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I received an inquiry from a new graduate from a major university. He asked me to review his resume. It had about 20 sentences on it. That may sound like a lot, but it had a bunch of white space. In modern job hunting, any white space is too much white space. Just be sure the formatting and content are easily consumable by humans at the same time. Still, despite too much white space and his brief career, he’s got a compelling story. He’s already launched a business, run an online store, and produced sales online. Here’s why everyone with a resume, or who may need a resume in the future, needs to think like a content marketing professional. Furthermore, here’s what I suggested he do. Don’t worry! I’ll also give you specific guidance you can use in your next job search too.
Are you a content marketing professional? You are if you post online for job openings!
Have you submitted a resume to an online job opening? If so, there are some things you should know about modern recruiting, that you can use to improve your resume.
Do you think you may need to post a resume online in the future? Here’s some news you can use now to improve your shot at getting the interview.
The Job Hunting “Sales Funnel”
In modern hiring in many companies, especially bigger ones, unless you’re identified as a perfect candidate by a colleague already in the company, your resume stands between you and any hope of a job offer. Your resume is the modern “sales page” or “squeeze page”. A sales page or squeeze page is intended to “convert” prospective buyers (in this case, recruiters and hiring managers) to potential buyers. In this case, your goal is they become buyers of you, a potential new employee or contractor at that company.
Here’s how your content funnel works:
You create your squeeze page or sales page. Yes, that’s your resume. (Make it brilliant! Did you ask someone you trust to review it? Make it perfect: no spelling errors or grammar issues.)
You post your resume and/or profile to an online database, maybe in response to an ad (proprietary databases at specific companies), maybe not (LinkedIn or a generic job listing site). This is the same as any other marketer publishing their sales page.
Traffic And Search
- Unlike other content marketers who are competing with the rest of the world on the world wild web, you have the luxury of a captive audience and less competition. You’re only competing with the other people who put their resumes into the database. Lucky for you, you’re not competing with every other person or company on the planet who put the word “java” on a web page. Soon enough, a recruiter performs a keyword search on the database. This is essentially the same as you searching in a search engine for a web page about how to make the perfect gin fizz.
- Computer delivers a list of candidates and their profiles or resumes back to the recruiter or manager. This is the same as your browser delivering you a list of posts and pages about gin fizz recipes or somebody’s gin fizz hangover.
- Recruiter manually looks for use of those keywords in sentences. Recruiters often don’t have great context about specific technical roles, but the wise hiring manager has prepared them with phrases and sentences to look for. Just like that recruiter, you will look for the links on the results page that look most like a recipe. Only then will you or the recruiter click to see the full profile or web page.
- When a human sees the right keyword in the right sentence or sentences, only then will you get the opportunity for a virtual screening interview. Increasingly, these are happening by phone and even video conference.
- If your resume or profile looks close, the recruiter will call or email you. If your resume or profile doesn’t have significant context or detail, and others do, you won’t get a call. This works just like when you open the page for what you think will be a recipe, but it’s just an ad for high ball glasses. You’ll go back to the original results list to look for a winner.
- If, in person, you capably understand the keyword and its use in a sentence the same way the recruiter and/or hiring manager expects you to use them, the recruiter will proceed. Then, if you appear to meet the profile of skills/education/experience/budget/commute/company culture fit, only then will you be invited for an in-person interview.
In modern job hunting and recruiting, keyword hits are as important as in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) marketing
Add as much detail and description to your resume as you can… As a modern job hunter, you are a modern marketer…promote yourself with your resume. No keywords…no hits. Lots of keywords…lots of hits. The recruiter’s initial search via keyword will surface the resume. Then the human will look for that keyword in sentences.
Your resume is a sales brochure. Make it brilliant!
Your next job as a content marketer is to link the keyword with a real use of that keyword that generated actual measurable results in the real world. This is an area where many job hunters can increase their effectiveness. When the human (first a recruiter, later a hiring manager) sees that sentence, and it makes sense to them in the context of the role they are looking to fill, it dramatically increases their belief that you are potentially ideal candidate for the position, and thus, an interview. Then, and only then, you will have the opportunity to tell your own story, in person.
Amateur mistakes and examples
Too little content
Don’t make the amateur mistake of trying to minimize content to avoid being pigeon-holed. You need a lot of content to succeed in modern database and search marketing, to be found in a keyword search. Its only job is to have a recruiter or hiring manager be willing to contact you for a person-to-person conversation. Does that make sense?
Too little context — share measurable results
If choosing between two resumes, the recruiter may choose the one that shows more context, and a firmer understanding of the business in which the role will be performed. This is the one a hiring manager may be more interested in seeing, as it more easily sells the candidate for that specific role, without a conversation.
Bad: “I made widgets”
OK: “I made green widgets on the line with a low defect rate”
Best: “Produced an average of 32 green widgets daily, always in the top quarter for quality output (requiring minimal rework). Widgets are used by customers in the manufacturing, automotive, and medical sectors. Used mechanical assembly, small tools, magnification and microscopes. Actively participated in kaizen exercises that resulted in 30% overall reduction in defects on the line.”
Just Like Selling, Job Hunting Is A Series Of “Conversions”
From Having a Problem, to Awareness of you as a possible solution
In the database search, your goal for your resume is to “convert” a recruiter from “I have a problem” (“I need to send resumes for three qualified candidates to the hiring manager”) to “Awareness” (“I think this candidate could be a partial solution to my problem”). If you succeed, they have transitioned through the funnel from “suspect” to “prospect”. Now your resume has to “convert” them to an interviewer of you as a potentially qualified candidate.
From Awareness to Consideration of you as a possible solution
In the review of how keywords fit into sentences, your resume will be with the prospective customer (recruiter) in “consideration”. The recruiter is considering you and your resume alongside other options.
From Consideration to Preference of you as a solution
In the screening interview, your ability to competently use the keyword in full sentences, (e.g. “I personally built 20 widgets a week with low defect rates, and was rapidly promoted to supervisor of the assembly line”) is what converts the recruiter from “consideration” to “preference/intent”, and from “prospect” to “buyer”. Now, just because the recruiter is a buyer doesn’t mean the company’s a buyer…yet. But now the recruiter will advocate for you as a candidate to the hiring manager. S/he’ll “send your resume to the hiring manager”. In a professional recruiting situation, s/he’ll likely send it with other documentation s/he took from your meeting. It will also likely include a point by point assessment of how well you fit each requirement of the role.
Every person in the interview process goes through the same cycle
The manager will undertake a similar analysis of your resume before requesting an interview with you. S/h will progress through the same stages of the buying cycle as the recruiter did. S/he will compare your resume to the resumes of other candidates, weighing one against the other. In fact, even in team interviews, each person who interviews you will take the same journey. Each person must take the same journey through the buying cycle before they become a buyer…of you.
Is your resume the best marketing piece it can be for you and all the skills you want to use at work?