Break out the pens, highlighters, and sticky notes and start examining the samples that appear throughout this book. Analyze them like the knowledgeable and focused job seeker you are. Instead of thinking critically, identify the qualities you like.
Prospective employers look for certain things as they review resumes. (You can read some of their comments in Chapter 10.) The first thing employers and recruiters do when they want to fill a position is to list the qualifications the job requires. They list these traits in order of priority, according to which are essential, which are optimal, and which are merely desirable (or optional).
Once the employer decides on the qualities he or she is looking for — such as capabilities, areas of expertise, character qualities, employment history, and educational background — candidates are encouraged to apply, screened, and, ultimately, interviewed and selected. Sometimes job descriptions and postings include detailed qualification criteria. More often, however, these preferences are expressed vaguely in broad descriptions.
It is helpful to understand the employer's perspective, and it is a good idea to review other resumes. Just remember, this is your resume. You, and not anyone else, are responsible for success.
No matter how inaccurately they express their defined criteria, employers are always aware of them. Employers review resumes and cover letters, conduct interviews, and make their offers with those qualification criteria clearly in mind. In particular, they use written profiles of their desired qualifications for keyword scanning (described in Chapter 5) and behavioral interviews (Chapter 8).
While the job seeker might wish otherwise, employers almost never share detailed qualification criteria, nor do they thoroughly analyze the resumes they receive. The employer is not responsible for digging through a mass of poorly organized, badly written resumes to find the perfect job candidate. As the job seeker, you are responsible for conveying your goals, objectives, and a clear sense of job purpose. You must create a powerful resume that mirrors your qualifications and follow that up with an interview that impresses the employers with your capability to perform the job.