I've spoken to several clients lately who've each been experiencing the same challenge. They believe they are really good at what they do, have great experience, but they just aren't getting any attention when it comes to their job applications and can't understand why. This is a really common problem, and they are usually a little shocked when I'm able to identify areas for improvement quite quickly. They are good at what they do, they do have great experience, but they usually aren't getting attention for one, or more, specific reasons.
No matter how much someone has read online about how to apply for jobs, how many times they've Googled "what companies look for," or the number of hours they've put into writing their resume, ultimately if this person isn't a recruiter, chances are they just can't possibly see their application the same way the person at the receiving end will. I'm lucky enough to have a special set of "Recruiter Goggles" I can put on when required, so, in this vein, here are some things to consider when you're creating your resume:
Be objective. As much as we frequently don't like to admit it, we don't always see ourselves the way others do. The same applies to your resume. You should always get an objective opinion on the way you are presenting yourself to prospective employers - whether that be your resume, LinkedIn profile or interview technique. Pick someone who isn't too close to you, or someone who is happy to share constructive feedback with you. On that note...
Get perspective. Be willing to take on feedback from other people about you, your skills and experience. Being accepting of feedback is an important attribute in itself, which will lend itself well to most experiences you have throughout your career. If someone asks you a question whilst reading through your resume, that means you probably haven't given them the answer easily enough and need to consider your audience more closely. Think about what that audience needs to hear, what they want to hear, and check you're telling them the right story.
Ask for help. Getting a new job is important, and it's not easy. If it was, we'd all be walking into jobs we loved instantly (and the reward factor of a shiny new job offer would certainly be pretty quickly diminished). There are people out there who can help you produce your job-seeking content and who know how to showcase you and your skills in the best way to maximise your chances of success. But...
Check out credentials. If you're going to work with someone on creating your resume, make sure that person has significant recruitment experience, ideally within the types of companies you'd like to work at. One of my clients recently explained a friend of theirs had invested in a resume from a large resume writing company, and had been assigned a recent university graduate (in Science - she was an administrative assistant) to work with her. She had then had a brief call with them and was subsequently sent a 5 page resume - with floral illustration and pink font. She was disappointed she'd invested in this, unhappy with what was produced, and certainly didn't achieve any interviews. Enough said.
Sian Havard is Founder at Milkshake Group, a Brisbane, Australia based consultancy which partners with startups wanting world-class talent strategies, and coaches people looking for awesome careers. Find her at www.milkshakegroup.com.