CSAR: In the Military and In Your Job Search

CSARWhen civilians or military personnel are imperiled in a combat zone a joint task force is formed to initiate a CSAR mission (combat search and rescue) to safely bring them home.

Similarly, in organizing a resume, job seekers should perform a CSAR exercise to identify Challenges, Situations Actions and Results, which cumulatively will be used to validate their intrinsic value and worth to a new employer.

Before I discuss the CSAR exercise in resume writing I would like to explain why I began with the military CSAR.

I did it to make 2 specific points! I want you to know the most effective way to conduct a job search is with a combat mentality and military precision in its planning and execution. I also want to accentuate for you the need for a sense of urgency in a job search if you intend to secure the ideal job opportunity in a short period of time.

If this helps, consider yourself a Colonel or Captain planning a CSAR mission to rescue a job seeker who needs to be liberated from his or her current predicament. Plan your strategy and actions accordingly knowing this may be a ‘Life or Death’ situation. This may be overly dramatic, but in some cases not so farfetched either in financial terms and/or in terms of a job seeker’s mental health and overall well-being.

As for the CSAR exercise in a job search it is not only important, it is critical to your success.

Consider this. For [almost] every available job, employers can find a multitude of qualified candidates to interview. The process [in almost all cases] begins with the submittal of a résumé directly to the company, to a recruiter, to a friend or business associate who will pass it along in his/her pipeline for you, or as a last resort it is submitted to a job board.

For arguments sake, let’s assume 25 résumés are submitted for every job. What you need to understand is that out of the 25 candidates the vast majority had or has the same responsibilities – or ones that are very similar – in their background. Most likely, they also have similar academic credentials, and their technical and business skills are not diverse enough to make more than perhaps 1 or 2 of these candidates a clear frontrunner.

Now that we know what makes these candidates alike, let’s explore what makes each one special and unique. Just as it is logical to assume the top candidates for a position share much in common, it is just as logical to assume no two candidates will share the exact same accomplishments. And it is one’s Accomplishments and Achievements,or as I call them Hero Stories, that make each job seeker special and unique. Hence it is imperative for job seekers to identify and convey them in the best light on their résumé and in a job interview.

It’s often unavoidable to include duties, responsibilities and the day to day minutia of prior jobs in a résumé. Yet, it is inexcusable if this information is all a résumé is about.

This is where a CSAR exercise comes into play.

Job seekers must identify Challenges and Situations faced in a current or prior position and various roles they have held that can realistically resurface in the job that is being applied for.  A good way to do this is to look at written job descriptions and glean what might be expected in this new role. Then they must introspectively look back for similar challenges and situations they faced in the past and think these out thoroughly and write them down in great detail. Then they must write down direct and indirect Actions they took or initiated in each instance and finally qualify and quantify the Results of their actions in equally great detail.

The tricky part is pulling them all together to write meaningful accomplishment bullet points and knowing where to strategically place them in the document for maximum visibility and impact. This is a talent that some job seekers and résumé writers have and that others do not.

This exercise should be done thoroughly, meticulously and even to excess. Why to excess? Because this is how a  résumé is customized for specific jobs. Move, delete or insert new accomplishments based on the ideal candidate profile in order to showcase your ability to meet that position’s most critical current hiring needs; and by having a stockpile of ‘Hero Stories’ you can easily customize a well written résumé to fit any job in less than 15 minutes.

Another benefit of this exercise is that these are all talking points in an interview that can help set you apart and let the interviewer know you’re up to the challenge and have the requisite experience and track record to handle these same tough situations as part of your new job. Review the exercise before an interview and you’ll ace it!

As always I am available to review US resumes if you email it to perry@perrynewman.com

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