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The Two R's of a Successful Job Search

Resumes & Cover Letters

"Relevancy and Research."

That’s how I start every employment workshop I teach, no matter what the topic. Relevancy and research are all you need to make your elevator speech memorable, résumé impressive, interview answers gripping, and job search successful.

So many people ask for my help only after they've applied to numerous jobs with minimal results to show for their efforts. What do I say to them? Work smarter, not harder. Stop shotgunning your résumé hoping to hit a target. Instead, hone in on the jobs you really want and research what those companies need. Only then can you effectively make yourself relevant to those employers.

The Story of Bob

“Bob” came to me frustrated when he hadn't received a call back after his third interview with a Fortune 500 company. The interviewer had told Bob that he was impressed with his credentials, but that he was unsure he could handle stressful situations. To prove otherwise, Bob described situations he’d experienced in the Army and how he’d handled them with great results. His examples focused on being in the line of fire and working with limited resources out in the desert. Here’s the rub, he was applying for a management position in a call center. The type of stressful situations he would be dealing with there involved handling disgruntled customers and high call volume, none of which involved having bullets whizzing by his ears. While Bob was right to correct the interviewer with examples of his work, the ones he choose were completely irrelevant.

Making the Connection

Hiring managers are flooded with résumés from applicants claiming they are qualified for whatever positions they have open. The way to make yourself stand out is to connect the dots for them. Match your skills to their needs. Instead of just listing your credentials, show employers how you will help them fix whatever problem they are facing by giving examples of how you’ve fixed similar ones in the past. Let them see you’ve done your research and that you know what they are struggling with. After all, how will you convince them you can make valuable contributions if you don’t know what their goals are?

The Point Is...
Relevancy connects the dots. Research helps you figure out what those dots are to begin with.

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