You’ve spotted your dream job, and you want your candidacy to scream “obvious match.” The hiring team will inevitably make an instant initial judgement of your profile, and we want to help you give an amazing first impression.
Interested in stress-tested best practices for optimizing your resume, LinkedIn, portfolio website, or GitHub profile? Whether you’re an engineer, product-person, designer, or business guru, we recommend the following guidelines as your foundation to craft materials that will make your candidacy shine.
- Channel your inner ad(wo)man, not your inner historian.
During your job search you are a marketer with one product to sell — your time going forward. Think of your search materials not as a historical record of accomplishments, but as equipment for pitching what you want next. With that in mind, take a look at the highlights and experience you’ve listed on your job search materials: What information is useful for what you want to do next, and what takes away? Has anything lost relevance at this point in your career? If so, make like KonMari and get rid of it! Less will be more, as your pitch will benefit from increased focus.
- Game-ify resume writing by playing “buzzword bingo”.
What if you could stack the deck in your favor by deliberately aligning your profile with your target position through a process we call “job match optimization?” In short, you grab your target job post(s), then reverse engineer your marketing materials to translate your actual experience to the job description, so that you rank highly in the employer’s candidate search. Specifically, we suggest leveraging a powerful tool like jobscan.co, which programmatically analyzes the match between your resume and the job description, and suggests what parts to update. We’re such fans of Jobscan that we reached out to Founder & CEO James Hu, who was gracious to share that “the average candidate can make their resume 50% more effective if they spend just a few minutes to effectively align their materials with their interests.”
- Summarize your pitch
What’s your elevator pitch? How would you summarize what you do in a single sentence? How about 7 words or less? Cody, a recent job-seeker who leveraged Layoff-Aid as Chariot was going out of business, listed his pitch in just 3 words: "Data data data." Whether you’re writing a LinkedIn headline, putting a byline on your portfolio website, or summarizing your experience on your resume, build it in a way that is easy for people to remember two things: what you do (for example, I am a Data Scientist), and what makes you unique (all day I dream about data).
- Quantify your impact
So you’ve done some things. That’s pretty cool! At what scale? What lessons did you learn? How much did the business grow? How much more efficient was your optimization algorithm? How big was the team you managed? How many support teammates relied on your dashboard? How often were you presenting to executives? Tell your story with numbers. “Managed a team of operations professionals” misses an opportunity to showcase complexity and depth. “Managed a team of 16 operations professionals across 3 offices in 2 countries” helps to explain that you have experience leading remote teams of non-trivial size. Don’t just list the things you’ve done. Also quantify your accomplishments whenever possible. Otherwise, you might only be showcasing 42% of your full potential ;)
Marketing yourself in a job search may feel like an art, but there is a certain science to it. As the architect of your own career, your challenge is to send a targeted message to the hiring contacts who matter most. Why wouldn’t you use data and technical tools to help conquer that challenge? The strongest job search materials feel to hiring managers like they have been specifically tailored to their unique job opportunity — and with a little sprucing up, you can send that feeling more effectively than ever. Good luck in your interviews!