It’s one of the first things people think to do after losing a job: quickly get a résumé into as many hands as possible. But career experts say doing so without a strategic plan is a mistake — wasting time and energy and resulting in few callbacks. “Most people sprinkle their résumé around like confetti hoping they will land in the right spot,” says Ford Myers, president of Career Potential LLC, a Philadelphia-based career consulting firm. “It’s a bad strategy.” How to get the most out of your résumé:
Make a wish list. Take the time to identify the companies you want to work for before you sit down to write your résumé. “You have to know where you are headed,” says Robert Saam, a senior vice president at Woodcliff Lake, N.J.-based outplacement firm Lee Hecht Harrison. “This informs how to do your résumé.” For example, knowing a company you are applying to is in the midst of making acquisitions can help you structure your résumé to highlight relevant work experience, he says.
Use keywords. Particularly when answering ads through online job boards or through a corporate Web site, be sure to include critical keywords high up in your résumé. For example, for someone applying for a human-resources position, it would be wise to include key words such as “recruiting” and “hiring” near the top of a résumé for better search optimization. Other clues to the right keywords can be found in the job description — try to use words found there in your résumé.
Tell your story. Once you’re ready to send out the résumé, make sure it’s doing the job of showcasing your skills and accomplishments. Many résumé writers begin by trying to construct concise bullet points. But that can mean losing some of the critical pieces of information involved in what you’ve accomplished. So, Mr. Saam suggests first spelling out the details of a work-related situation, any obstacle, the action you took to resolve the issue, and the results of your actions. Write out the complete story, he advises, and then whittle it down to a series of concise descriptive bullet points.
Find an insider. Develop a networking list of friends, former colleagues, and acquaintances who might know people at your target companies. Taking the time to pinpoint key contacts at the company where you are applying will help ensure your résumé gets into the right person’s hands. What’s more, an introduction to an insider will help avoid needing to use the résumé upfront.
Try a personal touch. For Daniel Muldowney, who has been looking for a marketing job since he was laid off in March, putting a personal touch on his résumé is one way to grab the attention of hiring managers. Mr. Muldowney encloses a handwritten note with his résumé, making clear that he has researched each company, mentioning, for example, the firm’s last quarterly report or a recent speech made by the CEO. “The ultimate goal is to catch an executive’s attention,” says Mr. Muldowney.
Re-evaluate regularly. If you’ve been sending your résumé out for a month or more with no response, ask yourself a few questions. Have you developed a plan that outlines the job functions and industries that most interest you? Are there new keywords you need to incorporate or are your bullet points not playing to your strengths or the company’s needs?
Great examples of resumes are available on Warren Recruiting’s website.
Courtesy of WSJ