Is your resume like a home with a view of a toxic waste dump?

If you are in a job search rut, try picturing yourself as a house for sale… I’m a dedicated viewer of HGTV’s decorating, redesign, remodeling, staging, buying and selling shows. As I was watching one of these programs the other day, it got me thinking how similar the activities involved with selling a home are to the job search process.

On this particular show there was a homeowner struggling for months to sell her property. Hmmm, I bet that sounds familiar to many job seekers… The real estate expert suggested some adjustments to make her home more appealing – one was to make some upgrades and cosmetic changes. The other recommendation was to lower the price.

The idea was that if the house showed better and was more in line with buyer expectations, it would sell faster. Just like homeowners trying to sell during a downturn, the familiar themes of a tough economy, tight market and lots of competition for job seekers mean the best strategies make the difference in results happening sooner versus later.

Homesellers usually take several steps when preparing their home for display. It could be simple or complex depending on the home’s condition. Either way, real estate transactions involve matters of financial significance just like many areas related to career management. One of the most obvious starting points of a job search is the creation of a visually appealing, impeccably edited and professional quality resume. The goal here is to generate the potential to be considered for as many applicable opportunities as possible.

A resume’s overall appearance is like the curb appeal of a piece of property. If it looks messy, poorly maintained and outdated, the buyer will pass it by. If it is well-landscaped and has a nice look and feel, people will want to take a look around inside. Likewise, if at first glance the reader sees a visually appealing resume, they will be more likely to keep reading.

The resume’s content is like the architecture and layout of a home. If it has all of the right features in place for the current market, chances are it will get the right kind of attention. On the other hand, if the style or floor plan does not flow well, the buyer will have hard time picturing a fit and won’t necessarily have the patience or imagination to do so. While there may be a select group of homebuyers looking for a “needs some work” bargain, most employers aren’t in the market for fixer-uppers.

Next, the décor, fixtures, accessories and finishing details make the property unique and interesting. On a resume, this is where targeted and relevant action and result experience statements build a compelling story to help the screener recognize a match. Home buyers create dream home wish lists just like hiring managers create job posting wish lists. Whether that means they want a fireplace, a pool or 10 years of software development experience, they know it when they see it.

Finally, just like upgrades and special features are added bonuses to a home, the same concept applies to a resume. Here is where the precise editing and flawless quality come in to the picture. If a home buyer looks at several homes and starts the compare and contrast process, usually there are certain factors that weigh in their decision making. It could be the new roof, fresh paint or location. With resumes, the review process is far more accelerated. In fact, any flaw at all could mean instant elimination. There is no tolerance for errors, no room to compromise on quality and no time to waste by not getting it right the first time.

To put this into property perspective: Imagine typos equaling a severe mold problem. Spelling and grammar mistakes would be on the level of a termite-infested leaky roof. Funky fonts and formatting issues would be like having a view of a toxic waste dump. Improper word usage and inconsistent tense compares to a cracked and sinking foundation. Inability to concisely communicate value-added qualifications is the equivalent of a home needing all new electrical and plumbing in order to meet code requirements.

Obviously, many, if not most of these items would be deal-breakers for a home buyer. Don’t let the same concept apply to your resume. Just like the homeowner being advised to make some improvements to sell her home, job seekers should consider a similar approach for faster and better results. Keep in mind the famous slogan: “Image is everything!”

TalentTalks | Creating a Voice for Talent


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