In previous articles, we discussed "8 Resume Missteps You Didn't Even Know You Were Making" and how your resume is less about you and more about marketing your skills: A well-crafted resume is about what the company needs, which is why focusing on the company's needs will work to your advantage. This strategy becomes clearer once you understand how the hiring manager is really going to be using your resume throughout the hiring process.
Ultimately, your resume can advocate for you during the entire candidate selection process: before, during, and after the interview.
At this stage, your resume is selling your skills and marketing you as a viable candidate. While most job seekers are quite familiar with this aspect of the process, many stop thinking about the impact their resume will have once it's been submitted for an opportunity.
The employer is looking for a group of solid candidates to interview. The hiring manager wants a candidate with the right skills and some strong contributions that demonstrate they are able to make a positive impact. The hiring manager will be screening and sorting candidates in order to have a manageable group of interviewees. Therefore, during the process of reviewing the resume, any screen-out factors such as gaps in work history, job hopping, or overlapping tenures will simply encourage the hiring manager to move on to other applicants.
You can give them what they want by making sure your resume includes specifics that relate to the position type and that support your skills and achievements. Additionally, make sure you've effectively addressed the five common screen-out factors or seek professional resume writing experts to ensure your resume is fully optimized and well written.
Often, job seekers don't realize that the resume plays a key role in setting the agenda for the actual interview. It makes sense once you think about it: The logical starting place for a conversation about your unique skills and background is with the resume you provided and, as such, your resume needs to guide the interviewer toward your strengths and away from any potential liabilities.
The employer is looking for a conversation that reinforces and expands upon the details in the resume. Interviewers will ask questions about the examples provided. For instance, they may seek more information about the processes you used, how you resolved issues, and the nature of the impacts. Additionally, they may ask you for more examples so that they better understand how your contributions are repeatable.
You can give them what they want by focusing on examples that you consider your "hallmark" achievements or projects. This allows you to have some control as to how the interview proceeds while still selling your skills effectively. Furthermore, take time to review your resume before the interview and consider how you will respond to their requests for additional information. Resumes tend to focus on the outcome, or results, of a particular challenge: be prepared to discuss the process (e.g., planning, implementation, tracking) you followed to achieve results. Your goal is to show them that your efforts were (at least in part) responsible for the success of your team!
Just because the interview is over, doesn't mean your resume is now irrelevant. Most likely, you were among a group of candidates interviewed, and the hiring manager now has a decision to make.
The employer is looking for a reminder about your specific experience and contributions as well as the details discussed during the interview. The hiring manager is also weighing your assets and risks against those of the other finalists. While at this stage the interview experience plays a significant role in the decision-making process, the hiring manager will contrast the "whole package" of you against the other finalists. In addition to their interview notes, your resume will serve as a selling tool of your skills, attitude, dedication, and/or expertise that you will add to their team. Prior to extending an offer for a position, the resume has the potential to impact the total compensation or proposed salary.
You can give them what they want by making sure that your resume is a balance of core responsibilities and achievements to ensure that, upon review, they have a sense of you as a whole. It is often beneficial at this stage to provide some additional reinforcement: for example, a great way to stand out is to send a strategic follow-up letter that, among other points, references the interview and returns the hiring manager's attention to your qualifications as they relate to the position.
It also helps to keep in mind that the most qualified candidate is not always the person who is offered a position: Hiring managers will consider your capacity to do a job, which can also include your long-term motivation, ability to integrate into their team, openness to direction and learning, and salary expectations. By making sure that your resume is clearly focused on the type of position you've targeted, you will give the hiring manager a clear frame of reference for your abilities and motivation as well as much to consider when determining who is selected or the compensation package offered.
Your resume will also serve as a foundation, along with other internal documents such as your job description and performance reviews, for future positions / promotions. So while a resume's immediate function is to effectively market your skills and strengths, it has the potential to continue impacting your career well beyond the first interview.