By Sean Weinberg
According to our RezScore writers, one of the most common refrains we hear from clients sounds something like this:
‘I just feel like I have nothing competitive to offer that will help me land this job; my experience is so standard, my college degree never grew any ivy and I’m not so sure if my resume would get a second glance’.
Do you have a case of the ‘But I’m just plain old vanilla’ doldrums?
We spend a lot of time blogging about tangible changes you can make to your resume that get noticed but equally important are the changes to your mindset when approaching your job search. Mental stumbling blocks can be torturous and actually do prevent many great candidates from putting their best self forward in job searches.
This topic brings to mind a client from a couple years back, I’ll change her name to Lynn. Lynn was an experienced medical receptionist who applied to the same job three times in the span of a year but never heard anything back. When she came to RezScore I asked her to tell me about what a day was like at her current job. As she described her day, it became clear that Lynn was an essential thread in the fabric of her office operations; I was bowled over by how many responsibilities she had and all the different types of patient and insurance processing she had mastered. But after scanning her resume, I understood why she wasn’t garnering interest in her search.
‘‘Why don’t you have patient greeting or insurance processing on here?”
“because everyone knows that’s what we do!” she responded.
‘Do you do it well though? ‘Do you create a positive experience for sick patients and ensure that they will continually choose your practice over the competition’s through good customer service’?
Lynn started to see how her daily work activities positively enhanced the bottom line of the business. The primary changes RezScore made to her resume were quantifying and detailing her accomplishments and responsibilities; you can’t assume a potential employer will know you did a great job unless you tell them, and your resume is the first, and sometimes the only chance you get; but to write your best resume you need to first believe you are the best!
Yes, Lynn got the next job she applied for. The thank you voicemail she sent me is one that keeps me going through tough times when they occur.
I recently asked a law firm hiring manager about what stands out to him when reviewing candidates. He told me an anecdote of a recent hire who’s only experience outside of a 3L clerkship was working the counter and delivery route for a pizza parlor. He related that he hired him in large part because of the skills he would be bringing to the firm from his time at the parlor. Perplexed, I coaxed him for more details.
‘A guy answering a phone and taking orders all night has to deal with lots of transactions, be extremely detail oriented in taking orders, and make a customer happy each time through the way he talks on the phone. Same thing when you deliver a pizza, if you get there late the pizza’s cold or the customer won’t order again’
So that solved the puzzle. An associate at a law firm is under intense pressure to produce timely, accurate reports consistently and reliably. He can boast legal jargon and post a diploma on the wall but excelling at so called ‘vanilla skills’ such as oral and written communication or being a strong team player will certainly help him stand out.
So here’s a reality check:
Contrary to that voice inside your head, you are much better than you think. You are smarter, you are more proficient, heck you’re even better looking than you think! So stop listening to that self-defeatist scoundrel that hijacked your name and identity and start valuing yourself, because once you do, so will your next interviewer.
Sean Weinberg is the COO and co-founder of RezScore, a free web application that reads, analyzes, and grades resumes – instantly. Also the founder of Freedom Resumes, Sean has dedicated his career to helping job seekers write the best possible resumes.