I spend a decent amount of time preparing to meet with new clients. I read their existing resume and transfer their information into the template that I use, then read through their cover letter and LinkedIn profile if they have them. I also have a good read of the position description of the job that they want to apply for and start incorporating the key selection criteria into the resume template.
And do you know what? I normally walk into the client meeting not really understanding what it is that the person actually does, despite reading their resume in advance! I'm also usually quite skeptical that they have the skills required to do the job that they intend to apply for.
Then I meet with the person and they talk me through their resume. By the end of the consultation I understand what it is they do and all the wonderful things they have achieved. I see that they do in fact have the skills to meet the key selection criteria.
However, It takes me at least 1.5 hours of talking to get to this point.
Prospective employers are not going to give you 1.5 hours of their time so you can explain to them how you could do the job. You'll be lucky if they give you 30 seconds in the form of a glance at your application. So you need to make sure it clearly explains who you are, what you do and the skills that you have.
So how do you do this?
1. Call yourself something - who are you?
A job title under your name on your CV and Cover Letter can help the person reading it understand what it is you do.
2. Have a clear and concise professional profile
This is where you summarise who you are, your experience and your most important/relevant skills in a couple of sentences. If you are attempting to change careers or sectors, mention that in your profile too. This should be at the top of your CV and also incorporated into the first few paragraphs of your cover letter.
3. Have a list or table of skills
Spell it out for the employer. List your skills in an order that makes sense for the job that you are applying for. Put this on the front page of your CV,. Also talk about your skills throughout your cover letter.
4. List some relevant achievements
Even if you can't come up with achievements for each job, you should be able to come up with a few achievements from across your career. Try to come up with some that demonstrate your skills. These will help explain what it is that you have done across your career.
By incorporating all of the above into your CV and cover letter you are much more likely to end up on the 'interview' pile. It's all about making your job application easy to understand. This can be hard to do without help, so I highly recommend getting a friend to give you feedback.