Tom Sweeney

It's a coming of age tale….

How do I market myself…

Posted by sweens on December 22, 2008

Well its beautiful day in the Nations Capital today and by beautiful I mean its ridiculously cold outside.  With the wind it must feel like -5000 degrees.  As I look out my window I see a man taking pictures on the roof of an adjacent building and suddenly I don’t feel so cold.  Now that my rant on the weather is over, I’d like to continue with todays posting where I’d like to talk about how an individual should market themselves to a prospective employer, or in my case, to a recruiter.  I think the question everyone should be asking themselves before they hit ‘submit’ on any application is: What seperates my resume from the 10, 100 or 1000 other applicants that want this job?

I don’t mean to stereotype everyone that applies for a job because some people are really good at resume writing and know how to market themselves, but there are others who simply have a generic resume and apply to numerous jobs.  Let me give you an example of what I mean.  I recently was searching for 3 positions at the same time.  One was for a Project Manager, one was for an IT Director type role and the third was for someone to manage an IT Portfolio.  Now many of the responsibilites for each job required non IT skills such as managing teams, project planning and budgeting but when I break down the titles of each position all three jobs are very different and would require a different career path in order to reach each position.  With all that being said, I probably received applications from 15 people that applied for all three jobs.  As a recruiter that doesn’t make me feel very good. 

The reason it doesn’t make me feel very good is that when I am looking to staff any position, I am looking to find ‘THE’ candidate and not just someone who can do the job.  I am a big believer that there is a job out there that is a match for everyone, but every job doesn’t match every person.  Put yourself in the eyes of the recruiter or company before you submit your resume.  If I’m looking for a project manager, I feel great when a resume comes across my desk that says I’ve been a project manager in these 10 roles, I’m PMP certified and I’m part of the Project Management Institute.  Why does that make me feel good.  1)  It demonstrates that you have been performing a project management role in your last 10 positions.  2) It means you have taken personal time to get certified.  3) You are committed to continually updating your skills.  But does that mean a 20 year sales manager isn’t just as qualified to do the same job?  Not necessarily.  The sales manager has probably done project management for 15 of those 20 years and has more professional IT experience.  So where’s the problem?

 The problem is that the majority of people who have been with a company for the long term (See previous positing – but I’m referring to companies like Nortel, Cognos, Bell, etc) have been involved in so many different responsibilities that they are unable to focus on one particular skill set when they apply for a new position.  Let’s continue with a project management position for a minute – when I am screening a project management role I’m looking for someone’s resume who reads as a project manager and not as someone who has been a manager but done project management.  As the two are very different.  Is that necessarily the best way to do things?  No, but I do know that my clients have a screener on their end (who may know absolutely nothing about the role) who will be reviewing resumes of candidates I put in front of them, and they are going to be looking for what the job description says in someones resume.

So what can someone do to increase their chances of getting through the door and further into the process.  The simple answer is take some time and make your resume as pointed as possible.  Your resume should reflect the position you are applying for and shouldn’t be a generic resume where your just hoping to get through the door.  As I mentioned in an earlier posting, it is a recruiters job to read between the lines and dig more out of your resume, however your resume is being considered against hundreds or thousands of resumes so it may not be in your best interest to float in a generic resume.  Before we go any further I should say that fabricating information on your resume to better align you with a position is not a good thing.  It will always come out and won’t work out in your favour.  The suggestion I am perhaps offering is that if you have done project management in a previous position and you are looking for a project management position, then make sure your resume says: “At this job I was doing project management, here’s how I did it, and here’s what I accomplished with it.”  If you leave your resume stating ‘Software Manager’ (for example) can you really expect a recruiter to assume that you were involved in project management while performing that position?  I think a good way to look at it would be that someone took the time to create a job description so you may want to take a bit of time making sure your resume reflects the requirements on that job description.  A little bit of work on the front end may save you a lot of work on the back end. 

How can you do that?  Simple, create a generic resume and save it.  When you then go to apply for a job save a new version that is slightly tailored for the specific job you are applying for.  As a closing note I would like to mention something that touches on my earlier comment of trying to find THE right employee.  I think applicants should take a second to consider that with the current economic situation spending for any company is most likely going to be tighter then in previous years.  Which means that an employer is going to need to feel very secure and confident about hiring someone.  A strong resume can be your first step to demonstrating why someone should put their confidence in you!


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