Just as tastes in clothing and music change over time, so do the preferences of hiring managers, notes Tracey Turner, executive director of The Creative Group, a specialized staffing firm placing creative, advertising, marketing and web professionals. According to Turner, candidates who understand the current mindset of employers have an edge in the job hunt.
"Today's managers are risk-averse; they simply cannot afford to make hiring mistakes. As a result, they're interested in applicants with a documented record of success," Turner says. "For job candidates this means being able to show, not just tell, what they can do. Words hold very little weight right now; employers want proof of a professional's abilities."
Turner says that more information is better than less when applying for jobs.
"Employers are willing to spend added time reviewing resumes and cover letters, so these materials can be more detailed than in the past."
Candidates also should be prepared for a lengthier interview process, including meetings with potential peers.
"Professionals must ensure their resumes reflect their achievements in former positions and illustrate all of the skills they bring to the table, since companies may be hiring one person to fill what was once several different roles."
Following are job-hunting tactics that Turner says are "in" and "out" for 2004:
Using terms such as "team player" and "results-driven."
One-page resumes for people with seven or more years of experience.
Functional resumes organized around skills and experience.
Trying to camouflage employment gaps.
Relying on want ads for job leads.
Networking only within your industry.
Vague or embellished answers to standard interview questions.
References with impressive titles who don't know you very well.
Telling the interviewer you want the job.
Citing specific examples that demonstrate these sought-after traits.
Two- to three-page resumes that highlight quantifiable achievements.
Résumés that list work experience in reverse chronological order.
Explaining gaps in the cover letter, noting current activities (part-time or temporary work, volunteering, etc.).
Sending resumes to a "target list" of companies for which you want to work.
Networking within and outside of your industry, as well as online.
Real-life examples that illustrate the points you're making.
A variety of well-informed references, including former peers.
Offering to assume the role on a trial basis.
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