Dear Sam: I recently read a job posting and thought, “I can do that!” I don’t have formal experience performing in a role like that, but I know I can do it. I applied for the position and never heard back. Do you know what the reason might be? — Confused
Dear Confused: I hear this same story over and over again. I understand you don’t want to close any doors, but it’s critical to target your resume in order to get a response.
We only need one job, so why apply to 200 positions each week to get one or two interviews when you can target your candidacy, apply to five postings each week, and get the same one or two interviews — possibly more — based on your messaging abilities?
Let me explain why applying for a job you think you are qualified for, but have never actually done, doesn’t work unless you target. You must, of course, be able to meet the requirements for the role, but more importantly, you must be able to speak the language of the job posting.
Can you talk about your experience in the same language as the job posting? Can you outmaneuver other job candidates who may come from a very similar line of work? Remember, it’s not about you thinking you can do something — it’s about your being able to paint a picture of how you are the most qualified person for the role based on the uniqueness and relevance of your background.
I’m not saying you can’t be competitive when transferring into a new field, but you must target in order to promote the most relevant skills and experiences from your candidacy.
I was speaking with a young lady recently, and when I asked what her career target was, it became clear that her goal was to just get a job, and that she would apply to anything and everything. Given her eclectic mix of experiences, lack of robust experience in recent years, and all-over-the-map image she was painting on her resume, I explained how keeping her options open in order to open doors was actually doing the opposite.
I explained that she must focus and target her resume. Otherwise, a hiring manager would be left to judge her based solely on past experiences — and not the transferability of those experiences to something different. She would only receive a positive response from audiences seeking someone for the roles she had performed in the past.
Given that was not what she wanted, I explained the importance of looking at her experiences from different points of view. This would help her transition the presentation of her background to create relevance for the reviewer.
Be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking you are qualified and hoping a hiring manager will see it. Instead, target your candidacy and show hiring managers how you are qualified so there is no question that you can do the job. Career changes are definitely possible — you just have to be a little more strategic about presenting your candidacy.
Samantha Nolan is a certified professional résumé writer and owner of Ladybug Design, a leading résumé-writing firm. Do you have a résumé or job-search question for Dear Sam? Reach Samantha at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more about Sam’s résumé-writing services, visit www.ladybug-design.comor call
(614) 570-3442 or 1-888-9-LADYBUG (1-888-952-3928).