  Remember that your resume is the employers first impression of you so take it seriously.
If you take nothing else away from this point, take this: SPELL CHECK IS THE KILLER OF RESUMES! I cannot tell you how many resumes I have reviewed that have countless spelling errors only to be told by the job-seeker, "I spell checked it five times!"  PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE (did I say PLEASE?) do yourself a favor and do not rely on spell check!  Small, consistent errors reflect a lack of attention to detail  – a real mistake if you're going for a position that requires just that.
 
5.  Keep your chin up
Everyday and everywhere we turn, we're told how hard it is.  Perhaps you're reading this and you just lost your job.  Perhaps you're reading this and you have been out of work for a while.  Regardless of what end of the spectrum you are on, try to keep your chin up.  There is something to be said of positive energy.  A job will show up if you keep these guidelines in mind and only go for those positions which resonate most closely with your successful skillset.
 
You were born to be great.
 
YES, you can!

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