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Casting Your Resume

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Throughout my childhood and into my adult life, fishing has always been an integral part of my summers. For nearly 60 years, my family has packed up the car and made the long journey to a small camp in Sheenboro, Quebec, just across the Ottawa River from Pembroke, Ontario. There, we would spend a couple weeks “off the grid” fishing for smallmouth bass and northern pike while soaking in the waning days of Canada’s brief summer. I’ve always found fishing to be equal parts challenging, invigorating, and calming. For this reason, I recently took the plunge and decided to try my hand at fly fishing.

Fly fishing, for those who don’t know, is a style of fishing using seemingly weightless “flies” for lures. By building up speed and momentum in the fly line, the fisherman is ultimately able to cast and delicately present the fly to the fish. Compared to the more commonly practiced spinning or baitcasting techniques, fly fishing is an art form that requires finesse, patience, and practice. Though rewarding when done correctly, it can be incredibly difficult and frustrating. Fly fishing is the pursuit of perfection, and many anglers turn to the sport looking for a new challenge and hoping to acquire new knowledge and skills.

You, too, may be looking for new opportunities to learn and grow. Though I’m no longer talking about fishing, there are distinct parallels between putting yourself out on the job market and accurately casting your line into the water. You can employ the classic “spray and pray” approach by blitzing your resume around various job boards in search of any new opportunity, or you can be patient, study the market, tailor your resume to your skills and interests, do your research, work with a recruiting professional, and ultimately target the right opportunity. In fly fishing, you want to make every cast count, and applying to jobs shouldn’t be any different. Here are a few helpful tips if you’re considering entering or re-entering the job market:

First, identify why you are dissatisfied with your current position. Be honest with yourself. Are you looking for a new challenge? Are you looking for more exposure in certain areas? Are you hoping to utilize or acquire certain skills? Can you obtain any of these goals in your current role? Even if you’re just looking for an easier commute or a bump in salary, don’t forget to consider these other points. Otherwise, you could find yourself in the same position a year or so down the road.

Next, make sure your resume accurately reflects your experience and impact throughout your career. Introduce metrics and numbers wherever you can and make your resume as specific and unique to you as possible. Too often, resumes are full of the same generic platitudes, so really think about what you’ve done in your current position. What kinds of interesting projects have you supported? What were the results? If you made a quantifiable difference, your resume is your chance to brag.

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Finally, talk with people about your search. Whether it is with one of our recruiters here at JustinBradley or other colleagues in your network, talk through your search criteria and be open minded. Being diligent and listening is the best way to gain some perspective on what your ideal role, organization, or work environment might be moving forward.

Like fly fishing, starting your job search can be a discouraging and humbling process. Good things shouldn’t come easily, so take the time to study the waters, do your due diligence, update your resume and plan your approach, and make your casts accurately and purposefully. It may take a little longer, but it is likely to be more rewarding when you land the big one!


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