When managers launch the selection process and start searching through stacks of resumes to find the perfect candidate, they don’t search for basic aptitudes and skill sets alone. A generation ago, a new grad with all the right coursework and a straight-A report card may have found a glowing welcome in any workplace. Back then, just showing up and following instructions could open countless doors for young ambitious job seekers.
But hiring managers are getting smarter, and hiring strategies are growing more sophisticated as time goes by. Modern managers are looking for candidates who can do the work, but they also want their employees to adapt to the existing culture in the workplace so they’re more likely to make strong personal connections, thrive, invest in the organization, and stay. As it happens, resumes can help managers find candidates that are a cultural match, not just a skills match.
So how can you use your resume to show that you’re a match for a given workplace? There’s no easy answer to this question, but you can start with a little bit of research and a little bit of soul searching.
First, do some legwork before you draft even one word of your resume and cover letter. For now, don’t worry about what you’re looking for or what you have to offer. Focus on what the company wants. Visit the website, study the product or service this organization provides, think about how this product or service fits into the larger marketplace and cultural landscape, and look for keywords and phrases that the company uses to describe its own culture. Is this workplace fun? Serious? Traditional? Innovative? If this company were a person, what would this person love and care about more than anything else in the world? What’s the most serious problem this company faces?
Don’t be afraid to make guesses and assumptions. Culture is a subjective thing that can be hard to describe. So read between the lines of every piece of information you have to work with, including the company website, its social media updates, and its job post.
Then turn the examination on yourself. If this company faces a problem or a need, how can someone with your unique personal attributes meet this need? What combination of qualities can you offer that nobody else can?
And most important, how can you prove these claims? If this workplace is fun, and you’re fun, how can you back up this claim in concrete terms? What fun and innovative projects have you spearheaded in the past? Make sure your written language, tone, and listed accomplishments back up your cultural claims. Make it easy for your readers to draw the lines between what you say, how you say it, and who you are.
Your resume isn’t just a simple record of your past accomplishments; it’s also a personal statement that explains your personality and provides a sense of what it’s like to work beside you every day. Make sure your cultural qualifications shine just as brightly as your other credentials. Turn to LiveCareer for resume building and editing tools that can help you make your case.