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It's Not Your Résumé That Gets You Hired

Hannah P. Morgan
When job hunting, many potential employer`s first glimpse into who you are comes from your resume. Here are a few tips on how to change your resume right now to improve your chances of landing that dream job.

Creating a résumé is not the best way to start a job search. In fact, your résumé is a very small part of your job search. Your ability to demonstrate your skills, willingness to do the job and personality will help you garner the attention of hiring managers, recruiters and human resources staff.

The following facts demonstrate how tough it is to get noticed with just a résumé. Your odds of receiving a call from an employer based on a résumé you posted on a job board are as good as winning the lottery without buying a ticket.

Résumés By The Numbers:

--Recruiters spend an average of only 6 seconds reviewing your resume, according to the job matching service TheLadders.

--50 percent of candidates are viewed as "not-qualified, according to recruiters.

--Referred candidates are twice as likely to land an interview than other applicants.

These steps should help you stand out and get yourself in front of companies who could potentially hire you.

Examine your qualifications. Take an inventory of projects you've enjoyed working on and extract the skills you used. Self-assessment can be a painful but necessary first step in the job search process. You have a lot of options for where you can go next. You want to make sure you are using the right skills at the right company for you.

Create a list of target employers. Based on your preferred geographic location, research growing companies in that region. You can usually find a list of top employers by city just by searching online. Research the companies, and see if they interest you and have roles you are qualified for. Do not eliminate companies because they don't have jobs posted. Most companies have un-posted jobs, and you can send an email to human resources to find out positions that may not be publicly listed.

Meet people who work in target companies. You can attend events, network on LinkedIn and even ask your friends and family if they know anyone who works for one of your target companies.

Ask for information, not a job. As tempting as it is to express your desire to work for the company, hold back. The true reason you want to meet or talk with someone is to learn more about the organization.

Compile a list of skills. Based on your conversations and research, you probably have a good idea what your target employers value. These are the skills and talents you want to highlight on your résumé and weave into your LinkedIn profile.

Take time to customize your résumé for each job posting. When you do find a job posting at one of your target companies, or elsewhere, thoroughly review each qualification and job requirement and truthfully include your achievements as it relates to each of them on your résumé.

Tap an insider. Either right before or after you apply, find someone you know or can talk to inside the company you're applying to. Let the employee know you are interested in the job and ask if he or she can forward your résumé along. Many companies have employee referral programs so you may help the employee earn a referral bonus.

Where to improve your skills, interests and personality

There are lots of ways to stand out. Volunteering with a professional organization provides exposure and new networking contacts. Joining group discussions on LinkedIn is another way to get involved in a community of like-minded thinkers. And having active, professional accounts on Google+ and Twitter will also increase your findability.

Is the résumé still important?

Yes, the résumé is still important. Recruiters with large numbers of open requisitions rely on applicant tracking systems (ATS) to help sift and sort through résumés. The pressure to fill openings dictates how they manage time. The problem is, most job seekers don't know how recruiters use ATS. Therefore, they fail to write a résumé that will feature their best assets and use key words that will get them found.

If you are embarking on a new job search, take time to learn about the contemporary résumé and what you must do to highlight your skills and capabilities. The laundry list of job duties just won't cut it in the competitive climate.

Hannah Morgan is a speaker and author providing no-nonsense career advice; she guides job seekers and helps them navigate today's treacherous job search terrain. Hannah shares information about the latest trends, such as reputation management, social networking strategies, and other effective search techniques on her blog, Career Sherpa.

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