Applying for a Job-Focus on These 3 Things

– Instead of Obsessing Over Your Resume


We’ve all heard those tired old rules about how to create a resume. “One page, max,” “one-inch margins,” and “plenty of bullets” to make your value easily digestible for a potential employer. There are a litany of others about font-size and layouts, but all those tweaks and changes don’t add up to much of a difference in your job search. The problem is, recruiters look at stacks of these papers until their eyes glaze over.

The people who are advising you to follow those outdated resume rules mean well, but they’re missing something obvious – the job market is changing rapidly, and so is the recipe for standing out in it. Instead of spending an unnecessary amount of time trying to create the perfect resume, take the following steps to make yourself a more attractive candidate for any job.

1. Build a body of work

A body of work has major advantages over a traditional resume – more than anything, it provides tangible proof of your capabilities, whereas most resumes are primarily made up of unsubstantiated claims. These days, everyone is on the lookout for fake news, and hiring managers looking at your resume are no different.

No matter what field you’re interested in, a body of work can show where you’ve been and where you want to go. If you’re an aspiring photographer, a portfolio displaying your best photos has an obvious role to play in communicating your talent. If you want to become a developer, you can build a body of work using GitHub to store your programming projects. In virtually any space, keeping a regular blog shows potential employers your ability to stay committed to a project, whether your audience is a thousand readers or just your mom. You can’t build a body of work overnight, but you can always start the process right now and reap the benefits down the road.

2. Market yourself

We’re all (hopefully) aware that inappropriate material on social media accounts can sabotage a job search, but fewer people consider how the right content can give you a boost. According to Brie Reynolds from FlexJobs, some employers might rule out candidates who don’t have any social media accounts. That’s not too surprising considering 97 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn.

If you don’t have a profile, start by creating one. If you already have one, make sure it’s up to date and includes all your relevant work experience. You can also upload samples of your work in the form of blogs, videos, or a link to your personal website. Having a complete profile doesn’t mean your work is done – stay active on the platform by following companies you’re interested in and sharing their content. You can also post original content of your own, or link to networking events happening in your area. LinkedIn is a social platform where activity is important, and having a dead-end profile could make employers think you’re a dead-end applicant.

3. Don’t underestimate your network

With the right connections, you might not need any of the above – or even a resume. As the job applicant, it can be tough to put yourself in the shoes of the person doing the hiring, but the truth is that they’re even more nervous than you are. You have nothing to lose, but research from Jobvite indicates that a full third of new hires will quit within just 90 days. If hiring managers choose wrong, it can cost a fortune.

That’s why it’s such a powerful draw when someone who already respects and trusts you has a position to fill (or refers you to someone who does). According to a survey from Recruiter Nation, referrals are the top source for high-quality hires for 78 percent of recruiters. Go to a casual interview armed with a solid referral and you could find yourself hired before you sit down. For information on how to earn those referrals, check out our post on networking tips here, and don’t forget read our post on how to ace your job interview to ensure you make a good impression.

If you’re on the hunt for the perfect job, you should absolutely have a resume; however, instead of driving yourself crazy trying to make that one piece of paper perfect, create a functional document and move on to the other important tasks that will help land you a job. If employers put your application at the bottom of the stack because the margins on your resume don’t fit their preferences, you probably don’t want to be working for them anyway.

All those rules governing resumes are about blending in, and you can bet that the candidates who get hired will be the ones that stand out. Spend time developing a body of work, expanding your digital presence, and nurturing important relationships. At the end of the day, these are the things that will win you your dream job.