Building A Solutions-Based Resume

Mar 26 2012 in Featured, reCareered Blog, Resumes by Phil Rosenberg

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Skills-based resumes are a deeply ingrained habit that worked during times of skills/candidate shortages.

But what do you use during job shortages?

During job markets with job shortages, skills-based resumes no longer work because it’s easy to find many candidates with minimum skills (see:

We were taught how to write resumes that focused on our skills and qualifications, but today there are many qualified candidates.

The average job posting attracts 1,000 applicants (500 for small companies) and CareerBuilder projects that 77% of currently employed workers are searching for a job (plus unemployed/ underemployed).

These are giant numbers.

And while we’re not in a recession, we are in a continued slow job market, with continued job shortages … not candidate shortages.

So what do you do when you have job shortages and massive competition for jobs? When demonstrating your skills and qualifications are no longer enough (because employers can find many with the needed skills/qualifications)?

Today, employers are looking for more than just skills and qualifications … they are looking for solutions.

In a slow recovery, hiring managers aren’t able to get of their headcount requests approved … meaning that even when they’ve hired their full approved headcount, they are still understaffed. But that doesn’t reduce hiring manager goals …

So basically, hiring managers have to do more with less to meet their goals, gain their bonuses and advance their careers.

Increased production with constrained hiring is what’s driving corporate profits today … doing more with less. Great for companies, but not great for candidates trying to find a new job – because this makes an insanely competitive job market.

In order to meet their goals, most hiring managers have to create a team that’s extraordinarily efficient, so they can meet production, revenue, profit and cost reduction goals, all while working as a short-handed team.

This also means that few hiring managers today have the luxury of ramp up time or new-hire training, either instructor-led or on-the-job, for other than new grads in entry level jobs. They need new hires who can hit the ground running, with minimal ramp up time, who can be productive immediately.

Without ramp up or training for experienced new hires, hiring managers can no longer look for candidates who could do the job, or who could learn how to do the job. Instead they look for candidates who have already done the job – more specifically for candidates who have already solved the problems they face today and provided the value needed to meet present department goals.

They look for a solution, rather than skills.

That’s not to say skills aren’t important, but skills are determined today through automation – Applicant Tracking Systems. These automated systems aren’t perfect, but they do a decent job at weeding out unqualified candidates (and qualified candidates too), so hiring managers only see candidates with minimum skills.

As long as there are job shortages, there will be an excess of qualified candidates – so hiring managers don’t really care how many qualified candidates remain buried in the database. As long as the hiring manager can see a representative sample of candidates who meet their minimum criteria, they’re able to choose efficiently from a small pool of candidates.

When hiring managers determine who’s best of the candidates they’ve seen, they not only look at organizational fit, but also look for candidates who give them the best chance of meeting their goals. Hiring managers look for candidates who have already solved the problems they face today.

How can you demonstrate that you are the solution to a hiring manager’s problems?

Here are 5 steps to transform your skills-based resume into a solutions-based resume:

  1. Gain information: How can you show that you’ve already solved a hiring managers problems … unless you first understand their problems?
  2. Understand hiring manager priorities: Some problems have high priority … others have low priority. Demonstrating that you’ve already solved high priority problems is much more interesting to the hiring manager.
  3. Emphasize solutions instead of skills: Demonstrate how you’ve already solved priority problems that hiring manager faces today.
  4. Avoid job descriptions: Avoid describing your day to day responsibilities. Describing your past jobs makes you look like a commodity – because your resume looks like others who held similar jobs.
  5. Include value: By including the value you provided, you demonstrate that your solutions were valuable to your past companies … and leave the impression they’ll be valuable to your next employer.

Want to see if you’re still using a skills-based resume? Here’s a guide:

If you find you’re still using a skills-based resume, use the 5 steps above to restructure your resume … and revive your job search.


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Author: Phil Rosenberg

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