I need to be careful in this post as I am going through the process of hiring a new team member in my department. But I wanted to give some feedback to those of you who may be unemployed and can't seem to break through to an interview, or even a job offer. And, as always, I'll bring this around to why non profits continue to struggle with their marketing and what they can do to fix it.
First, your resume is your elevator speech. It is your first and last impression. It needs to be packaged to set you apart from all the other noise. For example, I am hiring a graphic designer and we've had more than 40 people apply for this position so far (actually, I think we have more than that -- those are only the resumes I've seen). My first pass was to go through the resumes and remove any resume that wasn't designed. If you can't package your own content, how should I expect you to package my company's content?
While not everyone is applying for a graphic design position -- you are applying for something and trying to sell yourself. How have you packaged your content? How do you stand apart from the rest of the crowd? Are you one of many, or one of one? Non profits have the same issue when it comes to their direct mail and other promotions. Have you packaged yourself in the same envelope, same tri-fold, same flyer as everyone else? How do you stand apart?
Second, in your resume and cover letter you have to make me the subject of your focus. Nearly all the resumes I review are focused on the person. Well, it's the standard convention, right?!? However, occasionally there is one that stands apart because it talks about what you will do for me, what I get from hiring you, what the benefit to me is. Those that make this leap from self-focus to value proposition make the second cut.
Non profits spend a lot of time talking about themselves, the work they do, how important it is, and how good they are at doing it. Yes, that's all fine and well, but so what? At the end of the day there are hundreds of thousands of other companies also performing in a similar fashion and saying the same things. Tell me how your work will improve my life. Tell me how supporting you will benefit me. The value of answering these questions in this way demonstrates you understand your audience and that you can solve their problems or address their needs. Doing so puts you light years ahead of everyone else.
Finally, deliver on the promise. Your resume has been picked and you're scheduled for an interview. An expectation has been set -- by you -- based on the impact and positioning of your resume content. Make sure you meet that expectation, and over deliver against it. Prep, study, learn, absorb. Don't come into the interview cold. Have questions ready, read blogs, search the Web for links, Google the interviewer; whatever you do, don't do nothing!
Non profits who capture the hearts, minds, hands, and pocketbooks of their audiences must also be sure to deliver the experience that target is expecting. Recently I got a group of people together to donate money to a cause that buys livestock for people around the world. The brochure was amazing and I was looking for an equally amazing high once I put in my credit card information and hit the send button. I was less than thrilled with the confirmation screen and follow up since then and am not as jazzed to support them again. Something got lost between the promise, and its delivery.
So, why are you still unemployed? I am sure there are lots of really good reasons. It's a tough economy and a tight job market. I get that. But you need to make sure you're not sabotaging yourself by missing these simple three points.
-- David Kinard, PCM