Creating an effective, "targeted" resume is the first step to getting a great job. But what do you do when you know you've found the perfect job and your credentials aren't quite right?
In this age of specialization, it is highly advisable to tailor your resume to the specific position you're applying for. After all, a general resume may not indicate the specific skills and accomplishments that would help you to achieve success in a given position. Creating a "targeted" resume simply makes sense from a business standpoint. It recognizes the fact that prospective employers are looking for specific qualifications when they're attempting to find a pool of candidates to interview for an advertised job.
But while a customized resume can be desirable in theory, it can be challenging from a practical viewpoint. After all, the process of resume revamping can be arduous and time-consuming. It can also be difficult to come up with the right list of keywords that will make an employer take special notice of your resume.
Perhaps the greatest challenge, however, occurs when you lack the credentials that an employer is looking for. While you obviously don't want to lie, indicating that you possess credentials that you actually lack, you don't want to call attention to your lack of experience or lack of education, either. Therefore, you're faced with a difficult dilemma: How do you market yourself effectively on your resume when, at first glance, you may not be the obvious candidate for the job, when you don't have the right degree?
It is actually not an uncommon problem for a job applicant to lack the desired degree for a given position. For instance, there are a number of mid-level managers who are highly effective at their jobs, who have years of real-world experience, but who never received Master's Degrees in Business Administration. Perhaps they simply did not have time to pursue an advanced degree because of their work schedules, or because family concerns prevented them from furthering their education.
Although the bachelor's degree has become standard in the workplace, not every employee even highly dedicated, motivated employees' has one. Granted, in a number of situations, the lack of a BA can be a major obstacle, since many jobs require specific knowledge or critical thinking skills that are most effectively developed in college. However, in an area like sales, a college degree can be less of a handicap. This is because many managers are more interested in an applicant's sales record rather than his or her business degree. In fact, corporate recruiters say that, the longer you've been in a given profession, the less important your degree becomes. What really matters is your professional accomplishments.
If you're in a situation where you don't have the specific degree recommended for a position, write your resume in such a way that you highlight those work-related achievements that might set you apart from the competition. Make sure that you include a summary of key career milestones at the top of your resume. And include information about professional accomplishments within the descriptions of duties for the various positions you've held. A prospective employer may be so overwhelmed by your record of achievement that he or she is willing to waive the degree requirement.
Also, if you are currently taking college courses in the hopes of completing a degree program, be sure to place the phrase "degree in progress" in the educational section of the resume. This shows that you are committed to furthering your education. A manager may also be impressed by your desire to obtain a degree and may actually help you to achieve that goal if you secure the position. If You Lack Sufficient Experience
You may be attracted to a position that would be highly challenging and professionally satisfying yet you may not have the years of relevant experience recommended in the want ad. This is an all too-common problem in today's workplace. While there is, in fact, no substitute for experience, it is possible to thrive in a job that you've had less-than-perfect preparation for.
But how do you convince a prospective employer of that fact? In some cases, you can make your case by stressing the quality of your experience over the quantity of years you've had in a given field. For instance, by highlighting the fact that you've worked as second-in-command of a successful business, you can negate an employer's concerns that you haven't really been in business that long. Describing your duties in a captivating way may cause an employer to forgive the fact that you have not yet put in the ten years experience recommended for a given position.
Another effective technique is by showing an employer how experience in an unrelated job has uniquely prepared you for the job at hand. For instance, take the case of an enterprising job applicant who wanted to become a chapter development director for a non-profit organization with chapters of volunteers throughout the state. The applicant was a long-time veteran of the business world, but she had never worked in chapter development. Yet, she managed to secure the desired position because she had a well-crafted resume that mentioned her highly developed organizational skills, her ability to network well with other people, and the entrepreneurial experience she gained when she ran her own home-based business. Think of Your Resume as a Sales Tool.
Finally, it is important for you to keep in mind that your resume can serve as an effective sales tool, the most important tool you have in selling your candidacy to an employer. Do not underestimate your skills or your achievements present them in the best possible light. An employer should be drawn to your resume because it is professional looking, succinct, and effective in communicating the message that you would be an impressive candidate for a given position. In other words, it is important that you do not under-sell yourself, simply because you lack one or more of the credentials listed in a position description. Think creatively and try to find ways to showcase skills that might be applicable to the position. If you produce the most appealing resume you can, the chances that you will get the job you want will increase significantly.