If you’re going to rock the job market and get interviews, then you have to be strategic about the skills you feature in your resume’s story.
The goal is to hit the sweet spot of alignment between what you want and what employers want.
Why Bother Matching Your Resume Skills to the Market?
Do you remember the cartoon where a guy is looking for his car keys under a streetlight, even though he lost them two blocks away? Because he can see better under the light.
Writing a resume that only features the skills you like to use, without any consideration for employers’ needs, is like the guy looking for his keys under the light. Sure, it’s easier only to focus on what you want, but it probably won’t help you find a job – just like he won’t find his keys.
How to Align What You Want with What Employers Want
I talked with several career coaches. Most of them suggest starting with what you want and then matching your desires to the market.
Others like to reverse engineer the process. They look at what the market wants and help their clients figure out how they match up.
The key to accelerating your job search is to make finding the sweet spot of alignment a top priority. Don’t waste valuable time on an untargeted search, trying to sell skills the market doesn’t want.
How to Identify the Skills You Have & Want to Use
- Look at Your Daily Life
Carlota Zimmerman, a New York City coach, keeps it straightforward. She asks her clients to walk through a day in their life and write down all of the skills they use. She says the results are staggering.
Jo Rowbotham, Marketing Manager for First Step Group, used a similar approach when she worked at a recruitment agency. She had job seekers who had been out of the workplace prepare a storybook about their typical, non-workforce day.
Again, this revealed a mountain of skills. It also disrupted the job seekers’ beliefs that they lacked skills and empowered them to apply for jobs they wouldn’t have considered otherwise.
- Look at Your Major Life Decisions
Marilyn Santiesteban, Assistant Director of Career Services at Texas A&M’s Bush School of Government & Public Service, has people walk her through their career choices.
She asks questions such as:
Did an early experience influence your career choice? What was it?
Do your values impact your career choice? How?
How did you choose your major?
The answers to those questions and more yield rich information about skills people often aren’t consciously aware they have.
- Look at Your Major Life Successes
Susan Peppercorn, a Boston career coach, has her clients analyze their accomplishments.
She described a client who helped a local university implement a new budgeting process:
The department heads were skeptical of the new system and resisted the change. By looking at the situation, the actions her client took, and the outcome, they identified her client’s knowledge of budgeting and finance, her problem solving and communications skills, and her ability to be persistent.
- The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
Donna Schilder, a Los Angeles career coach, uses the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). It’s an instrument that was originally developed to help people understand personal preferences and use them to make good career choices. Donna says that studies show we tend to be better at work that falls within our preferences.
- DiSC Profile
Camille Carboneau Roberts, a federal career consultant, has her clients complete a DiSC profile. She says the results build awareness beyond skills and help her clients understand how they fit into teams.
- Focus & Refine
Phyllis Mufson, a Florida coach who works with career changers, has her clients get real. She asks people to look at their skills and identify:
The skills they must be able to use in their jobs – their deal breakers.
The skills they would like to use – their negotiables.
It’s important to realize that most people have a third set of skills – the ones they have but don’t want to use. Don’t get caught in the trap of using skills you don’t enjoy. Your entire life can pass in this manner if you don’t develop self-awareness and direct yourself to greater satisfaction.
How to Identify the Market for Your Favorite Skills
You can search for jobs you want to do by keyword and O*NET will return a summary of the tasks, tools, technology, knowledge, skills, abilities, activities, education, credentials, interests, work styles, and work values involved in the job.
That’s just the summary. You can click a details tab and get even more information.
- LinkedIn/My Network/Find Alumni
Chaim Shapiro, Assistant Director of Career Services at Touro College, suggests using LinkedIn’s Alumni Finder. Click “My Network/Find Alumni” on LinkedIn to activate the tool. Type your major (or any relevant major) into the search box and LinkedIn will tell you where your fellow alums work.
Chaim notes that while LinkedIn defaults you to your school, you can also change the school. Pull up all of the schools in your area, plug in your major, and you’ll get a pretty comprehensive list of local target employers.
- Job Boards
- LinkedIn Searches
Donna also has her clients use LinkedIn to find people who have their favorite skills. This helps her clients find possible career paths and potential employers.
Marc Miller, Career Designer at Career Pivot, suggests that you search LinkedIn for people who live in your area that have your aspirational job title, certifications, and/or keywords. Once you find them, you’ve also found the employers who comprise the local market for your skills. More here.
Back to the Skills to Put on Your Resume
Once you know what you want, and what employers want, you will have a list of skills and other keywords to weave into the story your resume tells. You’ll be ready to rock the market with a right-now, relevant resume and get the interviews you want.
I write executive resumes and LinkedIn profiles. Save time. Get hired. See my bio and recommendations here, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.