Ever find yourself questioning yourself, doubting your abilities, and ultimately falling victim to imposter syndrome because you’ve been laid off or lost your job for another reason and can’t seem to find another one? You’re not alone.
That’s why FGB’er Brandi H has reached out to the FGB community about questioning her own abilities and asking for suggestions.
“I was laid off of work almost a year ago,” she writes. “I decided to take some time off for myself and enjoy a little, which I did and loved every second of it. About five months ago I knew I needed to start looking for a job and assumed within a month or so I could land a job. I hold an MS and have a successful track record, and I am sending out resumes all day every day. Jobs I am qualified for, overqualified for, under-qualified for and nothing. I am not sure what else to do. I have simplified my resume and still no hits on it.”
Landing a job isn’t always easy — not even for the candidate with the most impressively decorated resume. But you have a support system of other women who’ve been there before, too, right here. Here’s how other FGB’ers suggest that Brandi H moves forward with her job hunt — and how you can keep on keepin’ on, too.
1. Tailor your resume for Applicant Tracking Systems.
“When you apply for a job on a website, most resumes are submitted through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) — this software scans your resume for matching phrases and keywords and sends those with an 80% ‘match’ to be reviewed by humans so, if you aren’t customizing your resume to fit the specific keywords/skills of the job posting, you sadly won’t stand much of a chance,” says FGB’er Sara Shepherd. “It doesn’t matter your actual experience — beating ATS software is a game you have to play to get your foot in the door for an interview.”
There are free tools you can use to compare your resume to a job posting, or you can create word clouds of the posting to compare to your own resume and look for gaps.
“Most ATS’ use or integrate with a resume parser that takes the data on your resume and dumps it into data buckets in the system — this is why some fields appear pre-populated with your data after you’ve uploaded your resume,” adds Victoria Conly, an FGB’er and an ATS Technical Analyst. “It’s pretty cool. However, some parsers don’t play nicely with fancy-pants resume formats. Photographs, tables, and other design graphics can sometimes confuse the system and prevent the data from going to the right place. To get around this, my suggestion is to keep your resume format simple. If you’re applying for a role that warrants some type of graphic representation, upload that document separately from your resume. Some people even have two versions. One for the parser and one for human eyes.”
2. Be kind to yourself.
“Be kind to yourself — one month is not a long time,” says Alice Johnson. “It took me three months, another friend six months, and a different person seven months. It’s a very competitive job market, and just because you aren’t hired yet does not mean you aren’t qualified. The job you are looking for will find you.”
3. Make your resume more than a laundry list of jobs.
“What so many fail to realize is that their participation in department/company projects is more important on the resume than a ‘laundry list’ of job description bullet points,” says FGB’er Afo Ogbeyalu Kalu. “When revising your resume, I suggest you lead with an introductory statement that summarizes your career path. Follow up with your experience in reverse chronological order, and identify the top three or four responsibilities that characterize your contributions to the department. Lead your bullet points with action words, and qualify the contributions by adding how your actions added value to the company.”
She also says to plainly state how you were instrumental to your projects’ successes using words and phrases like you “took the lead” and “executed,” “spearheaded” or “initiated” the project.
“You could even place your most impactful contribution under a separate heading, such as Career Highlight — I’ve used that heading for some of my clients, and I find that it draws interviewers’ attention, and it acts as a conversation starter.”
4. Use your resume space wisely.
Summary statements, for one, are debatable.
“Summary statements are usually best for more experienced professionals with years of experiences to tie together with a common theme (read: brand),” says GirlBossanova710634. “Or, alternatively, they can be used to tie together disparate experiences with a set of key transferable skills. On the other hand, if you have a pretty linear or straightforward career path, the space is probably better used for additional bullet points in each role.”
Likewise, you can probably cut some older experiences.
“I have been told to limit your experience to 10 to 15 years unless you have been in the same position longer than that,” GirlBossanova710634 adds. “One piece of advice I received was to list a section beneath your 10 to 15 years of experience called Additional Relevant Experience. There you can briefly list any other jobs that help qualify you for the position without going into a lot of detail or dates. It may help your resume make it past the Applicant Tracking System and into the hands of a live person. You can go into more detail in an interview if asked.”
5. Use a tried-and-true resume template.
“I know exactly what you are going through,” GirlBossanova710634 writes on the board. “Someone shared a resume template with me that really made a big difference. Once I started using it, I began getting interviews within a week or two.”