Job Hunt Basics: Lesson 4
(This lesson continues where Lesson 3 left off.)
Finding the Hiring Manager That Wants to Meet You Badly
I wrote an article about pocket resumes a while back. I first heard about them on a Linkedin group. It mentioned that a company was offering business card size resumes for use at networking events. “What exactly can you fit on a business card?” I thought. The more and more I thought about it, the more I caught a glimpse of a mentality that if put to use can speed up a job hunt.
Here’s the challenge with a business card sized pocket resume – space is at a premium. There is no room for fluff. You must cut, cut, cut and decide, what information has earned a spot on your sparse few inches of real estate?
After all the cutting, the message must be clear, concise and memorable. Otherwise, it does you no good. What would our elevator pitch and message look like if we took on a mentality like that?
If you do your homework, you’ll soon convince yourself that networking is your best way to your next job. (Again, take a look at the Parachute book. It makes a strong case for this.) You deliver your message, elevator pitch or resume to friends, relatives and contacts in order to reach the people they know. These other people know you indirectly but serve are your path to a hiring manager with an open position you can fill. But for this to work, the person networking on your behalf must know when to recommend you and offer your name and qualifications in a conversation or via e-mail.
This is where the importance of a clear, concise, memorable message comes to play. Let’s assume a person named Clarence (I could of used Bob or Jane, but let’s just be different here.) is networking on your behalf. If your message isn’t clear, you’re out of luck. If Clarence gets a copy of your resume, looks it over and after a few seconds is still thinking, “What does this guy do? I don’t get it.” You have a problem. Your message isn’t clear to him. Even if he’s dying to put you in front of his contacts, he won’t be sure. And if he’s a busy person, he won’t have the time to learn more about you. You just blew your chances with him.
If you message is not concise and instead aims at covering too many potential positions, you have a similar problem. Suppose Clarence again takes the time to look over your resume and now thinks,
“This guy’s been in accounting forever. He’s done receivables and payables. He could be a controller or an operations manager.”
You have another problem here. Will Clarence be comfortable recommending you for a book keeping job today and a controller position tomorrow? A voice in the back of his mind just might be saying, “One candidate willing to take a book keeping, controller, operations manager or maybe any job will do.” If something just doesn’t feel right to him, you blew another chance at getting your message circulated.
Finally, the message has to be memorable. Forget Clarence now. A lot of people reach out to me because they know I’ll put my network to work for them. Remembering a person’s message is especially difficult for me since I’m not a recruiter with a file written up on you. If your message is, “I’m a good, inexpensive masseuse.” I’ll remember it. Not only is it clear and concise, it’s certainly memorable for me. I don’t know too many massage folk.
However, since I’m in technology, I get approached by a lot of candidates looking for tech jobs. Mentally I file these people under techie. That message makes it clear and concise for me, but what happens when I’ve got four, five or even six of them in my head. I can’t distinguish between them. They aren’t memorable relative to each other.
Let me tell you how one of them can alter their message to help me out. If their message is, “I’m the Cisco engineer that worked 15 years at the same company,” I may just remember that. It distinguishes them from the others.
I was helping a network engineer that told me until he finds his next job, he’s doing computer work for individuals and small business. He helped me define my mental picture of him as the “one man Geek Squad.” I’ve referred him to a nonprofit wanting to expand their wireless network and he was top of mind when a recruiter called me looking for a candidate that week.
So how do we practically put this mentality to work for us? To every job seeker that asks me, I recommend coming up with three titles you could put in 14 point bold font near the top of their resume. The typical reviewer gives your resume an eight second. Some people say its a mere 3. After that initial scan, they decide if they want to read some more. If it takes them a while to figure out your message, you’ve lost ‘em. This headline approach can help your reader quickly size you up.
For example what does the following headline tell you, “Salesperson / Customer Service Specialist / Problem Solver” or “Technology Leader / Programming Expert / Project Manager.” I may not be looking for one of those, but I understand the message and remember it well enough to pass it along in networking situations. Here’s another one, “Marketing Major / Hard Worker / Internship Candidate.” It was what my daughter used to snatch an internship position last summer. If someone’s looking for an intern, that may be all they need to convince them to carefully review the entire resume.
(I’ve covered resumes here oh so briefly. Consider getting yourself a copy of Kevin Donlin’s Guerrilla Resumes. Just click here to get more information on the book. He’s a frequent Career Jockey contributor and this resource gives you step by step instructions for writing a resume that stands out and gets you notices – everything you need to get you that interview.)
Taking on a pocket resume mentality may be a challenge. It’s not easy reducing all you can offer a position to six maybe ten words. I’m not asking you to change who you are and especially not asking you to compromise yourself. I am asking you take a pocket resume mentality and trim your message down so you can most effectively reach that hiring manager that’s dying to find you.
Hope this helps.
The final lesson will soon arrive – “Job Search Resources to Help You Snatch the Big Job.“