The Fit Student—Resume Fitness Basics

To be fit for the costs of living—and the shock of student debt—we need to woo job interviewes.  I bombed at interviews.  It took me a year to find a job.  Sadly, I would get interviews every week—sometimes three—but no-one would hire me.

So, I bought new clothes, hit the gym, splashed on makeup, dyed my gray hair, and read career books.  But nothing helped—until I changed my attitude.  With a new attitude, I secured a job right away.

But I fret the day I re-enter the job market—as I have never seen such a bad economy.  This past week, I went into a new mall.  To my shock, it had about 80% vacancy.  That means for every ten stores, eight were empty.  Many of the empty stores came with “for lease” signs.  It felt like death.  The mall didn’t survive a bad economy.  But can we?

Rodger Banister wrote a book called It’s Not About You: How to Think Like an Employer and Get the Job You Really Want.  The book claims to help us land a job—on the first interview, for most any interview—for even jobs for which we don’t qualify.

Here’s what Banister’s book says about resumes:

Customize every resume.

Banister says, “Please don’t ever send out bulk resumes or cover letters” (p.  14 of 214, 4%).  I do that.  You might, too.  But the job market in Alberta has at least a hundred applicants for most every job.  So, stand out.  “Apply for just one position a day.  One.  That way you can truly focus on the job description and tailor your resume to what the employer is looking for” (p.  16 of 214, 5%).

Banister also says to mimic “the language in the job description because [employers will] be looking for keywords that match” (p.  16 of 214, 5%).  But leave out anything not related to the job description.  I have the word “robotics” listed as a hobby, but I think it turns off many employers.  Same with sports like female wrestling.

Don’t BS.

“Don’t try to bullshit me” says Bannister, who did HR for marketing personnel.  “You say:  ‘I have extensive experience in digital marketing.’  Extensive? Unless you can prove this to me with some success metrics (KPIs), logistics or key language over a period of time, I read: ‘I created a Facebook ad for my friend once and I don’t know what the word ‘extensive’ means” (p.  17 of 214, 5%).

I call myself a digital marketing expert.  If makes you an expert, I’m surely one.  According to Bannister, however, “You say: ‘I’m a social media expert.’ … Unless you’re the love child of Seth Godin and Mark Zuckerberg, I read: ‘I have 312 followers on Instagram and think you’re gullible’” (p.  17 of 214, 6%).  Does just over a 100 followers count?

“There are much better words to use that are more akin to your experience, like instead of extensive experience, use something like thorough understanding.  Instead of expert, use the phrase intensive apprenticeship” (p.  18 of 214, 6%).  Personally, I think expert sounds less contrived than intensive apprenticeship.

Avoid clichés.

Bannister warns, “Be very careful about including clichés that everyone puts in but mean nothing …  Want a few examples?  ‘I’m a team player.’  No way!  We’ve been looking for someone just like you!  All these jerks we keep interviewing don’t care about our team at all.  Where have you been hiding all this time?”  (p.  21 of 214, 8%).  I’ve done worse on my resumes; I’ve claimed I prefer to work independently.

“There’s always a much better way to say this, such as: I impact company culture in positive ways by (insert the amazing thing you do)” (p.  21 of 214, 8%).  For myself, I buy welcome gifts for new employees—a teddy bear and chocolates—and get the team to sign a card.  I once read a story about an employee greeted first day with roses and a card.  Classy!  That’s the culture I hope to mimic.

Use metrics.

“Here are a few examples of areas you could measure—even if they relate to school projects: The size of team you managed ….  Revenue generation ….  How you ranked in performance ….  The amount of money you saved the company or department” (p.  24 of 214, 9%).  Saving money isn’t my strongpoint.  When I held an event, I splurged on the best buffet for my guests: triple stuffed salmon, prime rib, braised chicken, a waterfall of French desserts.  To start, I bought my guests hors d’oeuvres, including shrimp cocktail and veggie samosas.  I just didn’t offer them anything to drink, so many guests had to stake out the water fountain.  How does that look for saving money?

Hopefully you’ve got an edge on writing winning resumes.  So, customize your resume for those six-figure jobs.  Even if you’re not qualified, you might still get the call.

Banister, Rodger.  (n.d.).  It’s Not About You: How to Think Like an Employer and Get the Job You Really Want.  Victoria, BC.  E-book.