Are you in career transition, but frustrated because you’re sending out your CV or resume, and you’re not getting interviews?
Here are three things you can do to get better results from your written career documents.
It’s not easy to evaluate a situation objectively when your frustration levels are high. There are many reasons why your CV or resume does not get the results you expect, even when you’re a good fit for the positions you are applying for.
Not all these are under your control.
Focus first on the things you can control, beginning with the three below.
1. Check All your Career Documents for Unintentional Errors or Discrepancies
Examine the written career documents you already have. Your resume or CV. Your cover letters. Your thank you letters and e-notes. Your bio. Your networking letters and e-notes. Your online profiles. Do they have errors? Are there discrepancies in the information?
Nowadays, the resume or CV that you submit is only part of your written career communication. Employers will also be looking at other information about you, such as your social media profiles.
It’s not enough make sure that the career documents you send are free from unintentional typographical errors. You also need to look at all your information.
Your online profiles should not be a replication of your formal resume or CV. They’re not the same.
But there should not be any discrepancies that prompt your readers to doubt the information you are sharing.
For example, are the dates of employment and education in agreement across different documents and profiles? If you write your own career documents, be sure to find someone to edit and check for you.
It’s too easy to miss our own mistakes because of how the brain processes information. We excel at filling in the gaps which makes it hard to detect errors! But your readers won’t do the same. Errors and discrepancies will stand out.
One of the important functions of your written documents is to present you as someone who is trustworthy. Don’t let avoidable errors or discrepancies get in the way.
2. Communicate to Differentiate Yourself from Candidates Who Also Meet the Job Requirements
Once you are sure your career documents are error-free and aligned with each other, it’s time for a deeper evaluation. It’s time to consider whether or not you are differentiating yourself in the market. Are you writing in a way that engages the person who is reading the information you have presented in your resume or CV?
To do this, try to put yourself in the shoes of the person whose job it is to shortlist a small group of applicants for interview. Depending on the organization, this may also be the person making hiring decisions. Or it may not.
In larger organizations, several people will be involved at different stages of the process. It’s likely that Applicant Tracking Systems will be in use. Your information may be machine read in the early stages. Hopefully, you already understand this organization’s recruitment process as part of your company research.
Assuming that you have passed the initial screen and meet the requirements for the position, it’s essential to differentiate yourself. What do you offer that will distinguish you from the other candidates who also meet the requirements for the position?
It’s not uncommon for experienced professionals to struggle with this question. First, it’s hard for us to see ourselves objectively. It’s common to take our strengths for granted, and assume they are shared by others.
Employers are not just looking for the job-specific knowledge and skills that you bring. They are also looking for so-called “soft skills.” Are your career documents showing these in a credible way?
For instance, it’s not enough say you have leadership skills. Give a specific example of when you took on a leadership role. Explain how it made a difference – a difference to outcomes that are relevant to this employer. Don’t limit yourself to saying you’re a team player. Tell a story of when you worked in a team in a way that helped your project succeed.
Nobody has exactly the same experience as you. Do the preparation needed to bring your experience to life. Make your written career communication compelling. If you’re struggling with this, ask for help from a trusted mentor with experience of hiring, or from a career coach.
Learning how to tell your career story effectively is something that will serve you well at all stages of your career.
3. Write for your Audience – Communicate with a Specific Employer
You write your resume or CV for a specific employer. The more you know about that employer, the easier it will be to communicate effectively with them. As mentioned above, you need to know about the recruitment and selection process. But to create effective written career communication, you need to know much more than that.
You need to know about this organization. Company research is an essential part of your preparation, including creating targeted career communication. Of course you want to show best self in your CV or resume. But it’s important to remember that you are also trying building a relationship with a prospective employer. Think of your written career communication as a foundation for the two-way communication that will follow.
Have you written in a way that tells the person reading your information that you understand the challenges they are facing? This is particularly important if you’re changing direction or seeking promotion. If you don’t yet have a good grasp of the employer’s most important issues and how the role you are applying for fits in, then do some more research. This will take time, but the benefit will be that will be able to communicate much more effectively.
Resumes and CV’s are often talked about as marketing documents. It’s true that your goal is to influence those who read your materials. But you’re not just writing about yourself. Think about your audience. If you align what you offer with what is important to prospective employers, your communication will be much more effective.
Summary: 3 Changes to Get Better Results from Your Written Career Communication
Persistence can help you reach your career goals. But, if you’re disappointed with your results, take a step back. Don’t let pressure keep you going down the wrong path.
Instead, take an objective look at what you are doing. It’s easy to get discouraged and respond by trying to do more or push harder.
If you do these three things — eliminate errors, differentiate yourself from other job candidates, and write for a specific employer — you will be in a much stronger position to achieve your career goals.
Begin by listing all your written career documents (online and off line). Look at them side by side. Fix any discrepancies.
Career & Work Life Matters, ISSN 2150-6299, Vol 7, no. 3
About the Author
Jennifer Bradley, Ph.D. helps professionals lead their own careers, empowered with the information, tools, and resources that they need. She offers individual coaching and consulting, teaches classes, and publishes articles on career development and career transition.
Are you new to the Career & Work Life Matters Blog?
Discover more about your career management skills by completing your personal Scorecard.
Fill this form for Free Access to your Career Scorecard.