By J.T. O’Donnell, Founder & CEO, Work It Daily
If I had a dollar for every time a job seeker has said to me, “I’m not getting any calls for interviews, I think it’s my resume.” I’d be rich. Sadly, job seekers today don’t realize (yet) the resume is no longer the most important tool for job search. It doesn’t matter how much you try to make your resume look impressive. The truth is, if your job search strategy consists of blindly applying to jobs online, no amount of fiddling with your resume format will significantly improve your chances of getting a phone call.Throwing money at the problem by hiring someone else to do it for you is even worse. (FYI – I have a lot of resume writers pretty angry with me right now for saying that.)
There’s a reason 80% of all jobs are gotten via referral today.
In a time when technology is supposed to make the process of finding a new job easier, it’s really creating a lot of stress and feelings of failure for those in the hunt for work. That’s because the applicant tracking systems (ATS) companies used to manage the overwhelming number of resumes recruiters receive are designed to screen you out, not screen you in. The result? Many qualified candidate’s resumes never get seen by a human eye. Moreover, the recruiting industry has plenty of evidence to show the best hires come from employee referrals. And therefore, they tend to focus their efforts on getting more of those than getting blurry-eyed going through the thousands of applications that came in for their open positions – most of which aren’t a match. Think about it this way.
When a recruiter gets a referral, they look at your resume differently.
Imagine I’m a recruiter trying to fill an important role. And Jack, a highly respected employee comes into my office with the resume of a friend or former colleague. Not only am I going to look at it, I’m going to view it through a rose-colored lens. Why? Jim’s success at the company will make me believe he knows what kind of talent we need. And therefore, I’ll be more open-minded when he explains why, let’s call her Jill, would be ideal for the job. Instead of looking for things on her resume that don’t make her qualified, I’ll be looking for things that do. Therein lies the real reason referrals matter so much in your job search.
So, how can you leverage the power of referrals in your job search?
Want to get hired? Create an interview bucket list.
I tell clients having an interview bucket list is the most important job search tool you can have today. It’s a list of companies you’d like to work for. They earn a spot on your list because you can personally explain how you feel connected to their products and services. In other words, you identify deeply with why the company exists. Why does this matter? Employers hire based on personality, aptitude and experience. When you can share in detail why you feel like part of the employer’s tribe, it will be easier for you to properly showcase your professionals strengths and personal connection to their mission. Especially, how you fit in with their corporate culture.
You’re only 3 degrees of separation away from your next employer.
Once you have this list, you can strategically share it with people in your network to see if they can introduce you to people working there. Studies by LinkedIn show these types of introductions, known as “weak ties” are one of the most popular forms of employee referral that lead to getting hired.
As we say at Work It Daily, “When it comes to your career, your network is your net worth.” The more focused and intentional you can be when tapping our network for job search help, the better the results.
In summary, if you’re looking for a job, stop wasting time agonizing over your resume. Instead, focus on ways you can get it directly in the hands of recruiters and hiring managers via your connections.