In talking with a couple of hiring managers this week, we got on the topic of marketing materials. I heard the good, the bad and the ugly.
A cover letter from an under-qualified candidate that landed him an interview. You see, he’d done his homework and realized that his background in construction operations could benefit a creative services operations team. Smart.
The candidate with less than five years of experience with a four page resume. Overcompensating?
The “seeking an opportunity with a great team” objective statement. Sheesh.
So what do these hiring mangers want? Well, there is one simple thing you can do, right now, which will dramatically improve your resume and cover letter. You won’t have to take a creative writing class. Or design your resume as an infographic. Or do any super technical research. The most important change you can make to your marketing materials is:
Think like a hiring manager.
Stop critiquing your resume as the candidate, and put yourself in the position of being the hiring manager. Screen your resume this way:
1.Does this candidate know where he/she fits?
2.Is the thread to their experience clear?
3.Is their experience relevant to my needs?
Resume content is king, and if your content is off, if it doesn’t show relevance, your results will be off. If you shift your perspective and think more like a hiring manager, you’ll probably notice a few other things.
Candidates who cast a wide net are hard to figure out. Telling a one-size-fits-all story in your resume puts the responsibility of “trying to figure out where you fit” onto me, the hiring manager. And, I’ve got a lot of other balls I’m juggling – so best to assume that if I can’t figure it out, I’m not going to take the time to connect the dots, and I’ll just put you into my “no” pile.
Show me, the hiring manager, that you “get” what my job is about. Don’t give me a synopsis of your current job description – which I can probably guess from your job title — I want to know that you understand what my job is about. Ask around, find out more about my company and how we work. I’ll appreciate the initiative and effort. Share relevant accomplishments that highlight your fit.
If your career path hasn’t been linear, don’t be afraid to connect some dots for me and show me how the pieces fit together. Don’t make me hunt down the relevant information in your resume – and don’t feel like you need to include every single detail about your work history. Show me that you get what’s relevant for my needs/position and edit accordingly. Keep the content focus tight and relevant. Don’t sell me soup if I’m wanting crackers.
And when you think like a hiring manager, guess what else happens? It forces YOUR personal brand to emerge on paper.