One of the things I was most surprised by when I got into the jobs business over a decade ago was the prevalence and practice of age discrimination in hiring right here in the USA. Oh, sure... we're not like some overseas markets where job ads explicitly demand youth, or a particular gender, or beauty(!), in the applicant, but there it is...
Linda West had no intention of reshaping her resume and her interview style everytime she applied for a job. She didn’t have a lot of time.
West was a marketing manager at a financial firm in New York, which occupied most of her time. Working in finance also gave her the sinking feeling that instability of the market left her with little time to find a new job.
She didn’t have time to waste amending her resume for every job application; she couldn’t prepare a different set of lines and anecdotes for every job interview, and she couldn’t waste her time chasing after jobs she wasn’t immediately qualified to hold or willing to accept. West needed to conduct a focused, targeted job search.
She approached it like a salesperson. She qualified job leads before she applied. She accepted interviews only when she knew her performance could close the deal and chose to chase only the most likely winners.
She had also decided on a more-focused career — digital marketing – instead of the all-purpose position she had held.
“When you are in the interview process, it’s easier to present yourself and pitch yourself when you know you fit the job very well,” West said. “I researched all the jobs I applied for. Because I knew what I wanted, I was able to go in and be honest about what I wanted, and sell my skill set.
"I only applied to companies where I knew my skills were relevant,” she said. “Basically, I pre-matched myself with the companies I interviewed for.”
West knew what she wanted. In her previous position, where she headed up a team of five marketing professionals, she needed to be a generalist. In this new position, she decided to focus on a speciality, digital media, which allowed her to tailor her resume and target specific job listings.
She looked for rich, descriptive job listings that spelled out exactly what was required. “To me, (undescriptive job listings) indicated that the job was not well defined, and maybe they weren’t sure what they wanted,” she said. “I looked for descriptive listings, anything that listed digital media and specific channels, like social media, and developing rich media.”
West, a MktgLadder member, applied to 28 jobs, interviewed at four companies and was offered a job as marketing manager for digital media at a large New York law firm, the exact job opprtunity she sought, four weeks after she started her job search.
“The legal industry is much more stable than the financial industry,” West said. “I am working exclusively on marketing of digital and electronic projects in a much larger company than in my previous job. It allows me to specialize in a way I couldn’t before.”