I want to preface this by stating that I have been a practicing career coach for six years, during which time I have helped almost 400 job seekers. Every case is unique because no two circumstances are alike, but ultimately there is a lot of commonality between job seekers. Finding a job, especially in today’s job market, is supercompetitive, so let’s not forget that. In principle, there are two significant steps every job seeker has to master. Without that mastery, chances are slim for getting a job. The first step involves the résumé, and the second, interviewing skills.
The résumé is the most important document a job seeker needs. At the résumé submission stage, the competition is fierce. An advertised position could draw literally hundreds and hundreds of résumés. The quality of such résumés of course varies from blatantly poor to stunningly excellent. In the middle are several that are very good. Sorry, though, but those will not be in the running. Why should a human resources rep, a recruiter, or even a hiring manager consider those when plenty of excellent résumés have been submitted to select from? My point is that only excellent résumés will be considered.
So, how does one produce an excellent résumé? After years and years and seeing hundreds of résumés myself, I am completely convinced that it takes a professional résumé writer to do that. Statistically speaking, the vast majority of job seekers initiate their own résumés. Next, they ask others whose opinions they respect to comment and possibly edit. And by accepting others’ recommendations, they’re thus covering a patch with a patch.
At times, a résumé morphs into something very different from what it started out to be. With all due respect to those who are willing to help others in need, the fact is that most of those people are simply not professionals at writing résumés. They want to help and are doing their best, but the final product will not be at the excellent level. Opposite this are professional résumé writers, some of whom are certified, have years of successful experience, and strive to be good at this service because their livelihood depends on it. They keep taking courses to learn what’s new, and they clearly know what sells. They not only craft a good-looking résumé, but they know how to weave in the right keywords and in sufficient numbers. Without the right keywords, résumés go into a black hole and may stay there for a very long time, if not indefinitely. Many people declare themselves professional résumé writers to attract clients. Best is to use one who comes highly recommended by several people. Their fees vary, but I’ve learned that you get what you pay for.
This is the area I specialize in. Again, from my experience I conclude that only a tiny fraction of the population is innately good at interviewing. Job interviewing essentially calls for being an actor onstage. Many people phone me, say, two days before they’re scheduled for a critical interview. This is clearly not enough time to prepare. It takes a significant amount of practice to review common interview questions and be ready to answer them proficiently.
The interview process involves not only going through the motions but also understanding interviewers’ thinking. When interviewers ask about your weaknesses, do you know what they mean? Do you know what you’re being tested on?
Interviewing well can be learned. It is certainly not as complex as brain surgery. It just takes practice till you feel confident. And if you exude confidence, the interviewer senses that. Congratulations! An offer is coming your way.
by Alex Freund