Does your resume tell your audience WIFM (What's In it For ME - the candidate), or does your resume describe WIFT (What's In it For Them - the hiring company)? Unfortunately, most of the resumes I see now, and have seen through out my career are the WIFM variety, and fail to capture the hiring manager's attention ... because quite frankly, the hiring manager isn't so concerned about what you want. The hiring manager is primarily concerned about WIFT - what their company wants.
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This occurs because we've been taught, from early in our careers to write a resume as an autobiography, rather than as a marketing piece (see: http://recareered.blogspot.com/2008/05/do-you-recognize-these-early-warning.html).
There are so many examples of WIFM that tank job opportunities. Let's first see if you recognize any ...
- An Objective Statement on your resume - By it's very nature WIFM, because it's focuses on what you want, rather than what you provide.
- Describing your job responsibilities - Your responsibilities typically describe what you're most proud of and what was important to you about your job. Words like "responsible for", "managed", and "participated in" communicate WIFM. However, accomplishments that are relevant to the hiring manager's problems demonstrate WIFT.
- Answering the "tell me about yourself" question by regurgitating your resume is WIFM. Telling a hiring manager the specific things you have done that will solve problems for them is WIFT.
- Answering an interview question by stating what you are looking for - A statement like "I'm seeking a management role where my skills can provide value" is both vague as well as WIFM. By framing the answer so that it answers that company's problems (of course, you have to do some pre-work for this approach), you're answering WIFT.
- Describing yourself as a generalist - In today's do less with more environment, you'll likely be hired primarily to solve specific problems rather than be a jack of all trades. Even though your day to day responsibilities may be generalist in nature, that's not the reason you'll be the selected candidate, because generalist skills are WIFM. Your future employer will be more interested in choosing a top candidate who demonstrates subject matter expertise in a few areas (WIFT), and with the assumption that general skills come with experience.
Hiring managers care about what's in it for you as an afterthought - Only if they are interested in having you work there, to gain some comfort that you'll stay for a while. To most managers, hiring staff is just as painful as the candidacy process, and a hiring manager doesn't want to go through this process again for the same position in six months.
Hiring managers typically look for 3 things that determine WIFT for the specific company, department, and manager (see: http://recareered.blogspot.com/2009/12/3-things-your-next-employer-will-search.html).
How can you write a resume, and answer interview questions as WIFT? Here's 7 ways:
- Personal Branding Statement - Create a crystal clear, very concise personal branding statement that describes the position you want, and a single subject matter expertise (out of the many you have) that solves biggest problem that hiring manager has (see: http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/01/how-personal-branding-statement-can.html).
- Employer Value Statements - Select Employer Value Statements that demonstrate the problems you've solved and their effect on the company's bottom line. Bit don't list all the problems you've solved - that would be WIFM. Instead, choose examples that are similar to current problems the company, department, and manager currently have - That's WIFT. Even administrative assistants can demonstrate these accomplishments, typically with smaller dollars. For examples, see http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/03/employer-value-statements-make-your.html.
- Resume customization - Customize your resume with Employer Value Statements and keywords that are relevant to the company to make your resume WIFT. Use the company's own language to describe your accomplishments, rather than the language of your prior company. Loose the acronyms and jargon that only people in your prior company would understand. See http://recareered.blogspot.com/2009/09/differentiate-your-resume-with-winning.html for examples. Sending a standard resume is by it's very nature WIFM, because by making it standard, you can only include what's important to you - because each company looks for different things, and uses different language, even for the same position.
- Address employer and hiring manager problems - Before you can address them, you have to understand what they are to begin with. Start your research before you even send a resume, to make it WIFT. Use Guerrilla Tactics (http://recareered.blogspot.com/2009/11/guerrilla-job-search-tactics.html) and company research found here (http://recareered.blogspot.com/2008/05/4-killer-ways-to-use-research.html) to learn what problems are the most important to your target company, department, and hiring manager.
- Include "nice to have's" -Hiring managers typically narrow interviewed candidates to a final three to choose between. While most of the interviewed candidates may be all qualified to do the job (which earned them the interview), a few usually stand out from the pack because of something extra. Sometimes it's a great personality fit for the company, and sometimes it's a "nice to have" - a skill, quality or experience that was never listed on the job description, that the hiring manager didn't even think of when listing job criteria, but recognized its importance when discovered on a resume or in an interview. These "nice to have's" can often make the difference between getting the offer and just being one of the pack. Find out more about how to build "nice to have's" into your resume at http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/02/resume-ideas-add-skills-inventory-to.html.
- Demonstrate Subject Matter Expertise - Listing your general skills or what you did on a day to day basis is WIFM. It's not likely to be as important to your future employer, since no two jobs have the same needs and no two companies have the same day to day responsibilities. Your future employer is interested in what problems you can solve for that department and company - WIFT. The best way to demonstrate this is to understand your target's current problems, giving specific examples of your expertise in solving these (or very similar) problems, and branding yourself as a subject matter expert (see: http://recareered.blogspot.com/2008/02/subject-matter-experts-rule.html) If general skills happen to be more important, then the hiring manager should select only candidates with a minimum experience level and so they can assume general skills - If you concentrate on selling your general skills, you're concentrating on the assumed skills, rather than what the hiring manager will likely base a decision upon.
- Why you want the job - If you haven't conveyed to the hiring manager why you want that specific job at that specific company in a way that is WIFT, you're dead in the water. A hiring manager isn't interested in the fact that you want to move ahead in your career, that you want specific experiences, or that you'll take just about any job to keep from losing your hose. A hiring manager is interested in WIFT - That you want the job because you have demonstrated expertise to solve their specific problems (see: http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/03/why-do-you-want-to-work-here-job-search.html).
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