August 26, 2013
Remember Show & Tell?
Well, it turns out it isn’t just for grade school! Using the techniques that effectively demonstrate your skills and accomplishments can take you to the head of the class in your job search. Consider the strategies below to land an interview for your dream job.
No pictures are required to show your skills in the resume, but if you use active language, the reader will form his or her own picture of your accomplishments. This will help the hiring manager see you as the perfect candidate who can fill the open role.
Your best approach is to think of your resume as the story of your career up to this point. Each position builds on the next to show your success in taking on progressively challenging roles. Describe how you have surpassed expectations in each job that led to the next one.
Give yourself permission to extend beyond the stale guideline of a one-page resume, most hiring managers prefer to have as much information as possible to help them make an informed decision. However, that doesn’t mean you need to make your resume comprehensive. In fact, including every position you have ever held is more likely to work against you. Strike a balance by emphasizing your accomplishments from the past ten years or so. Setting that parameter will prevent you from falling into the trap of including too much detail. If there are special projects you want to highlight, you can include a white paper, audio, or video that gives a brief overview of other key concepts that distinguish you from the competition.
Update your resume and let key people in your network know you have done so. When you revise your resume, send it back out or post it again. Be certain to let the recipient know you have made a few changes and are available to discuss the value you can add to their organization. Keep the focus on the company and their needs. This is not a time to show what you need, but rather what you can bring to the table.
Show the hiring manager your positive attitude by being open, friendly, and business-like in every interaction with all levels of staff in the prospective company. Don’t hold onto negative feelings about any of your previous positions because that will show through in your conversations and your documents. You want your attitude to convey your positive attributes and ability to fit into the corporate culture which includes learning more about the company by listening closely. Use your network to focus forward in your career. These contacts will help you remain optimistic and demonstrate your professionalism, strengths, and accomplishments.
Making appointments to meet regularly with your network can also help you stay on track with your job search. Use your network to practice and vary your pitch. It’s always recommended that you individualize your resume so that it aligns closely with each position to which you apply. Try doing the same with your elevator pitch when you meet with close colleagues in your network. By practicing several different versions that align with the top positions you are targeting, you will have a more natural presentation for your Show & Tell. Identify a few key skills that are critical qualifications for your top target positions and weave those into your story of unique accomplishments.
Analyzing your target position also helps you prepare for the interview by prompting you to think about how your achievements will solve problems for the potential employer. Develop thoughtful questions that demonstrate your insight into how the organization works and how you can contribute to its success. At the same time, you are showing the hiring manager your initiative and expertise, in addition to what a great co-worker you will be.
Don’t forget the basics – always proof your documents before sending them out. Although sentence fragments are acceptable in resumes, fragmented thoughts are not. Take care to show your value by describing your accomplishments and what actions you took to achieve those. Demonstrate your value by telling what you did and how you did it. Don’t leave out either half of the sentence. A great story will help you connect with the hiring manager.
Another way to demonstrate your value is by identifying areas of professional development. Perhaps you have just finished reading the top cutting-edge article in your field. Or maybe you have become a member of a new committee in your professional organization. Incorporate these activities into your narrative and you will stand out from the competition. If you are able to link these areas to current corporate initiatives, and demonstrate how you will contribute to those strategies, you make yourself an even stronger candidate.
Finally, don’t waste too much time worrying about your soft skills, such as communication or interpersonal skills. The interview, your documents, and all of your interactions with everyone in the company are the ultimate Show & Tell of your soft skills. Make the best use of your limited time to tell the stories of your achievements, insight, logic, technical skills, and organizational abilities. Take Show & Tell to the next level to help you land that interview, and the new job will be your next Show & Tell!
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