Thursday, February 14, 2008

Unfair Advantage

If you discovered an Unfair Advantage to stand out over 97% of your competition, would you use it? Who wouldn't, Right?

In today's job search, the name of the game today is to get noticed…and 97% of the resumes out there don't do a very good job at getting noticed. Guess what happens if you are one of the 97%? That's right, no interview, no callback, no chance at the job you applied for.

Online resume submission, and HR Databases have made it so easy, yet at the same time, more difficult to get interviews. Easy as a click of a mouse, yet why is it all of a sudden so difficult to stand out?

It's more difficult because of pre-screening – HR departments love it, and most people seeking job change HATE IT. It's more difficult, because email and online job boards have made it TOO EASY to submit your resume. As it became so easy to submit a resume, HR departments and recruiters got overwhelmed with responses, and HR Departments and hiring managers had to implement pre-screening to micro-target candidates, and make the process efficient.

How many of you applied for a job you were "perfect for" … but yet never even got a return phone call? How did that feel? Did you also hate the pre-screening process?

You're not alone, 97% of people seeking to change careers hate pre-screening. But the top 3% LOVE IT.

The top 3% of resumes are the one who actually get reviewed by humans, and are the ones who get interviews. You can get to this top 3% one of two ways.

  1. Use the Unfair Advantage of Resume Search Optimization and Web 2.0 tools
  2. Send lots of resumes and pray – the method 97% of resumes use

Resume Search Optimization "games" your resume, by specifically writing it to score well on keyword searches. Yes, your resume is scored, by an algorithm, based on how many keywords match, or how many words in your resume match the job description


The proliferation of online recruiting completely changed the rules of the game, turning them literally upside down.

What works in today's job market is completely opposite of what most of us were taught. The Unfair Resume Advantage means extreme customization of each and every resume, with the goal of scoring highly on word matches….to the extreme of using the exact same words and terms directly lifted from the job description.

Don't bother with a cover letter, and if you feel that you must, make the cover letter generic. Isn't this the exact opposite of how you were taught to job search? Remember, hiring managers can micro-target resumes based on word matches, and COVER LETTERS ARE NOT INCLUDED IN THE DATABASE (see my Ugly Job Hunting Truths podcast). A good career coach, experienced in Resume Search Optimization and Web 2.0 tools can help you make pre-screening work for you, or if you're good at SEO, you can DIY.

So sending a static resume with general skills and a customized cover letter dooms your resume to database hell. Weren't most of us were taught (back in the good old days of paper resumes), to develop a static resume with general skills, demonstrating leadership for managers – and send a customized cover letter? Guess what…schools still teach these same methods – shame on them! Even my own esteemed Alma Maters – University of Illinois and Northwestern University still teach the same thing today we were taught 30 years ago. Prepare a static resume on nice paper, 1 page, lots of white space…oh and use a customized cover letter. If you've got good grades, you'll probably land some job, but how does this teach students to job hunt later in life?

So what will you do? Will you change your tactics to get an Unfair Advantage, or will you use the same strategies of our forefathers, and be doomed to database oblivion?

Executives exploring Career Change: For a free 30 minute resume consultation, or career advice for executives, email your resume confidentially to reCareered (, and we'll schedule a time to talk.

Staff, Managers, Entrepreneurs, and career changers outside the US: Send your resume to to enroll in a free group teleseminar "Accelerate Your Job Search - tools you can use".

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