The US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that US employment continued to decline in April and the national unemployment rate rose from 8.5 to 8.9 percent. Since the recession began in December 2007, 5.7 million jobs have been lost. In April, job losses were large and widespread across nearly all major private-sector industries. Overall, private-sector employment fell by 611,000. It appears that we still have a highly competitive and challenging job market to navigate.
The civilian workforce is made up of approximately 155 million workers of which 141 million are working and 14 million are out of work (based on reported unemployment claims). There are millions of unemployed workers not included in these statistics because they are not collecting unemployment. This could add as many as 5 million additional people who are out of work; making a total number of up to 19 million unemployed workers in the US. Finally, of the 141 million Americans who currently have jobs, it is estimated that 15% of them are actively looking for better ones; adding another 21 million or so people blasting out résumés and networking like crazy for new jobs. In total, there are approximately 40 million people looking for work in the US!
The New Resume
With the staggering number of people looking for work, employers around the country are getting bombarded with hundreds, if not thousands of résumés a week. Employers and hiring professionals including recruiters, employment agencies and human resource personnel are being pummeled from every direction with résumés, cover letters, phone calls, emails and follow-up calls! In preparation for my newest book, 101 Ways to Land a Job in Tough Times, scheduled for release in the fall by McGraw-Hill, I interviewed more than 50 hiring personnel from around the country to learn first-hand, how they are hiring in today’s troubled economy. I wanted to know how much time they spend reading résumés and whether they actually use keyword scanning software as a screening strategy. I sought to find out how they read cover letters, how they react to follow-up letters, how they feel about follow up phone calls, sending résumés to multiple people within the same organization, interviewing techniques, negotiating salary and so on. I got a clear message. The job search must be conducted completely different today than it was even a year ago!
And the changing dynamics of the NEW job search begins with a NEW approach to resumes.
Today, you must be aware of three major realities of how résumés are perceived and read by most hiring personnel:
- If job seekers don’t clearly DIFFERENTIATE themselves from other qualified candidates in 10-15 seconds, they probably never will.
- The differential factor must be economic or bottom line driven messages that position job seekers to STAND OUT from their competition.
- There must be unquestionable evidence that job candidates have produced significant results in the past that would indicate they can deliver similar results in the immediate future. (A résumé without achievements is like a report card without grades).
The Differential Factor
When you strategically develop your résumé, you must challenge yourself to define the differential factors. The differential factor represents STAND OUT skills, qualifications, talents and other ‘employment assets’ that set you apart from other qualified candidates. We are NOT talking about 10-15 general skills you have, your educational background or personality traits here. We are talking about two, three or four valuable assets you bring to the job that makes you STAND OUT from your competition! In many cases, the differential factor is what tips the hiring scale in your favor! For instance, if you have an industry-wide reputation, your reputation might be a differential factor that leads to an interview and eventual hire. If you are a return-to-work candidate and are seeking a receptionist’s position but you have outstanding computer skills; that may constitute the differential factor. Recently, I coached a Senior Accountant who worked for a legendary golf professional for 20 years. Having worked for a famous golf professional was the differential factor because many hiring managers found it unique and intriguing to interview and possibly hire someone who worked for a celebrity. When you identify your differential factors, you’ll provide yourself and your job search campaign with a distinct advantage in landing a job quicker in the toughest of job markets.
Seeking position as…
Accounting Professional 7 Years of Significantly Improving Cash Flow
* Aggressively and professional collect A/R while maintaining outstanding customer relations
* Develop systems of control to dramatically reduce credit problems without jeopardizing sales
* Collaboratively work with sales and department heads to meet credit and sales goals
Become a Madison Avenue Marketing Guru
The differential factor is akin in marketing to the USP (Unique Selling Proposition) or the Emotional Hot Buttons that Madison Avenue marketing professionals use to entice their audience to buy. In most mediums sex, fear and humor sells. On resumes and at interviews, it’s the differential factors that sell. Identify them and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll attract you next job.