Are you not getting that job interview? This is why.
As coronavirus continues to sweep the globe, many people are competing to get a job. Fresh grads now have to go against professionals who were laid off work, alongside those who were previously unemployed before COVID-19.
So a few days ago, I decided to ask Twitter:
It seems like a lot of people are struggling with even getting a job interview!
We’ve all gone through it. We Google “how to write a resume” or “what do I put in my resume”. Then we proceed to follow the formats, put in every important keyword we know, with a sprinkle of business jargon for an added touch of intellect and professionalism. Voila! We’ve made ourselves a resume that’s ready to get sent out.
We start applying to every company and agency we know that has a vacant job position. We feel hopeful. But days, weeks, and even months go by.
But why? We followed every tip and trick out there. We even have all the right keywords! Why are employers ignoring my resume? Are we not good enough?
That’s rarely the case.
It’s not rocket science that we need a good resume to get that interview. But when employers overlook our resume, many times, it has nothing to do with our education, experiences, or credentials.
We are getting ignored because our resume is lacking one thing, and that is… personality.
So today, I’m not going to tell you how to write a resume. I want to share with you how to inject personality into your resume and finally make yourself memorable to employers.
This article is in collaboration with Michael Wood, a quality manager with a large international company. Michael has helped job seekers write successful resumes throughout his career, and he believes that personality, out of all things, is the most crucial part of your resume.
Why we need to show our personality on our resume
“Most reviewers discard a resume in 20 seconds. It is advertising. You need a hook. “Michael Wood
Always remember that a resume is the first impression that we give to a potential employer. A lot of times, employers think they can tell our personality through our resume, but the truth is they can’t. Their assumptions about us may be way off. It is our responsibility to show them who we are.
When our resume sounds personable, employers are more likely to get excited. With the increasing importance of job culture, employers need to make sure they hire people who can jive with the company.
“Getting a job is like making a friend, you have to get along with each other.”Michael Wood
Many companies have started valuing personality over experience when it comes to hiring. Skills can always be taught, but our personality is what ensures we will have a good business relationship with our colleagues.
What is a ‘hook’?
“The ‘hook’ is an advertising term. It is the thing that grabs you. It is the thing that (employers) remember. It could be your experience, skill, humour, or hobbies. It could even be your name.”Michael Wood
Did you know that 55% of readers spend less than 15 seconds on a page? Chartbeat’s research found that out of 2 billion visits, most people who click on links don’t read them.
When was the last time you read to the end? What was it that made you continue reading? Was it an attention-grabbing headline? Did the first few sentences pique your interest?
Our resume is the same thing. Just because employers open it does not necessarily mean they will finish reading. If there is nothing to ‘hook’ the employer in, they will probably throw our resume aside and move on.
Workopolis’s analysis of employer behaviours shows that most employers spend less than 11 seconds on a resume before they choose to shortlist it or reject it.
“So the hook should be something special about you. Never try to be something that you are not.”Michael Wood
Another tip to remember is to use a conversational tone! Make the employer feel like we are talking to them. We only have a few seconds to make ourselves stand out among the hundreds of job applications the employer receives! Let’s make the best out of it.
Our resume is our personal brand
“A resume is like a little robot that goes around and introduces you.”Michael Wood
Put yourself in the shoes of an employer. If you are interviewing a group of people with the exact same credentials, who would you rather hire afterwards? Obviously the one that you like and trust.
The summary at the top of our resume should tell the employer a story about us. Before they get to our working experience or list of skills, how we introduce ourselves in our summary should briefly tell the employer what they need to know about us, what we do, and what we want to do.
Even our working experience and list of skills should tell a story! Employers have no way to evaluate our past job experiences, so we need to let them know.
We are more than just a piece of paper. Each of us possesses different hobbies, passions, and other skills. These qualities are what make us worth considering.
“Transferable skills are a big thing, but always focus on what you can do for the company, not what you want out of it.”Michael Wood
Explain more than just where we worked and what our job title was. Don’t just highlight our talents, training, and accomplishments. Tell a story about what we did in our past job positions, how we put our skills to use, and how we achieved our accomplishments.
So how can we write a good resume?
“Rule number one: There are no rules. Whatever gets you to the interview is a successful resume.”Michael Wood
According to Michael, there is no such thing as a “good” resume. As long as it gets us to the interview, it is good.
“If it is long and boring and that is what they want, then it’s good. If it is bright and colourful and it gets you an interview, same. Some jobs you are wasting your time with a resume,” Michael explains. “I knew a security guard, and his handshake was his resume. He was really strong!”
“Employers are different so you might need different resumes to emphasise different aspects of your abilities!”Michael Wood
There is no one-size-fits-all formula for writing a resume. Every resume has to tell an authentic story about you and at the same time, match the job position and the company. We should always frame our resume around the job that we want, for the company that we are applying to.
There are many people who can have a similar resume to us. That’s why we need to stand out from the crowd. We need to convince employers that we are not suited for just any job, but this job.
Different companies look for different things. We should never send out a resume that makes us look like we are mass-applying!
“Your resume has to be in the middle of the Venn Diagram,” Michael said.
Are you a fresh grad with no experience?
“Smaller businesses are easier to get into than bigger businesses or government. In a small business, you can get to the decision-maker much more easily.”Michael Wood
In Asia, a lot of fresh grads tend to aim for big companies. Michael advises that fresh grads should focus on their experience and skills first, not status or titles. However, always make sure that you get paid.
“Never volunteer. Never work for nothing. Helping others, yes. Working without pay, no. You just send the message that your work has no value,” He reiterates. “Treat each job as a contract. You are interviewing the company to see if it is worth it.”
When you frame your job application as a process of getting to know the company, it changes your body language to make you look much more professional and confident.
“A lot of young people think, ‘If I work hard, I will get noticed and rewarded,’ but this isn’t always true. You also have to keep making the right choices.”Michael Wood
Looking for a job is more than just luck. When we target the work that we want, not the job title or the company, we will be moved to write a great resume. This is because we know exactly what we are aiming for instead of just throwing darts in the dark.
The secret to writing a good resume is not our accomplishments, awards, or talents. It is us. We are the secret ingredient to a great resume.
This article was originally published on Writer’s Blokke.