Whether you are actively looking for a new career opportunity or just keeping your ears open, it all starts with the resume. Even if you’ve been in the professional sphere for decades there is always a lot of bluster and mystery when it comes to what a resume should contain.
We sat down with SANINC President, Mark Stocker, to get at the heart of the issue. Where better to learn about the power of a resume than from a vetted recruiting expert?
Fielding Candidates: The Resume
From first glance, what are you looking for when a resume comes across your desk?
Mark Stocker (MS): On the surface, is there a logical career history or reasons for transition? Does their career trajectory make sense? If so, that shows they have intention. They’re strategic about what they’re doing. Is their career path linear or splatter paint?
What about resumes that don’t have a logical career history? Is that grounds for disqualification?
MS: No, that doesn’t necessarily disqualify someone, but I need to find a hook to understand that movement. If I’m going to recommend them, I need to make sense of their career history. That first scan is checking that career path.
Let’s talk about the ‘hook’. What are you looking for there?
MS: The resume should set the hook and make someone want more. That’s your first date. Fun, exciting, alluring. Far too often, people spend too much time explaining qualifications and not enough time explaining achievements. When you’re looking at top-caliber talent, this is what distinguishes them. It’s not about the experience, it’s about the achievement. This is what should shine through on the resume and in the interview. Sometimes less is more, just like that first date. What’s the value proposition an individual brings based on their achievements? I want to talk to people who have an intention of achieving things, they track their own metrics and success.
Confidence Truly is Key
What’s the #1 thing you look for in a candidate, in and outside of the resume?
MS: Someone that has not only achieved things in their career but who takes pride in what they’ve done. Someone who gives life to their record and takes it from an often passive voice into an active voice. In short, confidence. Confident people have concise answers to what they’re being asked while also having the awareness and the curiosity to turn around and ask how they’re response applies to the position/company they are interviewing for.
What’s something you think candidates overlook in the hiring process?
MS: Candidates have more power than they think. Both parties are looking for the perfect fit. The company may be able to offer the candidate a job, but so many candidates forget that they offer a service. There’s power in that. An interview goes both ways. And again, someone confident in their achievements and their abilities carries that into their interactions throughout the process.
Are there any tips or tools that you wish every candidate would utilize?
MS: I think a good rule of thumb is to Google your first and last name and your city/state. Any good recruiter and most companies are going to do that. See what they see and know how to respond to it. Social media has so many implications. It doesn’t matter if it was a social post or a professional post, it can still affect how you are presented.
What about professional social avenues, like LinkedIn?
MS: LinkedIn is a billboard for your history. If you don’t have any information there, that says something in itself. You should have a profile picture and a personal feel for who you are. LinkedIn is a tool used to find people based on keywords. This is the time to showcase your qualifications (versus showcasing your achievements in your resume!). Everything past that are the differentiators – recommendations, referrals, and testimonials are what set you apart once someone finds your profile.
The Small Things aren’t that Small
Let’s talk about interview etiquette. What are some small but important things to highlight for an interviewee?
MS: A small thing is to make sure you understand what the attire is. There are a lot of sources that recommend a suit and tie or more formal businessware. That just isn’t the case anymore for most interviews, particularly those outside of executive positions.
- You should be polished and come with a portfolio or billfold with a notepad, a single pen, and a few copies of your resume.
- Be prepared to ask questions.
- The interview should be engaging. Express your excitement for the opportunity, sell yourself, and set that hook, while internally assessing the team you’re meeting with and making sure it’s a match for you too.
- Don’t forget the follow-up thank you! Send it on the same day as your interview. An email is perfectly acceptable.
- Don’t underestimate the power of a letter of recommendation, especially from someone in an executive position in your previous jobs.
Finally, what’s the #1 issue people have getting in the door with their resumes?
MS: Work history. While this is a prime opportunity for having a letter of recommendation from an executive, sometimes it can be even more potent to take the presentation into your own hands. If the opportunity is a great fit for you and a great fit for them, don’t submit your resume through the standard channels. Contact the executive at the company and present yourself. Make the introduction and explain the value proposition that compelled you to reach out directly.
True Career Consultant Experts
There are hundreds of sources about how to craft the perfect resume, tips for stellar interviews, and lists for how to stand out during the hiring process. However, there is nothing stronger than going right to the source, especially for something as important as your career. At SANINC and in our divisions, MetalJobs Network and PlasticJobs Network, we are career consultants. It’s what we do. Let us be there for you.
We’ve been in the recruiting industry for over 30 years. As an executive recruitment firm in two booming, niche industries, Mark is uniquely qualified to offer insights into the hiring process. As members of Sanford Rose & Associates, our roots run far and deep. Ready to learn more? Download our Getting Hired Guide today. Still hungry for more? SRA has valuable candidate resources available too!
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