When you’re very little, the world is so very big. When adults would ask you what you wanted to be when you grew up, your answer could change daily. A chef one day, a sheriff the next and a teacher still next. As you got older and realized that you need to be able to support yourself and maybe a family, your dreams might have changed a little bit and you still might not be sure what you want to be when you grow up — and that’s okay! It’s all right to find yourself at a professional crossroads, even healthy. It means that you are trying to make a mature decision and are weighing what is most important to you.
Today’s job applicants are not the same ones from even ten years ago. Gone are the days that you walk into a location, ask for an application, fill it out and return it to a prospective employer. Nowadays 79% of people use social media in their job search, meaning that applicants are checking sites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor to find applications. On the other end of the spectrum, the process of narrowing the perfect job applicant is digital too, with companies using recruiting software to separate ideal and less-than-ideal candidates for the job. This kind of software is good for applicants, since it makes the process so much easier, and also good for recruiters because it weeds out people who would not be a good fit for what they are looking for.
Taking the idea of hiring software into consideration, think about how you would need to tailor your application to make it through the automation process. What are recruiters looking for in the positions that you are applying to? Does your skill set fit what they want? Moreover, how can you ensure that your resume is not lost in the shuffle?
If you’ve ever taken a resume-writing course then you remember the age-old tactic of using buzzwords on a resume. Certain words, it was claimed, will you help you to get noticed by people looking for serious candidates.
Yes, this is still true, but in ways that you might not think. Remember that filters are set on the software to look out for phrases and words — and certain words are no longer as catchy as they used to be. For example “creative” and “innovative” are out, and using them on your resume might make a prospective employer feel like you’re not as creative as you might think since you didn’t provide an actual example of your creativity and innovation. You know this isn’t true, so prove it! Find other buzzwords that describe why you are the perfect fit for the job that the recruiter has not seen dozens of other times.
Not sure what kind of words to include when you list your work experience, duties and professional accomplishments? Remember that resumes are about telling, but they are also about showing. In a few words, be outstanding. Paint a picture to whoever ends up reading your resume about what kind of person you are and the kind of work that you have accomplished.
- Get rid of “team player.” The truth is, everyone’s resume claims that they are a team player, so you need to replace the overused phrase with something that proves that you are dedicated to your team. Try words like “trained” or “mentored.” These not only prove that you’ve spent dedicated time at your previous job, but that you are also able to foster healthy work relationships too.
- “Detail-oriented” is another one that tends to show up on an awful lot of resumes, so get rid of it. What examples can you show that you pay attention to the small things? Try words like “created” and “achieved” while using specific examples. Recruiters love to see what your talents are.
- At your previous job, chances are that you were “responsible for” or “managed” some project or another. Swap these out for “facilitated” or “guided.” These words already imply responsibility and they also show that you were in charge of a person or people.
Companies go through so many resumes and applications when looking for a new hire; in 2012, Starbucks received 7.6 million applications for 65,000 different positions. With so much competition to stand out against, using original terminology can help recruiters to better remember you.
As Napoleon Dynamite has stated, skills are important in life (just maybe not in the same context he was referring to!). When you’re trying to land The Job, make sure that your skills are listed front and center on your resume. This doesn’t mean things like “able to peel a banana with my feet” and “world record holder for longest continuous scream,” it refers to professional skills that add value to the industry. Don’t forget to give specific examples that prove that you’re not just pulling skills from a Google search!
- “Flexible” is a great one, but what about your professional life is flexible? “Able to adapt to all work environments” or “can multitask in a stressful setting” sounds more impressive and promising.
- What are some examples of your problem-solving skills? “Researched the best ways to go paperless in the office and implemented a recycling station” absolutely counts as a problem that you have solved at work.
- Being a self-starter is a fantastic thing since it tells employers that you don’t need to be reminded to get back to work a thousand times a day. Do you know what sounds even more professional? “Entrepreneurial and owner of my own successful Etsy business for the last three years.” Again, specify what makes you a self-starter instead of simply using the word.
Some people choose to leave “skills” off of their resume entirely. This is not advised! In a sea of applications that look alike, give employers something to remember when they look at yours. Make your application and resume the reason that they come back for a second glance.
Taking a leap of faith in a new field is downright terrifying. The idea of submitting an application to a company that you have never dared apply to in the past can seem overwhelming and worse, like a total longshot. You might find yourself thinking “Why should I even bother?”
The reason you should bother? Because if you don’t take a chance, you could be missing out on the opportunity of a lifetime and denying the world of another great visionary. In the 1920s a young man moved from being a newspaper editor to doing cartoons; his name was Walt Disney. Or what about the 50-year-old marketing specialist name Julia Child who wrote her first cookbook? Don’t sell yourself short! You might be scared of making a change only to fail, but what about the flip side? You could be making a change and find out that it’s the best decision of your life.
Whether you’re actively seeking a new place of employment or are only considering making a career change, it’s vital to find the right job for your qualifications, as well as one that you will love. It’s inevitable that fear of failure is a real thing, but it’s also a matter of believing in yourself and having the confidence that you not only can do this, but you will do this and be amazing at it.