During the height of the Great Recession, the unemployment rate reached 10%; recently, it has dropped to 7.3%. However, there’s a “shadow” statistic that’s rarely reported: the labor participation rate, which is the percentage of Americans who are either working full-time, or are actively seeking full-time employment. Immediately preceding the recession the labor participation rate was nearly 67% in the U.S.; today it hangs at 63.2%, the lowest it’s been since August 1978.
Don’t get weary from the search for work. Keep plugging and remain in the pursuit. For those actively seeking employment, it’s important to get your resume recognized. Here are some things to try so your resume doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.
Take an Inventory of Your Skills and Abilities
This is the first step before ever putting pen to paper when composing your resume. One effective exercise is to place a blank sheet of paper on your refrigerator, or any place you visit frequently. Every time you go to the refrigerator, add a skill you possess to the list.
If you have trouble creating this list, you might want to start with your accomplishments or any awards you’ve won, and from that point figure out what skills you employed in order to complete the project. This list is a work in progress, and may take several days to complete.
This exercise allows you to see all the talents you have and may not even be aware of. If it helps, have family members add to the list, as it’s often difficult to describe yourself.
Figure Out What They Want
It’s really not about you; it’s about them. Today many resumes aren’t chronological; they are “functional” in nature, displaying all the skills you possess and how you used them throughout your career. You would begin your resume with the skill you possess that the employer is looking for the most, and go on from there.
Yes, that means you need to customize your resume to fit the job description. A good idea is to make sure when describing your skills you use the same words the employer used in the job description. That way you’re giving it right back to them in the exact manner they asked, which is likely to resonate with them.
Add Something Truly Unique About Yourself
This is the icing on the cake. This generally has absolutely nothing to do with the job, but will allow you to stand out among all the other candidates. Think in terms of your hobbies or extracurricular activities. Did you play a role in the church pageant? Do you skydive? Did you win an award for your recipe for clams? Most employers are seeking individuals who are well rounded and can add diversity to the workplace. Most often, skills used in outside activities can be transferred to the job and allow you to be more productive. Use those activities to your advantage!
Don’t let your resume get lost in the shuffle.