By Perry Newman
High among today's best selling novels and top rated television shows are story lines that revolve around the exploits of profilers, who are usually the 'good guys.'
While on the flip side one of the hottest topics of debate in America today is the use of racial and ethnic profiling to identify potential criminals and terrorists, and many see these profilers as the 'bad guys.' Thankfully I am not here to discuss politics or TV and book reviews.
As most of you know, profiling is not something new, and it has been an integral part of the talent acquisition process for as long as I know. So what I would like to do here is discuss resume profiling from the employer's point of view and from the job seekers perspective. This insight will help you determine if you have a winning or average resume, and if the document you are using is more harmful to you than helpful in your job search.
First let me offer my interpretation of Resume Profiling. Resume profiling is when the person who is reading the resume looks at facts the candidate presents, and how they are presented, independently. Then they come to a conclusion about the candidate based on their interpretation of what they have read as a collective whole, and form an opinion as to whether this candidate conforms to the prototype they are looking to hire.
Some people find resume profiling offensive and prejudicial when they are judged this way, especially when the profile may include judging a candidate based on uncontrollable gaps in their employment, the quality of their education based on the school they attended, and the supposed quality of their work and experience based on who they worked for.
However as much as you may not agree with this system it has been in place for a long time, and it has worked. So rather than complain about something you have no control over you need to learn how to conform to it!
UNDERSTANDING PROFILING FROM THE EMPLOYERS POINT OF VIEW
Employers know what they are looking for skills wise for a specific position, and they also have a prototype of the type of employee they want in their company, in that department, and in that particular position. In many instances they have already drawn up an in-depth profile of what the person they are willing to hire must look like on paper and in person. This profile in many companies has been designed by HR and OD specialists, often with the input of an environmental psychologist.
When screening anywhere from one dozen to upwards of 300 resumes for a single job, employers don't take the time to read every resume cover to cover, and they surely do not analyze all the attributes a candidate brings to the table. The initial resume screening process is generally a quick, perfunctory reading of the resume where the reader seeks to identify whether this candidate meets the pre-determined profile that has already been drawn up for this hire.
What I have found, and repeated over and over in my blogs, is that there is always bound to be many candidates who are equally qualified for a job and a few who may stand out on the basis of sheer qualifications. Yet, when it comes down to making a decision the best – which is not necessarily the most qualified – person for a job is usually the one who is hired.
In other words, if you want to be placed in the pile of resumes that are deemed worthy of an interview, you must present yourself as fitting the profile for the position in both skills and personality.
PROFILING FROM THE EMPLOYEES PERSPECTIVE
When writing a resume it is essential that you understand what it is that the company is looking for in terms of tangible and intangible skills and the prototype of people that work for this company. Much of this information can be gleamed from a recruiter you are friendly with who knows this company or this field, and from current and former employees. It is up to you to do this research before you begin writing; whether you are a professional resume writer or you're writing your own resume.
The next step is simple yet complicated. On a majority of the resumes I write one of the sections – if not the first – I include is titled Profile, Professional Profile or Executive Profile depending on the client and the image we want to present.
This is the simple part. Since I know the screener is looking to profile my client, rather than let him or her draw their own conclusion about this person, I lead them to develop a profile of my client as I want them to be viewed.
As I said including the Profile section is the easy part. Knowing what information to put in it and how to present it, now that is the hard part. On most resumes I critique the writer's fail in presenting a desirable profile.
But even a great profile is not enough. What clinches the deal is creating the desired profile upfront so the reader is now predisposed to accept you as a candidate they find acceptable, and then filling in the blanks about what makes you exceptional.
The key is you should expect to be profiled, and know how to manipulate the facts in your favor. But as I said for most people this is easier said than done. So when in doubt, consult a professional. Resume writing is not something you want to learn to master by trial and error.