Why resumes are so hard to write
And why they won’t be getting any easier.
By Jacquie Liversidge
The major challenge faced by job hunters presently is not a scarcity of jobs. In fact, the job market at the present time is not experiencing any shortage of jobs.
But it does feel that way.
Applicants are applying and not hearing back, and employers are complaining of a skills shortage and low numbers of quality applications for roles across the gamut of industries.
The primary challenge in the job hunt at the moment is managing the disparity between the applicant’s expectations of what they need to supply and the employers’ expectations from candidate’s applications.
The employer’s problem right now:
- Getting roles to appear to users online for job search terms on job listing websites (SEEK, LinkedIn,
- Indeed, etc)
- Outlining the expectations of the roles to ensure a good fit
- Attracting candidates with the right values-fit
- Determining one candidate’s value from other
- Avoiding wasting time interviewing poor quality applicants
- Getting candidates to supply the right information to make a determination
The applicant’s problem right now:
- Dissecting over-worded, lengthy position descriptions
- Supplying the right information to be selected over competing applicants
- Exhaustion from different job application requirements
- Lack of objectivity in own skill’s assessment and or value
- Not getting the message across quickly
Essentially, applicants and employers have the same problems:
- Time lost
- Lack of clarity
- Value not demonstrated to either party
The expectations on content have risen astronomically because of the amount of content we each consume each day in the form of social media, news, advertising and video content.
We have become fickle with content consumption and we are quick to discard what might not seem relevant to us, because we are utterly overwhelmed by content.
Behind every platform we use is a user-interface strategy and a team of experts designed at getting you to scroll onwards.
Significant efforts have been made to make the experience of the user fluid, goal-oriented and strategically funnelled towards an outcome. Why? These metrics are key to getting the user to take an action. Dwell time (time spent on the screen), bounce rate (when a user leaves the page without clicking on another page) all help a website rank higher on search engines.
And then we have employers writing their own position descriptions—which isn’t always the best idea!—and all of us writing our own resumes without these user-centred design skills in content construction.
If you flick from your resume to a website such as Apple’s, you only need to compare the content side by side to see what’s effectively selling something and getting a message across in record time to a reader, and what is not.
There is an expectation of written content from both applicant and employer that is inherently unrealistic, and certainly not proportionate to most jobs.
It is not your fault that your resume is not working. But until the disparity closes between expectations, rather than widens, this is what we are paired with in our hunt for jobs.
We have watched resumes, and particularly selection criteria, absolutely transform over time. Our team learnt search-engine optimization principles usually reserved for website content just to compete with this issue.
What works in applications at the moment is pitching unique value, understanding the fickle nature with which we absorb content, targeting content to get across a controlled narrative, and understanding with empathy the challenge of the employer.
Ultimately, your success in a role hinges on your ability to solve a problem for the employer or deliver value.
We don’t think it’s fair, but it is the way it is at the moment. And it will only get worse before it gets better.