Is your resume getting you the results you want? I’ve worked with countless clients over the years that have come to me for help after months of fruitless job hunting on their own. Often, one of their greatest barriers is a resume that is underpowered. Not compelling. Boring. Meh.
If you suspect that your resume may not be as effective as it could be, it’s possible you’ve overlooked one of these key ways to put more power into your resume:
1. Focus On Your Brand
Does your resume jump right in to your job history, or lead off with an “Objective” statement? Do you start off with a summary statement filled with over-used descriptors like “great communicator” or “team player”? If so, you’re wasting the valuable real estate at the top of your resume.
Spend some time thinking about what unique skills and attributes you bring to the position you’re looking for… what truly sets you apart from the other applicants for the job. Then capture those abilities in a 1-3 sentence, tightly-written “branding statement” that helps employers see why you’d be a great fit within their organization. Not sure how to write a branding statement? Check out the sample resumes on my website for ideas.
2. Lead With Keyword-Rich Accomplishments
Now that you have gotten a prospective employer’s attention with your compelling branding statement, take full advantage of this opportunity by summarizing some of your most impressive accomplishments.
For example, a relevant accomplishment for an HR Executive might be: “Slashed staffing costs 25% at X Company by streamlining training program.” Don’t bury that in the bowels of your resume! Hook your reader in to reading further by having your most notable successes front and center in your document.
3. Choose Your Words Carefully
Using keywords that appear in the job posting makes the above statements even more effective. One of the best ways to put more power into your resume is by sprinkling terminology important to the position liberally throughout the entire text of your resume, from your branding statement to the responsibilities and accomplishments you list for every single job.
Since most companies now use applicant tracking software to screen applicants—using keywords like you might use search terms when you look up something on the Internet—the more often a relevant keyword shows up in your documents, the higher your resume will rank in their screening process. One caveat, though: these keywords need to make sense in context, so don’t just put keywords in your resume in an attempt to game the system.
4. Use SMART Stories
If you only included your job responsibilities for each position you’ve held, you’d be wasting a great opportunity to demonstrate your value. If you really are great at your job, prove it! For every position you list on your resume, but especially the most recent ones, include SMART stories, or Situations with Metrics, Actions, Results, and Tie-in. In other words, how did you make a difference to the company and what was the result?
5. Reference Metrics
Okay, I know that Metrics are included in the SMART stories I’ve already encouraged you to write. But I’m going to re-emphasize it here, because including them is critical to capturing an employer’s attention. So critical that whenever I work with a resume client, I spend a significant amount of time questioning them about ways they’ve made a difference to the companies they’ve worked for, and asking them to quantify that difference. Why? Numbers are impressive.
Not convinced that it’s worth your time to dig up those figures? Consider these two examples: “Reduced costs annually by initiating data storage policy change.” “Reduced costs $1.2 million annually by initiating data storage policy change.” Which one do you find more impressive?
6. Emphasize Your “Extras.”
Have you taken any professional development courses or specialized training that relate to your career goals? Do you volunteer regularly for organizations that a prospective employer might be interested in, either because of your role or how the organization fits in with the hiring company’s goals or values? Do you serve on any community boards or belong to any professional associations? These things can really set you apart, showing you go above and beyond, so be sure and list them after your work experience section.
7. Modernize Your Formatting
Let’s face it: we live in a world where appearances matter, and that even goes for resumes and cover letters. Professionally-designed resumes add space between lines of text, use larger font sizes for the candidate’s name and section titles, incorporate colored text for headings or shaded text boxes (where appropriate), and use bold and/or italic fonts to call attention to important text. To put your best foot forward, you’ll want to do the same.
8. Include Links
If you have a website, LinkedIn profile, Google+ account, or published articles online… list those links. (Provided they present you in a professional and favorable light, of course!)
Professional resume writers rely on these strategies to produce results for their clients, so I’m confident that if you incorporate one or more of them (but preferably all of them!), they’ll boost your resume’s effectiveness, too.
This post was originally published on an earlier date.
About the author
Kristin S. Johnson is a TORI award-winning, 6-times certified resume writer, job search coach, and social media consultant. Her approach is cutting-edge, creative, and kind. As owner of Profession Direction, LLC, she works with professionals and aspiring executives across the country.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here.
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