Somewhere along the line, the internet took the place of humans — at least when it comes to pre-filtering job resumes. I guess it makes sense: a computer can scan hundreds of resumes daily and delete the ones that don’t have the proper keywords or other material that stands out. So what do you do? How do you make your resume stand apart from your peers so you at least make that first cut with potential employers? To be effective and competitive, you need to make sure that your resume is designed to perform in your absence. In the hunt for a new job consider the following tips-of-the-trade to help raise your resume to the next level.
1. Your Own Personal “Who’s Who
You probably don’t realize how many truly great things you’ve accomplished in your life! O-k, so you didn’t get a Nobel Peace Prize. There are other equally impressive milestones in your life. Write them down! Gather and document your history with important facts, figures and events. Collect the relevant highlights from your life, education and career. Hold on to this all-important list. You’ll be referring to it later!
2. Choose a Standard Resume/Outline Template
Why? Because most companies and organizations either use the on-line database application or have similar software for managing the pure text from resumes. Web sites like Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com provide the option to upload a resume in standard format and can automatically identify job titles with associated accomplishments. Sample Professional and Standard Outlines can be found from a variety on resources on-line. I’ve mentioned a few of them a little farther down.
3. One Step Backward, Two Steps Forward
Want to show how you’ve progressed in responsibility, experience and pay? Don’t start with your most recent job. Instead presents your life chronologically with your first job and then move from there. This way, potential employers can see your life progression in near real time.
4. Keep it Short and Simple
Bullet points with short sentences and specific measurements make a far greater impact. And substantiate each accomplishment with HOW it impacted your organization. It’s not enough to say you “increased sales” — you gain more ground by including “how much and for how long and how the organization benefited. The bottom line is that every position can be measured. Identify measurements and provide quantitative details.
5. Select Your Highlights
Select highlight from your personal “Who’s Who”. These may or may not be included in your career bullet points. You can emphasize specific accomplishments from your career, or you can use this opportunity to highlight outside achievements.
6. The Importance of Keywords
Above the bulleted Highlights, create a section of bulleted Keywords. What am I talking about? These are common words associated with your desired profession. For example, a graphic artist might include reference to “PhotoShop” or “Flash”. An administrative assistant might include expertise in “WORD, POWERPOINT, and EXCEL. If you know which skills, tools, degrees or experience are relative and important for your profession, then be sure to list your capabilities. This can make or break a resume because on-line tools and application filters will search your resume for keywords related to specific jobs, just like search engines search for keywords to identify relevance in a web page or web site. The more matches to keywords, the higher your score.
7. Read all about it!
Create a short paragraph to define yourself and use this as the opening of your resume. It should only be four or five sentences long, chock full of keywords and buzzwords. Use action verbs like “Managed”, “Directed”, “Accomplished”, or “Achieved”. These are sentences, not bullet points. If you get beyond the automated applications and filters, this will be the first thing that a person reads.
8. Check Your Name and Contact Information
Make sure that it is easy to find your name, email address and phone number. It would be a shame to have a stellar resume that is a perfect match for the job of your dreams, and the employer can not get in touch with you.
9. Take a Break
Once you have a resume that gives you’re happy with, save it and take a breather. Take a day off, and then take a second look at the resume you created and see if it needs tweaking. Change any keywords, stick in some action adverbs, or look to change the theme of your resume so it applies to different markets. One resume will never fit all markets, so take your “master” and adjust it as you see fit depending on the job you’re seeking.
Want some examples? Check out www.10minuteresume.com or
www.jobstar.org/tools/resume. Another great resource is www.collegegrad.com.
10) Submit Your Resume
Now that you’ve prepared an award-winning (or at least job-winning) resume, upload that puppy on-line and then stand back. Check your email every day and respond quickly to opportunity. Recruiters and employers have a need and incentive to fill positions with qualified individuals in a prompt and efficient manner. They don’t have time to wait if you take your time, so be at the front of the line and demonstrate your aggressive and enthusiastic desire.
….And now a few words about references
References should only be presented when asked. And speaking of which, don’t ever list someone without prior consent. Employers are obligated to call and verify references, and you do not want it to be a surprise.
Creating a winning resume is not a secret. But it does take practice and research. Remember the old saying, “A great resume will get you seen, a poor resume won’t even get your foot in the door!”