J Patrick + Associates Blog

4 Ways to Get Noticed! Stop Baking Up the Same Cookie Cutter Resume

Posted by Elissa Jane Mastel on Wed, Sep 21, 2011 @ 04:02 PM

resume job


Today's HR professionals can feel the constant shifts of the ground beneath them. Everything is in flux.  The job market has shifted dramatically over the past few years. As AI takes center stage in both the tech world and everywhere downstream of it (which is, you know, everywhere), recruiting professionals are left with the dizzying task of finding qualified people to fill jobs that are no longer what they once were, and won’t be what they currently are for long. 

In case you’ve never thought about it, HR professionals post jobs that thousands of candidates peruse and submit resumes to. They then sort through those thousands of resumes in search of a diamond. The problem here is that diamonds are small and easy to miss when they’re hidden in mountains of coal and cubic zirconia. There must be a way to make your resume shimmer enough to catch these prospectors’ eyes. 

If you’re a graphics person, you can always send out cleverly branded and watermarked resumes, but what about the rest of us?  How can we stand out? We need an “it” factor, the written equivalent of a pocket square. 

If you're applying for jobs and not getting any feedback, it could be that you’re using a cookie-cutter cover letter and resume that are also being deployed by thousands of your peers.  HR people are painfully aware that most people blast off the same content to dozens of jobs without stopping to consider their target audience. They’re sifting through 1000s of resumes for haystack needles, for the candidate who looks like they were ready to begin yesterday. 

The question, then, is how to create that impression of readiness in a way that is eye-catching without being so eccentric that it’s repellent. For starters, consider taking the following suggestions:

  1. Read the Job Description.  This seems too elementary to explain, but many people apply for jobs that sort of look like they might be right for them. This is understandable if you are looking for a job because you don’t currently have one. Unfortunately, shouting “please just give me a job!” at the sky and blasting reems of resumes into the void doesn’t work that well. Read the fine print, see if the job is really the right fit for your skill set, expertise, experience, and interests. If so, take the time to customize your resume. If not, forgo the spray-and-pray and continue your search. 

  2. Write a New Cover Letter.  You've read the job description and decided that the job is as good a fit for you as you are for it. GREAT!  Now, write HR and tell them.  Be straight up. Point out all the outstanding reasons why you'd be the perfect candidate for the job.  Not any job, but their job. Note the details they mentioned in the job description and demonstrate how you're a match.  In other words, make their job easy.

  3. Show, Don't Tell.  Your resume is a highlight reel of your career.  Show that you really fit their description. If the company wants to know if you've worked with big budgets, show them by highlighting when and how you've worked with big budgets in your resume.  Include specifics. By highlighting your specific experiences as they relate to their position, you're making it easy for them to want to meet you.
  4. Trick Out Your LinkedIn Page.  I can't tell you how many people don't take advantage of all the cool features LinkedIn offers.  You can upload portfolios, graphics, job descriptions, get recommendations, and more. Just make sure all the details are up to date and match your resume.  

Take your time while you search for work.  Think quality, not quantity.  By refusing to contribute to the deluge of mediocre matches, you are taking a strategic stance with your career search that will put you in a much better position than the alternative approach. Keep in mind that you deserve to find the right fit.

Tags: Job Search, HR and Hiring, Resume Optimization