Customization makes a résumé stand out

By Bobby Sisk
Charlotte Observer
Posted: Sunday, Mar. 27, 2011

For nearly 20 years, Nathan Adams has helped job-seekers improve their résumés. But in this current job market, he recognized his advice is only one part of the sometimes difficult process of finding work.

“I had always held firm to the belief that once you got a solid résumé that accurately highlighted your skills, the next thing to do was start applying for any and all positions that you thought you were qualified for,” Adams said.
Recent struggles of job seekers competing against hundreds of other applicants led him toward a different approach, one of more customization.

“It became evident to me that it is very challenging to write a résumé that can survive this process,” he said, “because you have to be a mind reader to know what is motivating the person on the other end to select candidates for the interview.”

He calls it a game of chance that leaves most applicants without a single call back.

What do you do to take your job search beyond a piece of paper?

“I have been reading the latest copy of ‘What Color Is Your Parachute?’ by Richard Bolles,” Adams said. “Richard advises job searchers to wait as late as possible in the job search process before submitting their résumé.

Take control of your search and in this job market, think outside the box. “Networking is key. Getting in front of the hiring manager by receiving a lead from a friend, co-worker, or relative, cold-calling employers for current vacancies, or in-person visits to companies you are interested in can increase your chances of landing the job you always wanted,” he said.

It may make you uncomfortable, but Adams points to a colleague who waited in the lobby of a business where she hoped to work and waited until someone asked her if she needed help. Granted, this is a bold and, to some employers, annoying approach. The takeaway is to brainstorm ideas that will get your name to the top of the prospective employers list.

Sure, a résumé is an important tool to capture your career history, skills and accomplishments, but you still need more.

“It should take a back seat to an aggressive job search campaign that includes you doing everything you can to get in front of the employer first. If you can do that and highlight your strengths and skills, your chances of landing that job will increase astronomically,” he said.

Remember, keep your résumé concise and tweak it for each job for which you’re applying. You’ll improve your chances of standing out in those growing piles.

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