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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Get a "leg up" on your competition in 3 steps!

Photo Credit-Regal Resumes
Still looking for leverage to secure your next job? Times are tough and competition is extreme. In order to beat the competition, you will need to play the employment game smarter, faster and with more skill. What can you do to innovate and refine your job hunting skills?

1. Refine your Resume

Your resume has 10-15 seconds to grab and hold the attention of your potential employer. Caitlin Sampson, Professional Resume Writer, for Regal Resumes, LLC ( shares some best practices for refining your resume content:

  • Detail your accomplishments: List your work results: what did this entail; how was this achieved; what role did you specifically play? This will dynamically explain what you have been able to produce for your past employers as opposed to just listing the static job description.
  • Deliver quantifiable results: Did you increase revenue for the company - how much? Did you save time - how much? Try to paint a picture for the reader as to what you have been able to achieve in the past and how. Employers know that past results are the greatest predictor of future success; statistics will help the reader to see that you are a proven producer.
  • Provide a profile rather than an objective: If you are applying for a particular position, the objective of your resume is obvious to the reader. Instead of using that space for information already known, why not create a summary of who you are and a list of your core competencies (innovator, facilitator, negotiator, etc.). The top 1/3 of a resume is where the reader's eyes will go first, this has to be intriguing or else the reader will not want to go on.
The mistake that people often make is thinking that the resume is what is going to get them the job. An effectively written resume will not go the distance that you want it to, unless it is in the hands of the right people or the connections within your network.

The idea of six degrees of separation is that you are only six steps away, by way of introductions, from any other person on Earth. The chain of a "friend of a friend" connection can be made, on average, to connect any two people in six steps or fewer.

The national employment website, CareerBuilder, states that 26% of external hires are generated from employee referrals, making employee referrals the No. 1 source of hire. The old adage may be true; it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. You definitely need the smarts to obtain that new job, but you need to know somebody to get your foot in the door so you can show off those smarts!

Use the six degrees of separation to harness the power of human connections. In order to “get connected” and get the inside lane on your competition, you MUST:

  • Actively participate in professional social networking sites: Facebook, Linkedin, BranchOut, Twitter, Ecademy, Fast Pitch, Ryze, Networking for Professionals.
  • Engage and expand your personal connections: Join and participate in professional organizations (local chapter meetings, regional & national conferences), chamber of commerce mixers, Toastmaster meetings, Rotary and other service organizations. Consider serving on the Board of Directors for your professional organizations.
  • Create inside connections: Consider volunteering or interning at your “employer of choice” to get your foot in the door and show off your smarts for free (win-win situation).
3. Target your job search
Targeting your job search will help to establish a clear correlation between your skills and abilities and the job itself. Try creating a list of 3-5 companies and focus your job search on those. Next, ensure that your resume and cover letter are targeted for each position that you apply for.

Your job search documents must have a sharp focus that leaves no doubt that your particular skills are exactly what the employer requires based on the job requirements. A targeted resume and cover letter should be:

  • Customized – towards the exact position and company
  • *Researched – learn all you can about the job and company and take advantage of that knowledge on your resume
  • Indicating a particular position being targeted – don’t be shy but be direct and name the actual position you are applying for
  • Connecting your capabilities to each job requirement in the position listing – match each job requirement to a specific capability
  • Acknowledging past accomplishments but only in relation to the desired position
The main difference between the targeted resume and the generic resume is that you will focus less on what you have already accomplished and will concentrate instead on how those past skills and accomplishments can be turned into future success with the potential employer.

In order to get that job, you will be required to venture outside your comfort zone and go beyond the efforts of your competition. Think outside the box and find new and inventive ways to catch the eye of the employer and nab that job you have worked so hard to attain.

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