Nobody likes to be a nobody, but unfortunately, that’s what you are at the beginning of the job search process, provided you’ve just joined the ranks of those in transition. Those who are the decision makers about your future do not initially know anything about you, so you have the chance to impress them, and you want to make darn sure it’s a very good impression.
So, how are you going to positively influence hiring managers, human resources folks, and recruiters? To start with, record brief greetings on both your answering machine at home and your mobile phone, and project a clear, mature, businesslike, and overall positive message. Your children are cute, I’m sure, but leave their greetings for sharing with family and friends and not potential employers. Next, get into the habit of answering your phone professionally. Answering with “Hello, this is John Doe,” with a friendly and inviting tone of voice, is best. Get into that habit even if you think you can identify the person via caller ID. Don’t make exceptions to the rule, because you’ll be sorry if you didn’t answer properly when it’s someone you really want to impress. You also want to make sure your e-mail address is nothing less than professional. An address like email@example.com or anything cute or sexy could be detrimental to that first impression.
Your next opportunity to create the right image is via your résumé. This is probably the single most important document you’ll be evaluated by, and it will determine whether the hiring folks want to invite you to an interview or not. Remember that the first impression is a lasting impression. This is an extremely critical stage because résumé readers typically review large numbers of résumés, and having only one opening to fill, their intention at this point is to reduce the number of résumés to three to five final candidates for interviewing. In fact, this process of reviewing the résumé is divided into two parts. The resume reader’s objective is to eliminate résumés that clearly seem to lack something. It might be something as simple as an unattractive appearance, improper use of language or grammar, lengthiness, overly detailed experience, or a lack of accomplishments.
On one hand, many résumés contain listings of job duties as described in job descriptions and not actual accomplishments. The résumé reviewer expects to read about accomplishments on the job. If your résumé doesn’t pass this 10- to 30-second scan, it’s likely that it will be set aside and never resurface again. Unfortunately, you’ll never find out that that was the case—except by the lack of any next steps.
On the other hand, if your résumé passes this first-blush review, it will be read thoroughly, along with another 10 or 12 others, and will be ranked on a competitive basis. Probably only three to five candidates will be called in for face-to-face interviews. With that decision, you move on to the next stage in the job search process, in which you have to get ready for the final test, which is to convince the hiring manager and others interviewing you that you are their ideal candidate. Good luck.
Alex Freund is the founder of Landing Expert–Career Coaching. His Web site includes a current and comprehensive list of job search networking groups in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and the city of New York, and the site is visited by thousands of people every month. Landing Expert is a premier career-coaching service with the objective of preparing job seekers for interviews. Alex’s clients are gaining knowledge, receiving marketing material, and acquiring the know-how to beat the competition.
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