Are you currently on the hunt, hoping to land that dream job? If so, you unfortunately are not alone! With online job searching, LinkedIn, and the globalization of business, you are likely competing with many other qualified candidates all over the world for every job you apply for. The best way to stand out from the crowd? Your resume!
Your resume, like it or not, is your first impression when you are job searching. You have about 7 seconds or less to make an impact and concisely convey your value, pique the interest of the hiring manager or HR, and get your resume on the “maybe” pile instead of the dreaded round file. Without a branded, targeted resume, you just may not get a call for an interview, no matter how spectacular your qualifications.
Here are 10 tips to help you organize and optimize your professional experience for maximum exposure.
1. Don’t bury the lead!
There are 3 key components to a resume – strategy, format, and content. Format is the bells and whistles, content is the meat of your resume, but strategy is where you really get attention. The order and emphasis you give to different details can significantly impact the way your resume is perceived.
Consider what would be most valuable to the job you’re applying to. For example, if you don’t have the right work experience for the job, you could instead make the primary focus on the skills you do have that would make you a great candidate. You should also structure the individual sections of the resume by ordering the details from most important to least important. This ensures the information you want people to see is more likely to get attention.
2. Use the right keywords for the job.
Did you know that many employers use digital databases to search for candidates they think would be suitable for their open jobs? When doing these searches, they’re relying on specific keywords to bring up your resume. If you don’t have the keywords they’re looking for, they won’t find you and you don’t stand a chance at being considered.
If you want your resume to be seen by the right employers, you will want to be strategic about how you use keywords in your resume. Consider what types of skills or experience an employer might be looking for and add them to your resume if they’re applicable. Not sure what keywords to use? Do some research! Job postings and employer websites are your best asset here.
3. Present proof to back up your skills.
It’s not enough to just say you’re a hard worker or that you’re analytical. There’s no proof behind those words and an employer can’t just take your word for it after reading it on your resume. Quantify and add details to show the scope and help a perspective employee understand what you did, how you added value, and how you could potentially be an asset to them. By taking that extra step to add proof, it shows that you haven’t just inflated your resume to look more impressive and you just might secure that interview.
4. Use white space to your advantage.
To make your resume easy to read, don’t make it one big block of text. You need to break up the text by clearly labeling each section with a bold heading. Think about modifying the space after paragraphs (Format/Paragraph/Spacing in word), use of bullets, and strategic use of font enhancements like bold and italics to help guide the reader and make sure they get the key points.
5. Don’t lie about anything.
This one should be pretty obvious, but many people still choose to lie on their resume, which is never a good idea. Don’t let it happen to you, so be truthful. Don’t try to embellish thinking it’s going to help you get the job. Odds are, you’ll be caught and it’ll only be a disaster when you are.
6. Let content dictate format and not the other way around.
Stuck in the old – even the President has a 1-page resume? Get over it. It’s just not true. I’ve written 1-page resumes for executives and 2-page resumes for high school students. Depending on the field you are in, depth of experience, nature of job/opportunity you are applying for, the amount of information necessary can vary. 2 pages is a good rule of thumb.
7. Don’t list every job you’ve ever held.
Everything has a shelf life. Potential employers really only care about the last 10 years. However, if you have 30 years of job experience and only 10 years of experience on your resume, this can create a disconnect when the hiring manager calls you. My general rule of thumb is no dates in the 80s, and if there is no value to the job (showing what you did during a gap, highlighting career progression, or a company with strong brand equity) consider leaving it off
8. Ditch the obvious.
Look at your resume. Have you included “Available for interview” or “References available upon request” anywhere on it? If you have, get rid of it immediately. While you may think, this is a good thing to have on your resume, it makes you look out of touch and a little dated.
9. Tailor Your Resume to the Job You are Applying For.
Although you probably don’t want to think about tweaking your resume every single time you apply to a job (especially if you’re applying to a lot), it is worth your time.
When you have one standard resume that you send to everyone, there’s nothing special about it. Instead, tailor the resume to the employer. Review their job listing to get an idea of the skills and experience that is most important to them and make them the focal point of your resume. This is something that will vary based on the employer, so you can easily make these changes to appeal directly to them. By doing this, you increase your chances of landing the interview.
10. Hire a professional if you want more help.
If you’re still struggling with your resume, you don’t have to figure it all out alone. A professional resume writer is more than a resume editor. Working with someone who takes their craft seriously can truly elevate your job search to the next level.