I confirmed my suspicions with the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S. – January is the biggest month of role turnover in the U.S., so here are a few key tips (And I have notes for employers at the end):

Unusual resume and interview tips

1) Don’t put the ‘Results achieved’ in your resume if you can’t explain exactly how you achieved them, or if that process is no longer relevant.

I was reminded of this in speaking with a former colleague just yesterday. We have both had long careers and he was reviewing all his achievements for the past few decades and realized he wouldn’t be able to explain the process for several! If you can’t replicate it today, then it isn’t relevant to your interview process. This made me reflect on the fact that an interaction could look also like this:

Candidate: “In 1998 I successfully outbounded and secured 8 enterprise account logos to exceed quota by 25%.”

Employer: “How?”

Candidate: “Researched the trade journals, joined a trade group to meet influencers and wrote an outstanding introduction letter with a POV with a technique that got me past their assistant gatekeeper.”

Employer: ” A letter you say? Did you fax that or send by pigeon?”If the process is different today than when you did it, don’t highlight it as an achievement – Pick an achievement that is relevant and replicable in the role you are seeking to attain.

2) If you have the skills/competencies but not all their requirements as listed, apply anyway

You’ll see in my note to employers below that many populations of people don’t put themselves forward when they should. Employers are hiring for capability, not resumes. I think a great example of this is Max Altschuler – Max had never led a sales team before he launched his first book: ‘Hacking Sales: The Playbook for Building a High-Velocity Sales Machine’ (which he wrote on holiday with only 1 formal AE role to his name as prior experience). Max is the perfect example of someone who doesn’t wait for permission – He just takes his shot.I will remind you of what you are losing by applying and not getting it – Nothing. In fact, it may broaden your network, get access to other roles, and at the least, gives you another chance to practice your interviewing skills and get comfortable.

When asking for referrals, help the referrer look good and give them confidence at the same time – I see too many of these:

Hi Matt, I see you know “X”, the hiring manager at “CoolCo” – I really want the “CoolJob”. Could you intro me please?

Here is a better version: “Matt, I see you know X at CoolCo. I feel that you would be an incredible referrer here because you have seen me [Relevant thing for the role]. I understand that they are looking [To do what] [Hire for what] and my [experience/ability] in [XYZ] means that I feel I am a great fit for the role. Would you be comfortable to make an intro?]

This gives your referrer a much greater level of confidence in expending the social capital. It ALSO allows them to write back and say, “You know, I feel that this role is not a fit to your experience in XYZ for [reasons] so I am sorry, but I don’t think that this is the best introduction I can make. Do let me know if there are others that you think align with the role – Always happy to help where appropriate.]

For employers

Screening out some of the best

Your job is to secure the people who will make the greatest impact in the role. The key to doing this starts with ensuring that you get visibility of the greatest number of qualified people (Perhaps we can create a new acronym: TQCP – Total Qualified Candidate Pool). If you had access to the TQCP, then I am sure you will be spoiled for choice – When was the last time that happened?

Herein lies the trap – What is “qualified”? Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg would get screened out by many Applicant Tracking Systems due to not matching on the ‘Degree required’ criteria. I studied in the early 90’s – The relevance of a marketing degree from that era is next to zero (We didn’t have internet in mainstream usage then!).

Lori Richardson‘s fantastic book, ‘She sells’ highlights the fact that women in particular are less likely to apply for a role if they don’t check all the ‘requirements’ boxes. There are two remedies here:

1) Only put requirements in that truly are requirements. The first principle should be that you are searching for skills/competency/behaviors/values. You need to decide what background/experience definitively confirms these (most do not, so don’t ask for them).

2) Put a bold invitation at the top of the ‘Required background/skills’ section that says something like:

At this point, we hope you’re feeling excited about this role. Even if you don’t feel that you meet every single requirement, we still encourage you to apply.

We’re eager to meet people that believe in our mission and can contribute to our team in a variety of ways – not just candidates who check all the boxes.”