Using Professional Services for Your Job Search
The following is the first of a two-part series on using professional services to advance your candidacy in today’s competitive job market.
In today’s competitive job market, you may find it advantageous to pay professionals who provide resources and support to build highly marketable application documents (such as resumes, curriculum vitae (CV), and cover letters) and LinkedIn profiles.
Let’s start with the basics of securing a job. The fact is you have only one chance to make a strong impression, especially with the use of applicant tracking systems (ATS) and the limited time available for those serving in hiring roles to thoroughly read the details of each resume/ CV and cover letter. On average, your documents will be quickly scanned in 6-10 seconds to determine if you meet the basic qualifications of the position. This is where hiring a professional can make a significant difference in how your candidacy is judged.
Getting a job has never been easy. And, for many, it may seem like it is only getting harder, especially as competition is far greater when considering remote opportunities, internal candidates, and now five generations (traditionalists, baby boomers, Gen X, millennials, and Gen Z) in the workplace. Any one of these challenges, or several combined, will certainly play a factor in the success of any job search.
What this means for job seekers is that employers have larger pools of candidates that include those who are accomplished and known in their careers and industry. But this is not to say that gaining a new or higher-level job is impossible; it just means attention is needed in the approach that is taken.
Q: Why should I pay for professional services? Are the reasons for someone who’s just starting their career different for someone who considers themselves mid- or late-career?
With the increasing number of candidates in the job market, it can be beneficial to hire an experienced professional who can take an objective view of your current documents to customize and tailor your achievements according to what hiring officials expect to see in today’s market. Additionally, many recruiters/talent specialists/search committees utilize LinkedIn to locate “passive” job candidates.
Candidate pools today can range from 50 to 1,000 + applications, all of whom believe they are the perfect candidate. Hiring a professional to develop your documents can help frame your experience and accomplishments using keywords, phrases, and information that will help push your documents through an ATS. These professionals understand what employers seek and know what questions to ask about your experience to identify key elements of your story that are engaging and persuasive.
That said, even with the best-framed documents, you should always be open to personalizing and tailoring them to match the needs of each position you apply for – there is no one-size-fits-all resume/CV or cover letter. Also important is to recognize that a professional provider can only develop documents from your experience. What you have done to this point in your career is what you bring to an employer. They can better package what you have to offer an employer.
Q: What’s the best way to find a professional for my job application support?
Your resume and/or CV is your story; it communicates what you have accomplished in your career. A writer will spend time understanding your strengths, achievements, and goals to create a document that showcases what you bring to an employer.
Whether your focus is advancing in your current industry, making a career change, or simply gaining a job, be it your first job, a different job, or coming out of unemployment, ensuring that your job application documents are well-prepared, professional, and customized will help you to stand out among your peers. This is where hiring a qualified and experienced professional trained in job seeker services can make a difference.
While you can use the internet to quickly search for a ‘resume writer’, a better tactic is finding an organization that provides training and certification and utilizing their directory to find an expert to ensure you are working with someone that best fits your needs. While many people are promoting themselves as ‘resume writers’, it would be wise to research writers’ certifications. A couple of notable respected organizations, include but are not limited to, the Professional Association of Résumé Writers & Career Coaches™ (PARWCC) and the National Resume Writer Association (NRWA). As you are considering writers, look at their career history, for example using LinkedIn to find out what range of experience they have and ask questions related to their expertise.
Q: Are there any free or nominal-cost services and resources that I can use?
While hiring a professional to assist in writing your resume, CV, cover letter, or LinkedIn profile can save time and make a significant difference in the quality of your documents and online professional presence, I would be remiss if I did not mention that most college, universities, and trade schools offer career support services to both current students and alumni. These services may be housed in either the campus career services center or the alumni office.
Some of their services may include:
- access to job search strategies that include job boards
- invitations to campus career fairs
- resume, CV, and cover letter workshops and reviews
- webinars on topics, like interviewing, negotiating offers, etc.
- networking events with both fellow alumni and businesses the office has partnered with
- guest speaker and professional development workshops
- virtual job seeker resources
- curated career guides for different market needs
In addition, often for a small fee, you may have access to career coach/counselor/career advisors, mentorship relationships, career assessment tools, career transition guidance, and discounts on certificate or continuing education programs.
To understand what tools and resources are available to you, reach out to both the career services and alumni offices where you graduated.
In part two of this series, we will discuss the best strategy for finding a qualified and trusted professional to aid you in your job search as well as questions to ask as you narrow your search.
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About the Author: Sara Ermeti has worked in HR leadership for nearly 30 years in various industries such as higher education, NFP, Religious, Financial, Entertainment, and Transportation. She is also an adjunct professor teaching courses in HR and Business. Sara is a certified coach and resume writer offering individual and business consulting through Esperto HR Office.