A resume is a necessary requirement in the job search process for just about everyone, but there are some things that matter even more. This shouldn’t be taken as a sign to throw out your resume and focus on the following intangibles, but to make sure you have them in place along with an awesome resume.
If you have a degree in communications, it makes absolutely no sense for you to try and get a job as a doctor. That being said, many jobs are now more flexible in what kind of experience and credentials you need, but it’s still not a free-for-all.
Say you have a degree in psychology. You don’t automatically have to limit your job search to working as a psychologist, as your degree can work in many different situations. You’ve been trained in understanding how people operate, which makes you valuable in any job where you’re dealing with, well, people.
One key distinction to make is being a leader isn’t the same as having held management positions, and being thrust into a position of supposed leadership doesn’t automatically give you those skills. Someone can have the raw elements of leadership, but without working on it—much like being super tall doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be the next Yao Ming—you can’t call yourself a leader.
People get promoted for all sorts of reasons, so it’s up to you to show why you were a leader in them. Talk about specific situations and what you did in them: did you take charge but still listen to input from your team? Did you take initiative on tasks and constantly look for ways to streamline the process? This is what leaders do.
Not every speaks articulately and it holds some of them back, but having this ability will get you pretty far. As much as technology has infiltrated our lives, we’re still a predominantly speaking society and eloquent speakers are rewarded.
A classic example is President George W. Bush. Whether you agreed with his politics or not is secondary here, but what’s undeniable is his ability to get in front of a microphone and speak (as long as it wasn't his own words). The man knew the art of the rightfully-placed pause, and balanced that with injecting the right emotion in the right words.
One of the worst things to see in any workplace is that one employee who seems to live the color gray. They show few signs of life at their desk, their shoulders are hunched over, and it’s crystal clear the job depresses them. Even other work archetypes, like the office gossip or loud phone talker, are welcome because there’s at least a spark in their eyes.
Avoid becoming this person by knowing when enough’s enough. If you really hate your job that much, start the search for a new one (don’t quit before you’ve found another job, though). Or if it’s just you who needs a shakeup, figure out what you’re doing wrong and change it.
Any company worth its salt wants to see its employees personally invested in the future, and that they’re constantly thinking of how to improve it. This doesn’t mean you should walk around with a clipboard, pointing out everything that’s wrong with the company, but that you actually care.
The interview is the first opportunity you can convey this, and I’ll use an example from my own experience. One job really caught my eye so when I was talking to the hiring manager, I said something along the lines of, “I love how [Company] has a personalized boutique feel, but also has skilled enough staff to catch the big fish. It shows a great balance that I think I can help contribute to with my skills and experience, and I just knew I had to apply.” Boom—got the job. Feel free to use this line, but it sounds a lot better when you actually mean it, like I did.
Resumes aren’t just the only thing you need when applying for a job, and knowing what hiring managers value more can help you edge out the competition.