It’s well-documented that it’s harder than ever to land a job. The reasons are myriad and include high unemployment rates, college grads with the wrong skillset, and massive amounts of noise in the hiring pipeline. The web has made it far easier to apply for jobs, and as a result, hiring managers see thousands of resumes for nearly every job they post.
The nature of work itself has also changed. As my blogging colleague Nichole Kelly has said, technology is rapidly shifting the way the workforce is assembled and how companies are structured. Millennials and digital natives are looking for non-traditional work environments, and companies who are able to adapt to the new expectations seem to attract top young talent.
Standing Out in the Job Market
Given these challenges, it’s more important than ever for a job applicant to find a way to stand out to employers. But this is not about wearing your resume on your t-shirt, it’s about demonstrating to others that you have the experience, skills and passions they need for their business.
Just recently one enterprising young man blew me away by sending over his resume. Take a look.
As you can see, Daniel Scalco has a somewhat untraditional background – he was a legal clerk before getting into marketing, and may not present as much marketing experience on paper as he probably has. But Dan has managed to convince me that he’s got good marketing chops because he demonstrated them, beautifully, in his resume.
As Dan himself has told me,
“It’s not enough anymore to just have a properly formatted resume and cover letter, even if you have the skills and experience. You have to be creative. You can’t just tell them you’re good at something, you have to show them.”
It’s clear to me from his resume that Dan has some very good visual design capabilities, probably better than average communications skills, understands his own skills and experiences, and knows what he wants to do with his next job. If I were looking to hire someone full-time right now, I’d be interviewing Dan in a heartbeat. (If you are hiring for a marketing position – please contact Dan via email or via Twitter. He’d love to hear from you.)
Don’t Say It, Show It
In today’s economy, it’s going to be thinkers who get ahead, and you can use a non-traditional approach to show what kind of thinker you are.
If you’re a strategic thinker, approach the job hunt from a problem-solving point-of-view, and help potential employers understand what you can do to solve their pain points. Emiland De Cubber created customized resumes using Slideshare, describing in story form who he is and why his skillset would be great for the companies he applied to.
If you’re an analytical thinker or data intelligence type, use data or analytics to show off your skills. It may not be as fancy as the one that Simone Fortunini created, which looked like a Google Analytics account, but you can figure out a way to quantify your experience and show it off in tables, charts or graphs.
And if you’re a creative thinker, well, get creative. Alec Brownstein set up Google ads to target top creative directors at agencies; the ads appeared when they Googled themselves. No surprise, Alec got a job.
Social Media, Too
I recently read a post from a writer who hopes to make it freelancing without a social media presence. I wholeheartedly agree that it can be done; not everyone needs to be on Twitter, and Facebook really won’t do much for you, job-wise. But social media could also really help make you stand out amongst other job applicants, particularly in communications and marketing.
Start with LinkedIn, of course. If your LinkedIn profile isn’t up-to-date, and ideally pretty savvy (see my LinkedIn profile ninja tips for advice), you won’t get very far with anyone who themselves uses social media personally or professionally.
Make sure your Twitter presence is business-appropriate, put your Twitter handle on your resume, and keep up a steady stream of content about your desired industry.
Next, think about the platforms your desired employers are most likely to use. If they’re B2B, having a gorgeous Pinterest presence probably won’t matter. But B2B companies often use Twitter, and so if you can demonstrate that you at least understand the platform, it may give you a leg up. Make sure your Twitter presence is business-appropriate, put your Twitter handle on your resume, and keep up a steady stream of content about your desired industry.
If you are B2C, and can show off your knowledge of Instagram, Pinterest or a niche site like GoodReads, that may help you stand out amongst your fellow applicants. Don’t hesitate to follow brands you’d like to work for, and include your profile info in your communications to prospective employers.
And this may go without saying, especially to SME readers: use social media to network! You never know who you know online; make sure that if you’re in a public job search that everyone in your social networks knows it (in a nice, not to spammy way, of course). If you’re quietly looking for your next opportunity, consider using direct messages on Twitter or private Facebook messages to let a few people know that you’d love their help in finding your next job. Karma is a powerful force in social media, and most people want to do a good turn for people they like.
I hope more people will be doing what Dan did, figuring out ways to demonstrate proficiencies, rather than hoping that bullet points on a resume or LinkedIn do the trick. Of course, not every profession will benefit from a non-traditional resume or an exemplary Twitter presence; an academic may still need a curriculum vitae, and a doctor must pass their board exams. But for most digital, communications or marketing professions, a non-traditional resume, paired with a bit of social media savvy, may be just the ticket to your next job.