Is getting the job you want right now a matter of experience? Or is there more to it? Simply put, if getting your next job were simply a matter of experience, most of our more-experienced workers would be back at work right now. Yet I meet people daily with 20, 30, or more years of experience in their field of choice who are still struggling.
An underemployed friend of mine has dealt with the frustration of being passed by on job after job, without so much as an invitation for an interview. In exasperation, he asked, “I have done this all my life—does experience count for nothing anymore?”
I have the advantage of a broader perspective than most of the jobseekers I help. Quite often I hear older jobseeker protest that “nobody hires older workers” or that their level of experience scares away employers fearing that high experience would be too expensive. Just as often, however, I hear college graduates complain that employers are asking for years of experience in addition to their degree, making a vicious circle that is difficult for new graduates to break into.
It all comes back to what will add value to the employer. And no two employers are alike. But one thing that nearly all employers will agree to—how will you affect their bottom line? Employers may here divide on opinion as to how that would look, so it helps to know how about the company you’re applying for and what their needs might be. While a person’s resume shows their 30 years experience assembling widgets, or even 10+ years (for those who fear revealing their approximate age in their resume), that experience falls flat if the widgets have evolved since he last assembled them. On the other hand, a person with only 3 years experience creating the same kind of widget as the hiring employer and who has demonstrated the ability to solve technical problems of those widgets (consequently having saving saved money in quality costs) would be seen as vastly more valuable.
So how do you show your value? That depends largely on the employer.
Research the employer every way you can. Check out their corporate website. If they have a company site on LinkedIn and/or Facebook, check those out also. Talk to employees if you know any; if not, make some connections on LinkedIn. Request informational interviews. Ask questions. Learn their mission and values. Know them inside out. You’ll get an idea of where their values truly lay.
When applying for a job, first make sure your application, especially your resume, is highly targeted to their needs—stated and otherwise. Their first step in selecting applicants is to screen out those that don’t state they meet all the basic qualifications. Spell out how you meet each of these qualifications carefully and up front, so there’s no question. The result is you will pass the initial screening. If that is all you do, your resume will likely look like all the others that passed that initial screening as well.
So how do you stand out? That’s where the knowledge of the employer comes in.
You have done your homework. You know their mission statement, their vision statement (stated or implied), and will probably have a good idea of the challenges they face in their day to day work. Have you faced similar challenges before? How did you overcome them? Writing an accomplishment-focused resume, specifically addressing the accomplishments that closely parallel those that a future employer will highly value, will do more to set you apart from the crowd.
It’s a matter of quality, not quantity—and how you can demonstrate your profitability and fit.
- 10 Things to Leave Off Your Resume (money.usnews.com)
- Improve Your Employability – The Essential Skills (theemployable.com)