How to Match Your Resume to the Job You Really Want: The Mirroring Technique
One of the major reasons resume writers—or any writers for that matter—are in business is because it’s simply so hard for people to be objective when writing about themselves or their businesses.
It’s for this very reason you may find it tricky to customize your own resume for the position you are going after. To make it easier, here are three tips that you can use to tweak your resume properly. I call it “the mirroring technique.”
1. Find your focus. This is an obvious one, but there is a trick to it. So often, professionals only think their resume is focused, when in reality, they are generalizing. I believe this is because many professionals believe, incorrectly, that they should not focus their job search goals too narrowly for fear of losing out on possible open positions. You can exacerbate this misguided belief by limiting your job search to job boards for executive jobs and positions. Job boards represent about one percent of actual jobs that are available and are awash with competition.
2. Shift your perspective. You must approach the information contained in your resume through the eyes of potential employers. In other words, you are going to want to write some things about your career history that will probably not be applicable to your ideal position. Shift your perspective by taking into consideration the position requirements that you know of and, most importantly, the results you can bring to the table: your quantifiable achievements.
For example, if you have a background of experience in operations and marketing and you are focusing on a marketing director position, you will most likely want to minimize your operations experience and draw forth only the experience relevant to your goals.
3. Use “the mirroring technique.” This is an extension of shifting your perspective. Take an example of your ideal job from any relevant job description using a job search engine like linkup.com. Next, highlight all the keywords and phrases used in the job description that communicate the ideal candidate and also match your skills and strengths. Now weave those keywords into the first page of your resume, essentially “mirroring” what they are asking for. So often we say to ourselves mentally, “Oh, this position fits me perfectly!” and yet we fail to take that rather simple next step, which is to make sure we are communicating this in our resume. By using the mirroring technique, it becomes quite easy!
Let me elaborate on the technique of using a sample position from linkup.com—and how powerful this little exercise truly is. Let’s say that you are interested in a VP of Sales position for a mid-size technology company. Using those search keywords, in about 10 or 15 minutes you will have found three or four position descriptions that sound like a great match for you. It doesn’t matter where these positions are located or even what companies they are with. You are looking for descriptions that excite and energize you and you will know you have found a great match by the emotions they evoke in you. Cut and paste each of these descriptions into a Word document and highlight all of the keywords and phrases that match you. Most likely you will begin to see a pattern of keywords in each position. Simply take and use these keywords and phrases in your resume. You can use them in your showcase keywords at the top of your resume, in your opening statement, and in your bulleted list of core competencies.
I like to use a lot of keywords at the very beginning of my resumes so that the reader can, at a glance, get a pretty good idea of what my client is all about in just a few seconds. By using very clear communication at the very top of your resume—which also can be called good branding—not only will your resume clearly and powerfully communicate your career objectives and expertise, but you can subtly tweak your keywords to mirror a particular industry or position. For example, let’s say you have both start-up and turnaround experience. “Technology Start-Ups” might be one of your keyword phrases at the top of your resume. If you are reaching out to a mid-size technology firm that you know needs a turnaround expert, you can replace “Technology Start-Ups” with “Turnaround Expert.”
Using the simple techniques above should increase your interviews and interest from potential employers. I always approach any tips I provide you from the perspective of the job seeker going direct to employers versus waiting for the perfect job found on a job board. Remember, almost all jobs—more than 85 percent —are not publicly advertised. So no matter what your industry is, or what stage you are at in your career, it makes total sense for you to get your information to the key decision-makers, companies, and industries that you are most interested in. You might be surprised at their show of interest in you and your initiative!
Author: Mary Elizabeth Bradford
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