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Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Employers Don't Hire Potential
“I don’t know why I’m not getting interviews,” said Don, “I know I can do the job. I just need a chance to prove it.” Don was operating under the mistaken idea that employers hire new employees for their potential. He had been a senior project manager for five years and was ready to take the next step to Director of IT. He had done a great deal of work that a director would do but he had not held the title so he only included his project management experience on his resume. He was presenting himself for the next career level through his resume, but his resume was only garnering interest in him for project management positions. He was frustrated that he couldn’t seem to get out of the project management role.

It’s not surprising that he was only getting calls for project management jobs. His resume was all project management. Since employers hire experience, they were looking at his extensive project management track record and finding he was a great fit for their project management positions. Unfortunately, that wasn’t his goal; he was ready to move on.

To be considered for director-level positions, it was vital that his resume read like a director’s resume. We had to show he had experience managing IT budgets, directing multiple teams, strategic planning, and working on big-picture initiatives. The language of his resume had to be changed from project management to executive leadership. The organization had to get away from project details to larger-scale decision making experience. He had all this experience but it wasn’t showing in his resume.

Don had constructed his resume himself and did like most people do – put down his job descriptions and what he had done in his previous jobs. He had not thought about the strategy of the resume and what it needed to accomplish. He assumed that employers could look at his background and make the leap of faith that he was ready for the next career step. Unfortunately, employers won’t do that. They want to hire people who have a track record of solving problems similar to what they are facing. They want someone who knows the ropes and is ready to hit the ground running. Only rarely is someone hired for potential and then it is usually an internal hire where the candidate’s already demonstrated first-hand his/her potential.

Considering strategy, audience, and goal is crucial when designing a resume that will gain interviews. So many people who write their own resumes (and even some inexperienced professional writers) only think getting the job history down is important. A resume is a document that has a purpose – to communicate the correct message to the reader to fill a need. If the employer feels from reading the resume that the candidate has the right skill set and background, an interview will result. If the resume doesn’t communicate that, a “thank you- we’ll keep your resume for future reference” note will be sent to the candidate and the employer will go on to the next candidate. It’s possible the next candidate has no better qualifications than the first, but rather has done a better job communicating to the reader in the resume.

November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 /


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