By Mark Helfen
Your resume is the principle piece of marketing material in your job search according to Denise Pringle. Yet many resumes do a poor job at addressing the key issues.
Pringle, a long time HR manager, was the speaker at the May 11 meeting of the SDForum Marketing SIG.
From the hiring managers perspective, your resume, your interview, and your references need to address two main issues - are you a good fit for the job, and will hiring you be a low risk decision. Not that you skills, education, and job history aren't important. But they are less unique, and take second place in the decision.
Hiring managers are "highly risk averse," according to Pringle. The cost of hiring the wrong person can be very high. It's difficult to fire an employee, and the manager might even lose the employee budget for the position.
During times of rapid economic expansion, managers make one judgment about hiring risk. In today's tight economy, with an abundance of highly skilled candidates, managers make a different decision, and are even less willing to accept risk in who they hire. Your marketing message, your resume, needs to create a "cushion of least risk," assuring a manager that they won't be making a mistake by hiring you.
Managers assess three things as they go through the hiring process:
- can you do the job - do you have the necessary skills
- will you do the job - meaning your work ethic. Will you show up every day, and get the job done.
- your fit for the job. This includes chemistry, appearance, and personality. "Fit is huge," said Pringle. "It's not a fair world out there."
There are three ways that a job candidate presents their fit for the job - their resume, their interview performance, and references.
Many resumes look like job descriptions, listing the functions of the job you want, instead of showing the benefits to the manager of hiring you.
Resumes need to be concise and "crisp" and explain your accomplishments. "Crisp" is one of Pringles favorite words - in today's market a long resume will never be read.. Accomplishments should be quantified if possible - listing a percentage of sales increase, a reduction of time to market, an increase in customer satisfaction. Once you submit a resume to a company, it gets put into the company database and in future job searches that need your skills it might pop up.
Most hiring managers are very poor interviewers according to Pringle. It's your job during an interview to "gently guide the interviewer," to focus the discussion on your accomplishments, how you can help the hiring manager, and how you will fit the organization.
Pringle recommends thinking about the questions you will get asked, and practicing them out loud in front of a mirror. Just thinking about them, or writing them down isn't the same.
References are important, as a way of getting that cushion of least risk - someone who knows you can vouch for you. The person who is the best networked, best referenced, has the best relationships is the least risk.
Some references are more valuable than others, but any reference is valuable.
"Charles Manson is better than no reference at all," said Pringle.
A copy of Pringle's presentation materials can be found on the SDForum web site, here.
Pringle can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Helfen is a Marketing Consultant and Freelance Writer. He can be reached at email@example.com