Part of my practice is to give free resume reviews. I know there is a lot of information out there and if someone tries to take it all in it can be very overwhelming. My purpose behind the free reviews is to provide direct, simple thoughts and suggestions in a manner that is easy for the other person to understand and apply.
I would say that 95% of the people I talk with are appreciative of this talk and the information or guidance they receive. Then, there is the other 5%.
I affectionately call them the angry little elves. They are at some level angry. Angry for having to look for a job, angry for being let go (sometimes angry for leaving a job on their own), angry that it is hard to write their resume, angry that they have to write it at all, angry for not hearing back for jobs they applied for – and this anger comes out at me.
It’s ok, I may be all of five feet tall, but I’m a big girl, I can take it. Anger is part of the process. I know it is not me specifically that they are angry at; it just spills out and I happen to be on the other end of the line.
I’m not a mechanical person so when I was growing up my dad took care of all things mechanical. A time or two I would be a little angry that he made something look so easy after I had struggled with it for a really long time. I would morph into an angry little elf. So I get it.
But, let’s cut to the chase here. All that anger that comes out at me is coming out in your resume, networking and job searching. You are being a resume and job searching hater. Don’t be a hater.
As a side note, my son is absolutely going to roll his eyes at me for trying to be clever in using “hater” in my blog. The joys of motherhood – how many times can I embarrass him or get him to roll his eyes?
Caveat: the following is presented in a very direct manner with sarcasm sprinkled in. It is not my intent to be mean, demeaning or unkind. Sometimes an explanation with a little bite is just what you need to snap out of it.
Here are some thoughts on how you could be perceived as being in hater mode and how to get out of it.
It Comes Through
Just as you form an image of a character you read in a novel, whomever is reading your resume is forming an image of you based on the words you choose. If you are in hater mode writing about your last position it will seep through. I can look at a resume and tell what jobs someone loved and which ones they hated. It is not a parlor trick, it is context and content.
Get in a neutral head space before you start to write anything about a job. Take your time and write everything you possibly can. It may be tempting to sit down at your resume and think you are going to just whip it out right then and there.
Two problems with this, you forget a lot of what you did and you put undue pressure on yourself. Drafts and revisions are necessary before you can finalize. I do this every day and I do not write in resume mode the first draft. There is a process, trust it and use it.
They Don’t Care What You Were Hired To Do
A quick way to be generic and irrelevant: use your bullet points to just list job duties, better yet, copy down your job description. Here is the thing: a prospective employer does not really care what you were hired to do because it does not tell them two things: if you really did it and if you were any good at it.
Instead, tell me how you did what you did, who you worked with, how you worked with them and the value that was received by someone in doing what you did. Let’s look at an example:
Responsible for recruiting for the state of Kentucky. Blah
Drove all recruiting efforts for the state Kentucky; elevated recruiting teams and campaigns in exceeding monthly expectations and earned Gold Star Award for most quality recruits in the organization for 2014.
Provide the value of you doing what you did, either to a company, client, individual, team or organization. There is value in there – tell them about it.
What Do You Want?
Many companies hire for various positions simultaneously, it is not the responsibility of the HR person to figure out what position you are targeting. Give them a break, huh? They see hundreds of resumes for just one position, now think about that quantity if they are hiring for multiple positions. Is it really fair to think they are going to read through your manifesto to see exactly where you fit in there?
Use a title if the position is a fit with your background or current position or incorporate the position into your opening statement. Give them something to work with.
How Do You Qualify?
I have heard from many HR professionals that they are amazed by some candidates because they are a zero match to the position for which they are applying. The comment I hear most is, “Did they even read the job description?”
Read it, know it and incorporate it. Find the key words and concepts and then incorporate them into your resume. If you do not have a leadership position but the position requires leadership qualities you can still incorporate this. Have you taken the lead on a project, initiative or team? Tell that story using the words that are in alignment with the position.
Stop Looking Back.- Write Forward (Part A)
It is very common to have a loopy, twisty, topsy-turvy road during your career. On the initial glance it makes no sense. Heck, you lived it and sometimes it still doesn’t make sense to you. If this is the case, how the heck are they supposed to interpret it?
Every step you took was one step closer to where you want to go. Your job is to connect the dots. There are common traits or skills used in these positions, find the alignment with where you want to go and write from that perspective. If the job you want requires good communication and team building skills then your job is to go back and find those qualities in your past positions and highlight them. This allows them to see you in that desired position.
