Putting together a successful resume means more than simply highlighting past accomplishments, educational milestones, and things of that nature. Human resource personnel have their hands full with the dozens of resumes that make it to their desks each day, and the successful candidate will stand out due to his or her creativity in composing a resume that goes beyond these benchmarks. Note that this does not mean you should make use of distracting gimmicks like printing your resume on construction paper, writing inappropriate cover letters, or attaching clip art. What it does mean is that you must work hard to plead your case as to why you are the right candidate for the job, showcasing your ability to manage a variety of people and tasks, demonstrating that you are top talent in your field.
Getting that first interview is the key to being considered for the position you desire, and an outstanding resume is what is required in order to compete effectively for a chance at an interview. Providing valid evidence of your ability to hold a position in your chosen field and add value to an employer through statistical analysis of increased revenues that are directly or indirectly attributed to your actions and leadership means you will need more than a cover letter filled with cliched references to “multitasking ability” and “being a team player.”
Another prerequisite that many employers have is that your personality and the way you present yourself in-person must closely match what is represented in your resume. If you portray yourself on paper as a confident and highly competent managerial candidate, this should be evident from your body language, tone, dress, the answers you give to the questions asked by the interviewer, and the manner in which you answer those questions. Conveying a sense of warmth and professionalism can do as much or more for improving your chances as the resume itself, though both are important.
Many people gauge a successful career in terms of ability to stay with one company for a long period of time. It is not uncommon for employers to choose to hire an applicant with fifteen or more years of experience at one company over a candidate with the same amount of experience from working for several different firms. Staying power is highly valued in a new employee, as he or she will be regarded as a potential asset for growth that can adapt to the company’s ever-changing needs well into the foreseeable future and beyond.
Creativity is the Key to Success even at Work
Even if you don’t think of yourself as a creative person, you shouldn’t give up. Research has shown that creative thinking is a learned behavior. Thinking creatively doesn’t mean you’re going to invent the next multi-million-dollar Internet start-up. What it does mean is developing a new and innovative approach to your job search.
Make a Plan
Look at your situation honestly and evaluate your skills. If you’ve found yourself out of work after years in a long-term job, you’re probably frightened about the future. Evaluate your options and seek new solutions. Chances are you’ve spent years dreaming about what you would do if you had the opportunity. If you’ve always wanted to work for a non-profit, for example, now is the time to pursue that goal. Research the companies you’d like to work for and what they’re looking for in potential employees. Even if you don’t land your dream job, your new skills will serve you well in your job search and your future career.
One way to think creatively is using technology to present yourself in an innovative way. Put together a creative or interactive resume that stands out from the standard design. Build a website to showcase your talents and include a blog to draw traffic and interest. While you’re actively seeking work, volunteer in your spare time. Volunteering can often turn into a career. Even if it doesn’t, your new experience and the fact that you’re keeping busy will add polish to your resume. Think of yourself as a commodity that you are trying to sell. Identify your strengths and accentuate them.
Use Your Network
Business acquaintances, family members and friends are an excellent way to get an edge on other applicants. Keep in touch with your former coworkers. Note that you’re seeking work on Facebook and use social media to interact with companies that you’d like to work for. Make an effort to meet new people and look for unexpected opportunities. Especially if you are considering switching careers, seek out a mentor to guide you in your chosen field. A recommendation from a trusted person can open doors that might otherwise be closed to you.
Many people have skills that they never used in their former careers, or talents that they’ve acquired that aren’t part of the standard job description. Maybe you have a hobby or specialized knowledge that can translate into a new career. Making a plan, emphasizing your unique talents and thinking in a new and creative way can be the first step on the path to future success.
Soft Skills, the Key for Success
In the workplace, hard skills are often prized in new employees and among those looking for positions of employment. These kinds of skills involve having specific knowledge of technical matters, having high levels of training, and having concrete and definable abilities in certain professional areas.
However, there is growing agreement that while hard skills have their place in the workplace, soft skills may be the true keys to success. Soft skills, which are also commonly described as interpersonal skills, are just as important in helping one succeed and prosper in work environments, yet not everyone is aware of what soft skills are or of how to attain them. Here are some tips for developing soft skills; the benefits will be seen in not only your professional endeavors but in your personal life.
- Develop a drive or work ethic. One’s drive or levels of work ethic are hard to put into numbers, but within a few minutes, it is pretty easy to tell whether or not a given employee has a strong drive to get things done in a timely manner. Employees who show strong work ethics are more likely to get things done, which means they are more likely to be noticed for their good work.
Becoming noticed leads to promotions and other benefits such as job security. Like anything else, it is possible to strengthen one’s work ethic through practice. External sources of reinforcement such as bonuses can help in the short term, but in the long term, you’ve got to find an internal reason to get things done on time and ahead of time instead of behind schedule, even if that reason is simply for the satisfaction of getting things done.
- Focus on your communication skills. Employees who wish to be successful can’t just know things; they need to be able to communicate them with others in an effective manner. Soft skills are all about communication, whether that communication is through the spoken word or through the written word. While some people are naturally farther along when it comes to effective communication than others, just about everyone can improve his or her standing through sustained practice.
It’s impossible to explain creativity. It’s like asking a bird, ‘How do you fly?’ You just do.
Eric Jerome Dickey
Some people find benefits in courses in public speaking, while others may find classes in theatre or drama more helpful. Still others may improve their communication skills simply by practicing consistently in front of a mirror. Do whatever it takes to become a better communicator, as there are too many benefits to doing so to pass this soft skill up.
- Become a champion of teamwork. This is simply being a team player. While the idea of being a lone ranger or lone wolf who gets things done on his or her own without help from others may be romantic, it also has a number of negative associations in the workplace. It’s okay to prefer working on your own, but you also need to develop the ability to get things done when you need to rely on other people. Work to become a team player and you’ll see the rewards in your paycheck and personal life.