Eight Steps To An Attention-Getting Resume
As much as social media plays a significant role in your job search, resumes haven’t gone away. Regardless of industry, they are still the one document recruiters and hiring managers use to make an initial screening decision. If your resume doesn’t resonate, yours will be relegated to the circular file.
1. Prove your value: Employers want to hire people that solve problems. If your resume highlights the problems you’ve solved and the results you’ve achieved; you are more likely to get called for an interview. Use the acronym PARS to help you formulate your accomplishments. What problem did you solve? What actions did you take to solve it? What were the results? What skills and strengths did you call on to achieve these results? Outlining achievements instead of responsibilities gives the hiring manager a clear picture of what you’ve done and builds their confidence that you can do it again.
2. Tailor your approach: There is no such thing as a generic resume. You need to tailor your resume to a particular industry and role by including a summary that highlights your key capabilities. Read job descriptions to understand the key responsibilities and qualifications and give examples in your resume of how you’ve addressed similar issues. The most important part of your resume is the first third of a page. Don’t waste this valuable real estate with an objective statement. Instead, use it to highlight your marketable experience and skills.
3. Use the right language: Every industry has a unique terminology. For-profit companies use the term sales for people who market products. In the non-profit world, people who raise money for an institution are fundraisers. Development in the technology world refers to software development and in non-profits it means fundraising. If you plan to transition from one industry to another, you must translate your skills into the language of your target employer. Using the correct language in your resume is critical. Networking with people in the industry you want to work in is the best way to learn their language.
4. Ditch the objective statement: Using an objective statement at the top of your resume is dated. Employers don’t care that you want a “growth position in marketing company that will utilize my expertise in XYZ”. They want to know what you’ll do for them. All of the content on your resume should focus on your potential value to your target employers. Objective statements waste valuable space and don’t capture attention.
5. Make it easy for the reader: The average amount of time a recruiter spends reading a resume is 15 seconds. Given this reality, it’s up to you to make it easy for the reader to assess if you are a fit as quickly as possible. Do this by using a brief summary that clearly explains your expertise and gives a few examples to prove your point. The more time someone has to comb through the chronology, the less likely they are to keep reading.
6. Keep it short: No one has the time or interest to read a six or eight-page resume. Two pages are maximum. If you can’t say what you need to in two pages, your value proposition is not clear, and you’ll lose the attention and interest of the hiring manager. The only exception to the two-page rule is for scientists and academics who can have additional pages to highlight their patents and publications.
7. Include keywords: When you apply to an online posting, especially in large organizations, your resume will put into a database and screened by an Applicant Tracking System. An ATS is a software-based system that scans and screens resumes for keywords contained in a job description. The goal is to eliminate applicants who don’t possess the necessary skills or experience to do the job. Human eyes won’t review your resume unless it closely matches the skills listed for the posted position. Tailoring your resume to the job you’re applying for by including keywords will increase the possibility of making it to an interview.
8. Don’t rely on cover letters: Unless you’re applying for a job in journalism or the role relies heavily on writing, your cover letter will likely not be read. Most job seekers assume that their cover letter is where they should tailor their approach to a particular role. In fact, many recruiters will tell you that they will read an applicant’s resume before they read the cover letter. If the resume peaks their interest, they will often read the accompanying letter afterward.
If you haven’t been getting call backs from applications you’ve submitted, you might want to take a closer look at the relevancy of your resume. Remember, success in the job market is about showing an employer how you meet their needs. The focus should be on the company or organization you’re interested in, not about what you want or need. As important as a resume is for job seekers, remember that people with a strong web presence are the ones who are noticed and chosen over those who have little or no presence online.