By Martin Yate, CPC
Show me a stalled job search and I’ll show you a flawed resume. First of all, to be successful your resume must focus on a specific target job. That general resume, like one size fits all clothing, usually fits no one. Secondly, a job-targeted resume needs to begin with an analysis of what your customers are buying, to result in a resume that truly targets those customers.
When you take the time to do this target job deconstruction, and then build a resume focused on your customers’ needs, it will be pulled from the resume databases with greater regularity, getting you into conversation with more recruiters more often. This is how you do it:
Collect 6 job postings for the job you are best qualified to do and save them in a folder. Try to use jobs located in your target area, but if you don’t have enough local jobs, collect job descriptions from anywhere: for target job deconstruction, the location of the job doesn’t matter what’s important is understanding how employers define, prioritize and express their needs.
Open a new MSWord document and title it "TJD" for Target Job Deconstruction. Add a subhead reading Job Title, then copy and paste in the variations from each of your sample job descriptions. Looking at the result, you can say, “when employers are hiring people like me they tend to describe the job title with these words.”
From these examples, then come up with a Target Job Title for your resume. Coming right after your name and contact information, this helps your resume perform well in resume database searches and acts as a headline giving human eyes an immediate focus on who and what the resume is about. This again helps your resume’s performance.
Add a second subhead titled:
Look through the job postings for a single requirement that’s common to all six of your job postings. Take the most complete description of that single requirement and copy and paste it into your TJD doc, putting a #6 by your entry to signify it is common to all.
Check the other job postings for different words and phrases used to describe this same job skill, and copy and paste them beneath the entry you created. Repeat this exercise for other requirements common to all six of your sample job postings. The result will be a list of the skills/requirements that all employers feel are of prime importance, and the words they use to describe them.
Repeat this process for requirements common to five of the jobs and then four and so on all the way down to those requirements mentioned in only one job posting.
When this is done you can look at your work and say, “when employers are hiring people like me they tend to refer to them by these job titles; they prioritize their needs in this way and use these words to describe their prioritized needs.” At this point you have a template for the story your resume needs to tell.
Generate illustrative examples of your competency with the skills that employers identify as priorities. You should remember that jobs are only ever added to the payroll for two reasons:
1. To make money or save money for the company, or to otherwise increase productivity.
2. To identify, prevent and solve the problems/challenges that occur in your area of expertise that interfere with the company’s pursuit of #1.
Working through your list of prioritized employer requirements, identify the problems that typically arise when you are executing your duties in that particular area of the job. Then for each problem identify:
Going back to the prioritized requirements you identified in earlier steps, consider each individual requirement and recall the best person you have ever known doing that aspect of the job. Next, identify what made that person stand out in your mind as a true professional; think of personality, skills, and behaviors: perhaps s/he always had a smile, listened well, and had good critical thinking and time-management skills.
Together with the specific technical skills of the job you have already identified, this will give you a behavioral profile of the person every employer wants to hire, plus a behavioral blueprint for subsequent professional success.
Looking one last time at the list of prioritized requirements in your target job deconstruction, consider each individual requirement and recall the worst person you have ever known doing that aspect of the job. Perhaps s/he was passive-aggressive; never listened, was rarely on time with projects or for meetings.
This time you will have a complete behavioral profile of the person no employer wants to hire and a behavioral blueprint for professional failure.
Pulling it all together
Target Job Deconstruction will give you the insight into your target job to maximize your resume’s productivity both in resume databases and with recruiters and hiring managers. You also know the areas of specific interest that will most likely fuel tricky interview questions. Because you have thought things through, this means that you will now have answers to those questions and will be able to illustrate them with examples. You also have a behavioral blueprint for professional success.
Martin Yate, CPC, author of Knock 'em Dead: Secrets & Strategies for Success in an Uncertain World, is a New York Times and international bestseller of job search and career management books. He is the author of 11 job search and career management books published throughout the English speaking world and in over 50 foreign language editions. Over thirty years in career management, including stints as an international technology headhunter, head of HR for a publicly traded company and Director of Training and Development for an international employment services organization.