Pay attention to the most important figure in your job search strategy

Do you know the most important figure in your job search strategy?

For two key reasons, there is certain number that professionals should keep in mind when developing their job search strategy and career marketing materials. Before delving into the specifics of the number I am referring to, here are some basic realities associated with modern job search practices:

1) You only get one chance to make a first impression – don’t waste it!
2) Employers are selective, not necessarily objective
3) Competition is fierce, clutter is your main foe
4) You don’t have to be the best, just convince decision-makers that you are
5) There are no magic, one-size-fits-all formulas, but common-sense is a plus

Regarding first impressions, whether being found in person, online or on paper, you must have your act together. That means your physical and tangible appearance as well as any virtual representations of you must all reflect the image you wish to portray.

When it comes to your career marketing presence in the form of an online profile, business bio or resume, there is no excuse for mistakes. If you are a professional expecting to be viewed as a credible person in your industry; spelling, grammar, formatting, fonts, punctuation and word-usage must be 100% top-notch. No exceptions.

Everyone knows it is an employers market. If and when the supply and demand equation switches over to the employees’ favor, it doesn’t mean the sourcing, screening and selection process will get any easier for job seekers. Staffing professionals, hiring managers and anyone else involved with hiring others will continue to be as selective as they wish and free to use any and all subjective criteria they deem appropriate to make their decisions.

While the immediacy of information exchange via the Internet has enhanced our lives immensely, there are a few areas where the ease of use has actually created too much clutter. Harmless enough in appearance, the “apply now” button has allowed practically anyone, anywhere, at anytime to express interest in open opportunities posted online. The good news, fast action for you. The bad news, fast action for your competition and countless clueless clowns cluttering up the queue.

The familiar cliché “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” along with its counterpart, “it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you” are still prominent factors in getting your foot in the door. What this means is that being in the right place at the right time is priceless. As is, the ability to find a “buyer” for what you are “selling.”

We’ve all worked with and for blithering idiots and probably scratched our heads upon finding out one of them received yet another promotion or landed a new even more impressive position at a premiere employer. They are living, breathing and soul-sucking proof that it isn’t always about being the best at your profession.

Whether intentional or accidental, these folks manage to find an audience for their message and it mysteriously works time and time again. Frustrating as that ubiquitous phenomenon may be, it means the rest of us have to try even harder to rise up as the differentiated, distinct and distinguished professionals that we are…

So, if there is no magical, sure-thing formula, what type of common-sense approach is the next best thing? Considering the above points, there are two main reasons and two critical, yet simple, ways that job seekers should strive for differentiation from their competition. For the purpose of this discussion, I will refer to this as the 95% rule.

The first priority is to make sure you meet approximately 95% of the requirements typically expected by employers in your industry and for your desired level position. There is more to it than a cursory glance at a few ads on or

Being that this is one of the tightest job markets in history, it really makes no sense to waste time applying if there is a wide skill gap or if you don’t already have an advocate on the inside. Devising an effective career marketing strategy and corresponding messaging involves understanding and communicating what your audience expects in the most impactful and consistently reinforced manner.

Next, job seekers need to avoid being amongst 95% of applicants who submit resumes that are instantaneously rejected. The importance of first impressions is no more evident than the reality that as few as 5% of resumes received actually make it past a 30-second skim to be reviewed further.

Why is that the case? Too many possibilities to list, but the primary problem is that most people, no matter how much of an expert they are in their field, are not equipped to view and assess their own information objectively and from the standpoint of marketing themselves for their next opportunity.

Again, there is more to putting together a meaningful total package presentation than generic tips you pick up at the local unemployment office or free community center job preparation workshop. Free stuff is great when you get to sample a few snacks at the warehouse store, not such a value if it fails to positively impact your professional progress.

Remember, the figure 95% is high for a reason… Raise your standards to ensure you meet or exceed those of the decision makers in your future.

Article by Kelly Blokdijk~ As a Talent Optimization Coach & Consultant with TalentTalks, Kelly thrives on “Creating a Voice for Talent” by partnering with business professionals and job seekers to build competitive career marketing strategies, customized communication materials and compelling personal branding campaigns to create a lasting positive impression. TalentTalks consults with the business community on innovative, leading-edge human resource and organization development initiatives to enhance talent management, talent acquisition, corporate communications and employee engagement programs. TalentTalks routinely posts employment market and job search related content on Facebook and Twitter – fans and followers welcome!


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