February ended on a positive note for the unemployment rate, which fell to 7.7%. Here are some resume and interview tricks and tips for those 12 million still seeking work in the U.S.
Continue Reading Below
February’s jobs data was much better than expected with employers adding 236,000 jobs in the month--pushing the unemployment rate to a four-year-low of 7.7%. While this is a big improvement for the anemic labor market, there are still 12 million people looking for work in the U.S.
The Great Recession has changed the job market and companies’ hiring practices as they try to do more with less. Hiring managers today are looking to get things done as quickly and efficiently as possible, says Roy Cohen , career coach and author of The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide. Companies want to hire people who can solve problems, so it’s important candidates prove their value if they want to make payroll.
“Show what you can do and how well you do it,” Cohen says. “Companies are looking for solutions and are hiring fewer people to do more work. You need to be able to show that you can produce results.”
Job hunters need to be make sure their resume shows their value add proposition (VAP), recommends career coach Darnell Clarke. “This is your differentiation strategy and will set you apart from everyone else.”
Here are Cohen and Clarke’s tips for those still looking for work on how to update their resume and interviewing skills:
UPDATING THE RESUME
Be current. In today’s tech-driven world, Cohen advises older candidates to avoid dating themselves. “When you incorporate your legacy experience, it may make you appear less relevant,” he says. “What I care about as a hiring manager is what you can do for me right now.”
He suggests focusing on the immediate past and eliminating experiences from 10-to-15 years ago if they are not relevant. This also includes taking down graduation dates. “Unless you are a new grad, it’s irrelevant.”
Be explicit in your skills. Candidates must show employers what they can do and how they will enhance a team. “I have little tolerance for resumes that are not explicit in what they are telling the world they will do,” Cohen says. “You are pursuing a specific target, so use specific language and details.”
Don’t get super fancy. For the most part, Clarke says the resume is not all it’s made out to be. “Many people think resumes are all-important…any format that describes your information in a concise way is fine. It’s more about connecting what you have done to results that saved the company money or helped do things faster.”
GET THE INTERVIEW RIGHT
Nail the pitch. Clarke says job seekers’ No.1 goal should be proving they can make the hiring manager more money faster. “Describe what your strengths are,” he says. “If you cannot do this, you don’t have a differentiator strategy.”
Meld experience with benefit. Listing past experiences won’t help get the job, candidates must prove how previous workloads will help an employer’s bottom line and strategic plan, Cohen says.
“Thoroughly research the company, its issues and challenges and be able to figure out how you can fit into that story,” he says.
Avoid the ‘parent problem.’ It can be easy to get excited and end up talking over the interviewer and not even realize it, but this not interview-acceptable behavior, says Cohen.
“We may not realize it in an interview, but it’s unpleasant as an interviewer to be with a candidate that isn’t paying attention to social queues.”