Going to the Lowest Bidder

Things sure change quickly in the job market. Just a few short years ago, employers were in bidding wars for employees. A job seeker could play one employer’s offer against another employer’s offer and go to the highest bidder. An employee could quit a job in the morning and have a new job with a competing company that same afternoon making thirty percent more. Employers were offering cars, signing bonuses, stock options, and other incentives just to get top employees (or in some cases, mediocre employees).

No more. Now it seems like it’s a matter of whom can the employer get for the least amount of money. Relocation packages are scarcer and there’s not a Porsche waiting for new signees. It is now a buyer’s market and job seekers who haven’t changed jobs since ‘01 are surprised at how hard they have to “sell” their qualifications and experience to potential employers. I had a client today comment, “I am sick and tired of being asked what is the least I will take in salary!” Does that mean job seekers have to take what they can get? No, it just means they have to try harder to sell themselves.

The brochure of that sales initiative is the resume. The job of the resume is to win the interview. If you don’t win the employer’s interest with the resume, you won’t get the interview. Get the interview and you at least have a chance at winning the job. No interview – no job.

The resume should also support the salary level of the job candidate. An executive job seeker who sends out a very poor resume will get a few calls from recruiters (because that is the job of the recruiter) but will not be seriously considered. It’s as if the job seeker claimed to be a CEO of a Fortune 1000 company but showed up at the interview in a blue leisure suit. The blue leisure suit eclipsed the experience. All the employer can think of is that hideous suit. The same goes for the resume. The job seeker might have great experience but if it isn’t presented in a fashion that supports the salary level, it’s useless.

The opposite is true, too. I’ve seen job seekers who were making $50,000 a year use a fantastic resume that truly showcased their experience win jobs making $80,000 a year simply because the resume opened the door and allowed them to really strut their stuff to the employer. A great resume can make that much difference. I’ve also seen candidates send in a resume for one position, only to be called about a position that is higher on the totem pole and has greater scope all due to the power of the impression given by the resume.

If you aren’t getting offers for the salary level you would like to make, you should look first at your resume. If you are coming across on paper as cheap and low-cost, that is the type of interest that will be shown to you. To make a giant step up the ladder, you have to look like you already belong at the top by having a killer resume representing you in the job search.

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