Are you getting interviews but hearing that you did not get the job because another person had skills and experience that more closely matched what the company wanted?
A common mistake many people in mid-career make is to spread the net wide and apply for any job they think they can do.
If a recruiter or employer decides that your skills and experience might be a close match to what the employer wants, they may decide to interview you. At this point, you need to realize that you are now competing with many other candidates who, like you, sent their resume the same way you did.
Employers usually will have a very specific list of what they want. When they are using recruiters, the recruiters will present candidates that match as closely as possible to what the employer wants. Since the recruiters are paid by the employers, recruiters are not generally encouraged to present capable candidates that are outside of what the employer says they want.
When enough candidates apply for the job, those that have the skills, experience and industry background that matches precisely what the employer wants are the ones the employer sees. If the employer selects someone from that list, that is the end.
In those few situations when the employer is not able to find candidates that match exactly what they want, they decide what requirements they will reconsider to broaden the search. If your resume does not match their new requirements, you were never really in the running for the job anyway.
If the employer decides to hire someone they have seen at this point, that is it. As you might still be in the pool of candidates that have applied but didn’t match one or more of the employer’s requirements, the person who makes the hiring decision will never get to see your resume, even if you might have been the best person for the job.
You may, not always, hear back from the recruiter or the employer that they decided to “hire another candidate who had the skills and experience that more closely matched what the employer wanted.” They will not tell you the real reason, whether you were even being considered, or the decision criteria.
If the above scenario has happened to you more than once and you are now tired of being screened out and want to hear more positive messages, you will need to change your career search strategy. Here are some suggestions that will improve your success:
- Identify and clearly describe the position you want, your strongest capabilities, what you really like doing, and what you want to do in another job.
- List your top three skills that you are best at doing and want to do. Others who know you (your referrals) would agree that these are what you are best at doing.
- Describe the industry in which you have most of your experience, where you can compete with the best at this level and hold your own. Describe it specifically. Don’t just say “manufacturing.” Even apparel manufacturing may be too broad. Men’s apparel, women’s fashion, children’s, or sports apparel manufacturing are examples of different industries from the employers’ perspective. Every company thinks their industry is unique and it is their belief, not yours, that counts.
- Prepare two or three achievement stories that demonstrate what you are best at doing in your industry. The stories should demonstrate the three skills you identified so a reader will accept that you really are good at what you are telling them.
You are now ready to prepare you resume. Follow the guidance in the Career Center under Resumes. Think of your resume as your brochure. Company brochures feature what they are best at doing. Your resume needs to reflect what you are best at doing and where you want to work. You should need only one resume.
When you talk to others about the position you are seeking follow the four points above. You should now be more comfortable sharing your resume because it will support what you have told others. Focus your search only on those jobs where your resume supports what you are best at doing in the industry where you have most of your experience. If you are experiencing difficulty in being able to focus on what you are best at doing or you want to change careers, look in the Career Center for more help.