Why less is more in the job search
Yes, less is more in the job search. I know that I have been blogging about job search for close to 10 years, so in my opinion, there is obviously a lot going on. No doubt, there are a lot of steps.
Today, I want to add some perspective. Less is more. Think quality vs. quantity.
In the last 4 months, the company I am working with hired 1 employee a week. That isn’t many employees for most companies, but it is a lot for our little choo-chooo train. Most of the positions were entry-level.
The trend that I kept seeing was that candidates were doing too much at every step of the process and it was costing them the interview. Candidates can come across as desperate when they put in too much effort. A highly qualified candidate can appear desperate and this doesn’t create urgency or negotiation leverage. So let me break it down for you.
The goal of the cover letter is to get the reader interested in the resume. That is it. OK, yes, it gives you a chance to show off your writing skills, but the real goal of the cover letter is to get the reader to flip the page with excitement.
Full page, or page and a half cover letters are too much. The hiring manager is looking for what is posted in the job description and nothing more. The meat of the job description is in the first few bullets of required skills. So, if you can get the point across that you are a perfect fit for the first few bullets, you did it. Click here to see an effective cover letter format.
The job of the resume is to generate so much interest that the hiring manager picks up the phone to schedule the first meeting. Remember, they are really only looking for the skill sets that are listed in the job description. If our resume doesn’t DIRECTLY connect the dots to the job description requirements, the resume is useless. You may be qualified for the job, but if the hiring manager doesn’t understand your qualifications via the resume, you are invisible.
If you have 10+ years of experience, focus showcasing your last few years of experience. We are not going to be hired for our first few years of experience. The job we held 10 years ago was too junior to relate to the current position. For our earlier experience, list out a few accomplishments. This shows we have the required 10 years of experience. Our main focus should be on communicating our last few years of accomplishments. These are directly related to the position of interest.
Requisite dating example
If I am 32 years old and a similar age hottie asks me about myself, I don’t share my personal story starting with what I did when I was 22. If the 32-year-old hottie wants a 22-year-old behavior, they will be talking with a twenty-something. They won’t be hanging out with us! If I give them my background starting from my early 20’s that is too much. We start with our most recent experiences and eventually share baby stories.
The experience we are going to be hired for
As it relates to the resume, less is more. Focus on providing information that is relevant and not our entire work history career. We aren’t being hired for what we accomplished back in the day. List fewer accomplishments from early in our career and list more accomplishments from our recent work history. We aren’t going to be hired for something we accomplished 20 years ago. We are going to be hired for what we did recently.
I saw a lot of fancy resumes filled with color, shapes, and designs. Check this link on a recent post explaining why creative resumes hurt your job search.
Hiring managers and recruiters see 100’s and 1000’s of resumes. If they had their way, all resumes would have the same format. This would make it much easier to read. Yes, there are some beautiful documents out there, but they are coming from professional design candidates specializing in UX and Design. If we don’t have this background, my suggestion is to skip this and go with the traditional.
The goal of the resume is to communicate our qualifications directly to the job description. Have you ever seen a graphically creative job posting?
If we are qualified for the job, no one is going to say “I would have called this person, but the resume didn’t have enough color”. In most cases, creative resumes just aren’t creative enough and are not done well enough to stick out in a positive way.
Yes, less is more. One of the first questions that will be asked is “Tell me about yourself”. (Yeah, not really a question but you know what I mean) Again, we are not being hired for what we did 10 years ago, so don’t start your bio from when you graduated 10 years ago. Start with your most recent experience.
When I ask a question, I don’t want to hear 3 minutes of background and THEN hear the answer to the question I asked 3 minutes ago. If you have 10 years of experience, you lost me at “I graduated with a degree in. . .” If you just graduated, THEN you start with “I have a degree in”.
Give the current and relevant job history and work backward in time. Provide less and less detail the further you go back. The interviewer can dig deeper in areas they are interested in.
Interviews with Execs
This is especially true when being interviewed by executives. Execs think at a much higher level and don’t get into the details and weeds. They have folks working for them that are in the weeds. Here is a link to check out a recent post on how to answer questions from executives.
So, as you prepare for your interview, I absolutely encourage you to practice, practice and practice your answers to the interview questions. When it comes to preparing your cover letter and resume, less is more.
See you at the after party,
nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.
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