The precursors for the job hunt…
If you haven’t been on a job hunt in some time, it can seem like an overwhelming “where do I start?” moment. The idea of sending off resumes (CVs) which end up in the abyss of HR filtering bots is disheartening for many, to say the least. There are two aspects at play in any job search:
- Are we looking in the right places for the roles we want?
- Are we presenting ourselves in the best possible light for the company and the role?
Today, most companies use some degree of automation and machine learning to process the plethora of resumes received. The applicant tracking system (ATS) scans and ranks the online job applications against open positions, it is effectively the “thing” that stands between you and the interview. Understanding how the ATS tends to work allows us to craft a resume that optimizes our way past the bots and into human hands.
Beyond a good resume, we need clear and actionable objectives. This means being specific about which companies we want to target, which role (or kinds of roles) we seek, and what we bring to the proverbial party (our skills, capabilities, and potential).
Let’s start by looking at setting clear objectives in our quest for a new role.
Before applying for any role..
A job hunt starts by considering what we want out of our career. Where do I want to be in 3-years, 5-years, 10-years? What do I want to achieve with the potential employers I’m considering? What benefits will they get in hiring me? A helpful step in this reflective process is writing out a strategic statement, for example:
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With a clear job hunt objective, we can now identify the top 50 organizations that are the best fit for what we seek. This step goes beyond compensation and should consider organizational culture, sustainability credentials (such as employee experience, equality, environmental responsibility, governance structure, and reputation), and your ability to make a network connection within the organization.
There are several useful resources at our disposal in assessing these steps. Glassdoor is a free resource that helpfully provides current and past employee feedback on a range of relevant areas such as salary, benefits, work-life balance, CEO pay-ratios, and more.
Linkedin is another great resource to search connections and degrees of separation for introductions. We’ll cover this tool a little more in a moment.
By taking the time to identify a clear target list of prospects for our job hunt, we focus our search on organizations most suitable for, and likely to hire, us. Long gone are the days of a “shotgun” approach in the job hunt. Now we have our narrowed list, we need to ensure the resume is up to the task!
A resume is an important point of contact in the job hunt
Resume preparation requires two elements: (1) know who and what you are up against and (2) use a bot/human balanced approach.
Let’s start with knowing who and what you are up against. This is about customizing the resume to the company and the role. It’s important to focus on what the company and role need. Our relevant experience and skills in these areas are the ones that the bots, and human recruiters, will be scanning for to rule us in or out of the interview list. Think about what your “competition” will offer to the role. This is what you are up against and need to differentiate yourself from. Start with your resume and continue it throughout the interview process.
Using a bot/human balance means considering words carefully. Assertive and action-based words, such as led, developed, solved, transformed, and implemented, followed by specific examples both connect with bot algorithms and the human recruiter to pass “the screening test”.
Use a clean format that is easy to read, see, and understand. This means avoiding embedded charts, pictures, diagrams, or graphics that are not easily digitized. Doing so could lead to important and relevant information being missed as the bots process your resume submission. Lastly, and arguably most importantly, include keywords or phrases from the job posting that reflect the people and technical skills sought by the organization.
There is no escaping the need for a resume adapted to each application in our job hunt. Remember however that your network connections within a target organization prove invaluable. Linkedin is a great tool for this step. By entering the name of a target employer, we identify our closest connections to the organization. Individuals who could introduce us, champion us, and teach us about the organization. It’s a great way to make a new connection with a mutual interest in 300 characters or less!
The job hunt is a job itself – it takes focus, clarity, and perseverance to land that dream job.
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Cartoon credit: Randy Glasbergen