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Employers look for one word in your resume...

Unemployment solutions start before the job does. Meeting the right people through networking and interviews starts the relationship that usually is the key step toward getting a job or a contract. Why? It's a people thing!

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"Employers are not interested in your personal objectives for your life and your career," says Sander Marcus.

Employers and HR interviewers are usually harried -- especially today when they are receiving double or triple the number of resumes for each position they try to fill.

And that's frustrating for them as well as the applicant. And it's for very similar reasons. They both want a good match, and they want it NOW.

Matching the right people to work on any team takes patience, creativity and vision. Applicants need to bring this to the process as well as the employer. But how?

Let's look at how small business people hire -- both contractors and employees.

The Small Business Employer's Interview Perspective

First, look at things from from their perspective.

They probably have limited experience hiring someone. Often a small business person is making their FIRST hire! Or maybe they only hire one person per year. This process is as scary for them as for the applicants. They bet their success and sometimes, their business survival, on each decision they make.

Second, they just want to get the EXACT job done. That's it. They don't have time or energy to look at long term possibilities. What can you DELIVER TODAY?

What skills do you have? Technical skills matter. Productivity matters. And people skills are essential in a small office and when every sale or project is critical to the survival of the company. You've got to play well, and productively on a team.

That PEOPLE Thing

Chemistry matters. It's genetic. Some animals get along, others don't. Don't take it personally. Job applicants need to trust themselves -- and just give the interview their best and be "themselves" because it's easier to fire the wrong person and try again. Believe me, you don't want the wrong job, even if you feel desperate. Then you just have to do this all over again!

Employers aren't perfect. And some are much better than others. Do yourself a favor and check out their reputation before you go interview with any company. If you don't like what you see on day one - you certainly won't like it on day 99!

"Be Yourself!"

Huh? What does that really mean -- be yourself?

We see other people better than we see ourselves. Here are a few elements of "who you are" that matter on the job:

  • Are you a gregarious networker or an intense task-oriented producer? Or someone else?
  • What are your key attitudes and motivations that will make you work into the night to excel at a key project?
  • What has thrilled you immensely about a recent project -- the people you worked with, the task itself, or the impact it made on the customer? Or something else?
  • What questions do you actually HEAR the interviewer asking? Is it "Who do you know?" or "What do you deliver?" or "How fast do you learn and then produce results?" or "What results do you know how to"

The Bottom Line for Small Employers

You might be looking for a comfortable, well-paying "home" to settle into, but entrepreneurs don't have that luxury. They have to motivate their team to earn every dollar that comes through the door - and that's not easy month after month. They need to know you will produce results in the job they hire you for.

And then, if you prove yourself in that position, you can probably "re-interview" for a new project, and you'll have to prove your ability to deliver all over again. Things are just that tight, that well-engineered for real, measurable results (as in "dollars!").

Yep, corporate jobs are much easier. And they probably pay better. But why are you looking for a job in a small company?

Be clear on that.

And appreciate the fact that the small business people of this country are the innovators, they give new, young, crossover people opportunities they can't get in big corporations. And you can grow into bigger challenges faster in a small company than you can usually accomplish in a big pond with lots of hungry competitors.

I love some of the observations made by a professional resume writer, Sander Marcus, Ph.D., who is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Certified Professional Resume Writer in Chicago (,

Problems > Solutions... Yep!

"They are only interested in how you can help their company solve its problems and achieve its goals—that’s why they hire. But they are totally unaware of your unique strengths and value that you can potentially bring to the organization. That’s because in most resumes, the person’s unique strengths and potential value are buried somewhere in the middle of the resume and not written for a skimmer/reader."

His list of tips includes:

  • Resume readers are smart and skeptical
  • Most resume readers are in a bad mood!
  • They are unimpressed with trends... they've seen it before and don't care -- they just want the right skills and drive.
  • They don't like details...some look for job titles and degrees first.
  • They want to know your strengths, and what you will deliver, not your lofty goals.

Is that enough to help you shape an interview? Or a phone call? Or networking in key industry networking groups?

If it isn't enough of a clue that small business employers are all about productivity and delivering their "trademark services" ... you're in the wrong office.

"You’ve got to write your resume so that employers see their priorities and yours instantly. Make sure to keep that in mind, and you’ll have a much better chance of having your resume taken seriously," concludes Marcus.

Sander Marcus, Ph.D., is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Certified Professional Resume Writer in Chicago. He has over 3 decades of experience in providing career counseling, aptitude testing, job search coaching, and resume writing to tens of thousands of individuals. He is the co-author of 2 books on academic underachievement, various tests, and numerous articles. He can be contacted at,

Edited by Carolyn Allen
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