Resume Problems: When Skills Outreach Job Title

Having skills that outstrip your job title can happen to anyone with any corporate background, and this is especially frequent with people who have a small company employment background. If your experience is in these smaller work environments, over time you will have the opportunity to “wear many hats.” Everyone needs to pitch in more at smaller companies, so there is often greater opportunity to gain a wider skill set, than you might experience in larger more structured environments.
Don’t underestimate yourself

Sometimes with a work history in a smaller company, the greater breadth of experience can be coupled with less depth in that one area of the job’s prime focus; either because of the lack of expert management or lack of exclusive focus in that prime deliverable area.

However, just as often there is greater breadth of experience and the same degree of depth in the core deliverables of the job. The reason? Assuming competent management and enough opportunity to build skills, everything you do in a smaller company has greater visibility, impact and consequently more significant personal ramifications.

The aggregation of skills outside of your job description can be developed by anyone, with any corporate background. However, the relative informality of smaller companies and the prevalent “pitch-in” culture tends to make opportunity more readily available in these work environments. If such an aggregation of skills applies to you, the challenge is to determine what target job title(s), your collection of skills qualify you.

Logical Options

When the time comes to execute a job search, this means that the average professional with seven years or more professional experience can often combine an increasingly diverse set of skills into two or more job titles.

If this reflects your situation, read the prior blog for how to proceed.

In some instances, these additional skills can represent a special sauce that sets you apart from the competition. This special sauce can feature in your resume and in the greater knowledge and wider frame of reference you bring to your performance at job interviews.

Alternatively, you may have developed a diverse set of skills that in other companies are combined into job a title(s) that you might not formally have held. In this case, your job bank research should look for functional matches with other job titles within your general area of expertise. For example a Training Specialist might also have written newsletters and training manuals and have the credentials to apply for jobs as a Technical  Writer or Sales Training Writer.

Resume Issues For Pursuit of Alternate Job Titles

Your first concern in pursuing alternate job titles, when you haven’t formally held that title, is to determine if you have the deliverables (skills/responsibilities/experience) necessary to create a resume powerful enough to compete with people who have held that exact job title.

The whole point of job-targeted resumes is that we all have a wealth of experience and what goes into a particular resume is largely determined by what we think about (our POV) as we look back into our work history. You will always write the most powerful resume when you can get inside your customer’s head.

When you can look into your work history and learn to think like the employer when that employer is thinking about filling this specific target job, you will come up with all the skills and experience you have relevant to this job, and will know if there is enough material with which to make a competitive resume. If the answer is yes you proceed. If the answer is “no” your time hasn’t been wasted because you can use the information gathered to give your prime resume and your interview responses, more of that special sauce.

Another concern, in pursuing alternate job titles, is whether your experience will be able to deliver enough keyword “hits” in a recruiter’s resume database search to get your resume ranking high enough for human review.

To answer these questions of competitiveness and keywords you need to get inside your customers’ collective head and get a real grasp on how they are thinking. You want to understand what skills and experience they think is important, and capture the words and phrases they use to express their priorities. This will deliver insights that will not only empower your resume, but also your interview performance. You can gain these insights by executing a rewarding little research process called Target Job Deconstruction or TJD

With the information you gain from the TJD process, you’ll have the right focus with which to look into your work history – you won’t have to guess, you’ll know  exactly what is important to employers and whether or not you’ll have what it takes to be competitive, both in your resume and in  actual job interviews.

Unconsidered Options

Sometimes your skills and experience exceed your job title to a degree that you may be qualified for a job you have never considered. Karen W., from Ohio, who works in Franchising, interested me in writing this piece because she couldn’t come up with a target job title for all skills and titles she’d amassed with her employer of the last ten years.

Her titles included New Business Project Manager, Convention/Meeting Manager, Technical Writer (newsletter & training manuals), and Training Facilitator. This was a freaky coincidence for me to read, because many moons ago in my very last corporate job, I worked in the training and operations department for one of the world’s largest employment franchisors.

I actually amassed all the skills and had done all of the jobs that Karen had done. Over a couple of years I worked towards, lobbied for and became the first company’s Director of Training; then after successfully championing a series of new business development projects, Director of Training & Business Development. Karen W. has the same skills that I used many moons ago to leverage those promotions, the question becomes: how does she apply them in a job search?

In this instance, Karen or anyone with a parallel sequence of skills that exceed their traditional job title, can

  • Use the different job titles as headlines within a Professional Accomplishments section near the front of her resume to create a special sauce that sets her apart.
  • Focus different versions of her resume for any of the jobs she has held

Diverse work experience can qualify you for a job and a job title that you may never have held or considered. Look at job postings for all other jobs that occur within your general area of expertise, you may discover the skills that exceed your current title are exactly what another company is loking for under a somewhat different title.

Alternatively, you might discover that in other companies, as in Karen’s case, your skill set matches the requirements for a job that represents the next step up on your professional ladder. For Karen W., with all her training experience this might be a Training Manager or Director of Training job. If this reflects your situation, you might create a combination style resume that focuses on that promotional opportunity.

Sometimes your skills may qualify you for jobs that are a step up the promotional ladder. However, even when thoroughly qualified, pursuing such a step during a recession puts your potential up against the credentials of candidates who have the skills and have held the title. In my next blog, we’ll look at trying to land a promotion with your current job search.

Join Martin every week to learn more about writing a killer resume, getting more job interviews and turning job interviews into job offers at his free weekly webcast, Mondays at noon central. Details: http://my.knockemdead.com

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