It Is Your Job To Tell The Story, Not Theirs To Interpret It Correctly (Part B)
This is the most important thing I can tell you: this is your story, tell it the way you want them to interpret it. This is in direct alignment with the point above, just taking it a little deeper.
One big point of contention for some of the angry elves is that the reader should get it. They should be able to see how they qualify for the job, how they should be hired right now. Wrong. It is not their job to figure it out, it is your job to paint the picture.
I like art, but I get confused with abstracts. I will admit it. I have a good friend who is very arty and she has this knack for looking at something and “seeing” what is there. Me, it reminds me of my son’s grade school art. I am not going to get mad at the artist for not painting in a way that I get it because I am not his ideal audience. If you are perfect for the job is akin to a city scape then your resume should paint that picture – not one of an explosion in the Crayola factory.
First, stop apologizing for anything in your past. One of the best lines in a movie is when Simba is smacked in the head by Rafiki and he asks what that was for; Rafiki says, “It does not matter, it is in the past.” Take the apology out of it and write it for the value you gained. Find the connection to where you want to go and bring it together.
Get Over It.
You may have been fired, set up, had terrible co-workers or a boss that made Hades look like a kitten. None of that matters to a prospective employer or network contact. As hard as it is, and I know it can be hard, you have to let it go. (Great, now I have not only the Lion King soundtrack going in my mind, now Let It Go from Frozen is in there to!) Find the value and write to that.
I know it sounds easy for me to say just get over it, personally I know it is not easy. The best thing I found was to let it all out. I took a blank page and started writing everything I could about this position. It started out really angry elfish, but eventually after I got it all out, I was able to see incredible value in what I did, even if the bastards didn’t.
It Is Okay To Take A Break
Writing your resume, sending it out, networking and feeling like you are rejected by the unknown pit that never responds to your resume can take a toll. This can burn you out and easily give the impression of hater.
Give yourself a break, walk away, take a mini-vacation in your head. Stop looking for a day, take the dog on a walk, treat yourself to an ice cream, manicure or good book – whatever it is that puts the focus back on appreciating you and away from the drudgery. You need breaks to stay fresh.
Don’t Ask For Help If You Are Not Ready
Of course you are ready, you want a job, right? No. You are ready for help when you are appreciative and will follow through on it. You are not ready when you argue, find excuses or drop the ball.
I had a friend refer an acquaintance to me because the gentleman asked for help to transition from where he was to a better job. When I spoke to him, I went through his resume and highlighted the positives and made suggestions. It was met with a litany of excuses and angry justifications about how it is not his fault for not getting hired.
He completely blasted me and then did the same to my friend. This was a total disrespect for both of us as professionals and of our time. He was soon fired from his job and unable to secure a new position. He also frantically tried to enlist us again in assisting him, but we both politely declined.
Burn someone once; do not be surprised if they do not extend their hand again.
You Really Will Get What You Expect
My son hates when I say this. It has been proven in my life and the lives of many of my friends so often that it is firmly one of my truths. The most recent example is when we were driving home late at night and I said that our drive should be good (through very twisty roads in a heavily wooded area) as long as we don’t see any deer. I have a thing about deer jumping out in the road. We then turned the corner and there lay a deer. I corrected myself to say that we will have a nice, clear ride home. We did.
Now, that does not mean that the road will be all rosy, either.
I started in the financial industry, it was my first love. The last year was a tumultuous mess, far from rosy. But without those experiences I would not have met my true love: what I am doing now.
There will be bumps and unpleasantness. Instead of using those as excuses and using your best teenager voice to say, “See, I told you so!” look at them as opportunities. You went through three interviews and did not get the job? Great interviewing experience and possibly your name is on the top of the list for the next position.
Didn’t get that dream job, another will come up that may be completely different but lead you to where you will be happier. That dream job, by the way, could have ended two weeks after you took it.
Job searching is not fun and it is a job in itself. I have met very few people in my life that haven’t experienced it at one time or another. Most of us have been there – and we survived. We empathize and absolutely get hater mode. However, just because someone is sympathetic to your cause does not mean they will donate to it. Keep your head up, focus and have that one person that you can vent to so you can put on that strong, confident face for the rest of the market.