Now is the time of year that employers are getting ready to hire — one way or another. The popular thinking is that managers hold off through the holiday season, waiting on colleagues and decision-makers to return from vacation in advance of a January and February hiring boom. Some recruiters call that a myth, saying December can be a key hiring month like any other if a company has unfilled positions.
Plus, an added bonus to job searching in December and January is that there are fewer people doing the same — giving you a way to stand out and show initiative.
In either case, the time between Thanksgiving and New Years is crucial for job seekers to get their resumes ready. HR workers and hiring managers may be considering candidates when you least expect them to — and they’ll definitely be reviewing applicants soon during the time we usually consider as hiring season.
Tidy up that resume
If you’re thinking about diving into the market for a new job, heed the advice of recruiters for tidying up your resume, as well as some of these tips that can help job seekers who are green or experienced.
Consider the recruiter’s perspective
You’ve probably heard before that recruiters and employers only spend a handful of seconds reviewing resumes up front. Make it your goal to ensure that those few moments are well-spent. Ask yourself this: Is my resume arranged so that a recruiter or hiring manager can pick out key details that they need to know? Does it explain how my qualifications and experiences match the job I’m applying for? Does it get to the point quickly?
Here are some particulars to keep in mind:
- Take it from the top: If a recruiter or hiring manager only gives a resume a quick once-over, it’s best to make sure the strongest details are emphasized at the top. That goes for two things: your work history, and the first few words of each bullet point. Ideally, your most recent job should relate to the gig you’re applying for — and it should be at the top of your ‘experience’ section. Also, don’t waste words describing your roles and responsibilities. ‘When skimming a resume, a recruiter is very likely going to be reading the first few words of a bullet, then moving on to the next line unless his or her interest is piqued,’ one career development specialist at MIT advises. ‘This means those first few words of your bullets are much more important than the rest.’
- Build a narrative: A recruiter is going to want to see progress in your work history, and it should point directly toward the job opening. So do your best to build a narrative with your experience. For example, if you’re in the marketing industry but a have a couple of job experiences only touching on marketing, do your best to describe how the non-marketing jobs relate to your core profession. Not every career path is linear, but you should demonstrate how you’ve aquired the necessary experiences and skills along the way!
- Keywords: Resumes should have keywords and jargon relevant to the industry (for example, engineering and the sciences) — but put them in context. Demonstrate how they’re relevant to your experiences or skills. ‘[I]f you’re thinking you should ‘key word’ it up on your resume, think again. Keep it authentic,’ one engineering recruiter says.
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The social web should be a benefit, not a hazard
Anyone who has grown up in the social media age has heard the warnings about what you post on the Internet. But here’s the thing: While the web, particularly the social web, has to be navigated carefully, it can also be a huge benefit to career changes and job searches.
Additionally, Twitter can be leveraged to make contacts and participate in discussions relevant to your field. Let’s say you’re a techie and there’s a big conference this weekend. Almost all of these sorts of functions have hashtags associated with them nowadays — follow the hashtag, see who is tweeting about it, and get involved!
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Solving the experience problem
Tell us if you’re heard this one before: You’re a recent graduate, but the ‘entry level’ positions you see advertised all require a couple of years of experience. This is an intimidating barrier to a young professional. Fortunately, ‘experience’ isn’t necessarily what it seems.
Internships, volunteering, job shadowing — all of these things certainly count as experience on a resume. Certain recruiters and hiring managers may value them less than others, but they’re crucial components of a resume for someone just starting out. Certifications and participation in organizations relevant to your particular field are also resume boosters.
The answer to work experience conundrum is simple, the education portal WorldWideLearn states: ‘To gain the applicable work experience and transferable skills you need, you have to be willing to explore opportunities that aren’t obvious.’
Don’t neglect networking
A great resume will only get job hunters so far, oftentimes. That’s why Clark says networking is still the key to landing that desirable job. ‘In short, any method that gets you in front of people will work. Not trying to apply electronically to somebody who doesn’t know you.’
Happy hunting — and be confident!