Looking for a job in D.C.? Use a resume service to gain the advantage
If you’re new to Washington and searching for a job, or just transitioning to another career, the process can be daunting.
The good news is there are plenty of jobs in the D.C. area, but the bad news is there are also plenty of qualified candidates eager to accept them.
That’s where the right resume service can set you apart.
“The level of competition for jobs in D.C. is particularly high,” says Tracy Wade of the highly rated Hire Power, who is based in Walkersville, Maryland. “There are easily 100 other candidates for the job you want.”
Changing job-search strategy
Using a resume service, such as Hire Power, isn’t just for the first-time job-seeker. For those who have been in the same position a decade or longer, technology has changed the hiring game.
“Your approach today has to be different from 10 years ago,” Wade says. “People who are having to start all over again often are just lost. It’s overwhelming.”
For instance, more companies who post jobs, especially in the D.C. area, let computers handle the initial round of cuts. Your resume is scanned for keywords that need to be strategically placed.
“If you don’t have the right resume, you’ll never make it past this first step,” Wade says.
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Issues happening nationwide are also complicating a D.C. job search.
“Companies once measured their success by the number of employees they had,” Wade says. “That’s not the case anymore.”
Success today is often measured by getting more work out of the employees you currently have, either by expanding their duties or filling in the gaps with technological advances. “This is happening at all job levels,” Wade says.
The old saying that a government job is the most secure no longer holds true.
“In today’s market in D.C., people also don’t feel as stable in their jobs,” Wade says. “Congress is now always looking for ways to cut back, and that makes people nervous.”
The District is unique in that the federal government is a major employer, and many jobs on Capitol Hill are tied to lawmakers whose terms may last only two years. Plus, last year's government shutdown is still fresh in many Washingtonians’ minds.
The federal government also has policies to follow that aren’t always clear to a potential candidate viewing a job posting online.
First, Wade says, federal hiring authorities must review internal candidates. Then, they often look to see if the position can be eliminated. Finally, they will evaluate whether job duties can be divided among existing employees. “It can get complicated,” Wade says.
Beyond the resume
Resume services specialize in making the complicated job-search process less so.
The basic service at Hire Power includes a cover letter, resume and LinkedIn profile. The cost ranges from $300 to $450.
But Hire Power can go beyond just the job-search basics. “We talk to our clients to see where they are in their job search,” Wade says. “Sometimes, they are getting an interview but not hearing back after that.”
That’s a sign their job interview skills need refreshing, not just their resume. “It’s key to assess where a person is, and find where they need help,” Wade says. “Sometimes it’s the resume, other times it’s the interview. Each client is unique.”
An online presence also is essential today because Wade says some employers choose not to advertise positions. Instead, they seek people with the right experience by searching on the web, especially LinkedIn profiles. LinkedIn allows candidates to post their resume and profile, and to connect their network of current, past and potential coworkers, employers and professional contacts.
Wade likes to share one statistic with his clients to show the importance of the right resume and online presence. “An employer only looks at a resume for an average of 45 seconds,” he says. “That’s all the time you have to stand out.”