For the past few days or weeks, you’ve spent hours applying for jobs on the net, submitting resumes on career websites. You have been constantly building more relationships on LinkedIn to get your foot in the door at your potential next employer. Between evaluating companies for their cultures, reading the reviews on Glassdoor and estimating your next salary on Salary.com, you have become impatient. When would a recruiter finally dial your number and reach you? Isn’t time for someone to give you a chance to prove your worth? Should you simply keep applying for jobs, networking and just waiting?
Do those questions strike a chord? My guess is, for most of you, you’ve connected even at a minimal level. When seeking new employment, we all go through the grueling phase that unfairly test our patience, at least that’s what it seems like. Well, it’s inevitable, it’s part of the process. Truthfully, although our patience is tested and we’re asking ourselves those questions, the true important concern should be ‘Are we ready to make a lasting impression’. See, no matter what the role you’re applying for is, at some point in the early parts of the interview process, you will be asked something similar to this: “tell me about yourself”, “tell me about your current role”, “how does your background relate to the job?”, “why are you applying to this position?”. Do you feel confident that your answer can make you pocket a potential offer? We don’t usually think that far but your answer to this question is pivotal in the interview process. When you are preparing for a date, you carefully plan your first impression, those first few seconds and minutes that have the potential of changing your life. The same goes for business meetings and appointments. On the phone with a recruiter, your carefully crafted ‘story’ is your first impression. Granted you’ve already done all the right things (being on time for the call, avoiding background noise and distractions, etc.), this [your background story] is one of the most important key points of the interview. Yes, I’m calling it a story because it is. It is the story of your experience up to this point and to catch a potential employer’s attention, it must be quite compelling. If done right, the rest of the interview will simply be, in your advantage, a reason for the recruiter to have you come in for an in-person meeting.
So how do you effectively formulate an attractive story that keeps a listener attention? Glad you asked. First, let me clear out any incorrect assumption. Your background is not fictional, it’s not a compilation of events or accomplishments that have never happened, made up just for the purpose of locking in another step in the interview process. You should never lie during an interview as it may backfire. When it does, it could be detrimental. The object of your background story is to relate your experience to the prospective role, in a way that is compelling, effective, powerful and worthy of further consideration.
Let’s get started.
Carefully study the job posting description and relate your resume to it.
Business Analyst, Data Analyst, Analyst, Management Analyst, do they indicate the same role? Probably not. Does the expectation of once company vary from the other and can it be similar to another role with a different title? Yes, and yes. The truth is, with so much change in the workplace today and the advancement of technology that redefines traditional roles, companies come up with new titles all the time. So, before you click ‘submit’ on that job application, carefully read the job description and requirements.
Over the years, I’ve made a habit of copying and pasting a job posting that I’m very interested in onto a page in a Word document. Then I highlighted the important phrases and relate my resume to those accordingly. If there is no correlation between your experience and the expectations, why would a recruiter call you? Should a hiring manager reach out to you for an accounting role when your resume highlights your accounts payable experience? They would be taking a chance if they decided to contact you…and trust me, they most likely won’t.
So here comes the unnerving question: should you change your resume every time you apply for a role? In my opinion, you don’t have because you may not need to. If applying for the Treasury Analyst role at separate companies, your current resume may match both job descriptions. However, in many cases, some tweaks are necessary.
Create a chronological history of your career in a way that the position you’re applying for is a logical continuation to your work experience.
Great storytellers captivate your attention, they draw every moment of your listening to the next word that they say, leaving you impatiently wondering what comes next and how the story ends. When finally, the story is over, you are left in awe, not only by its compelling aspect but also by the cleverness of the orator. Does your answer to ‘tell me about yourself’ sound anything like that? If the answer is no, then read.
Your career story must be attractive and compelling. Saying that you started as a Payroll Data Entry Specialist and moved up to a Payroll Manager in a few years is not quite as compelling as noting how as a Payroll Data Entry Specialist, you worked closely with your then manager and the accounting team to understand the payroll posting process and its impact on the finances of the company. Explaining how your experience in sales and later in corporate banking, analyzing financial statements, opened the door for you to a Treasury Analyst role is much more interesting than saying that you advised business owners on how to get approved to business loans. I hope you’re getting my point.
Sometimes, job changes within a company are a powerful tool to use when conveying your worthiness for a role. Use that experience to emphasize that your current employer recognized the value in promoting you to more responsibilities. Show your uniqueness. Once you’ve proven the value of your past experiences, go further. How does it apply to the job you’re postulating for? If you’re applying for a Treasury Analyst role, your experience as a corporate banker is a great asset for any company as you understand how to deal with banks and how to negotiate deals. Highlight the points that qualify you for the job, but also bring an asset.
I hope you now understand the importance of your ‘story’, a chronological and compelling recapitulation of your career. Put it all in a few sentences and if needed, memorize it. Trust me, this will make you bank jobs without trying. It will put you on the map, leaving your inbox full of inquiries from recruiters.
You are now equipped, ready to win your next interview process. Act and I would love to hear about your experience.