Go to any website offering job advice and they’ll most likely say very similar things. Your resume, or CV depending on part of the world and/or job experience, should have active verbs with results-driven content. It shouldn’t be more than 2 pages, should look tidy, be in a readable font and yadda, yadda, yadda. The same goes for the cover letter, which you should always write for a job application. Do some research on the company (or individual), ideally address it to the hiring manager and include why you would be an excellent fit for the job and how you will help them.
The problem with these sites and the information available is that they almost all tell you the same stuff. Which means everyone is doing the same thing. Nothing stands out — at least on an initial eye test. Sure, there will be some aesthetic differences, but for the most part they’re the same.
Which is probably why most hiring managers and recruitment agencies run resumes through software programmes that search for key words and phrases. If you don’t tailor your resume to fit the keywords and data points you’ll get immediate rejections (often without even an email saying you haven’t got the job).
If you do pass that initial test then an actual human will read your resume. Maybe, if you’re lucky, at that point you’ll get called in for an interview. I’ve talked about interviewing and feedback in previous posts, so I won’t go over that now. If you can make it to the interview stage congratulations.
I’ve been having trouble even doing that. I’ve been applying for writing, editing, marketing and media jobs. I’ve got quite a bit of experience doing all those things, having worked in marketing for a media company for a few years, writing a thesis and editing a journal. I also do some volunteering in similar fields.
But for some reason my resume isn’t sticking out. I hope it’s only a momentary lapse. There’s definitely an art to applying for jobs. You need something to stand out. Hitting the keywords is the first step, but there needs to be something else. There was a guy who got hired at GQ by creating a GQ-style resume. There have been other similar stories about really creative people going above and beyond for their dream job. Obviously it can work in some instances. But for most of us we either don’t have the inclination, skill to create that type of thing, time or knowledge on how to do it. So we go with the standard cover letter and resume applications.
In the meantime, I kind of feel like this meme.