Read Between the Lines

By Brian Hochhalter

As a job seeker, have you ever read a job description and thought you had the exact experience or expertise it required? While that can be encouraging, it’s important to understand that the Human Resources person who is reviewing incoming candidates from a job posting will not “read between the lines” of your resume. If you want your resume to catch their attention, it’s up to you to make your experience or expertise visible on your resume.

The truth is, the HR person scans–not reads–every resume in their inbox. Resumes that explicitly mention the required skills, experience, tools, or training are the first to be read thoroughly. The HR person may eventually get to other resumes, but not until they’ve looked at those first.

But even if you don’t have the exact experience the employer is looking for, don’t assume that your resume won’t be considered. Often, the employer will relax certain requirements after searching for several weeks without finding an exact match. If you took the time when applying to emphasize parallel experience, training, or skills on your resume, you will be in a better position to be considered at this juncture.

What does it mean to emphasize parallel experience? As a candidate, you need to read between the lines of a job description. Take a little time to analyze just what it is the employer wants to see in a candidate, and review your resume from that perspective.

If you can’t see the connection, odds are that the HR person reviewing your resume won’t either. If you can see how your experience fits, however, start weaving your revisions into the narrative. It takes effort and some creativity to revise your resume with each submittal, but it can pay off in the long run. Just throwing a buzz word into a skills list, while better than nothing, is not the best approach. Here is where working with a recruiter can provide a decided advantage.

A good recruiter will work with you on your resume presentation. They will also communicate to the prospective employer those qualities that make you a good candidate but which may not be easily incorporated into the resume narrative. Recruiters are also privy to particular “hot buttons” of the employer’s that may not be apparent to you just by looking at the job posting.

Your resume is usually your primary marketing tool, at least until you can get into a dialogue with the prospective employer. Subtle changes tailored to address the job requirements and target the company can make all the difference in the world!

Are you afraid of getting stuck in a boring career? Read this!

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