What is it about resume writing that sets people's knees to knocking, anxiously sweating? In a competitive job market, the anxiety only deepens. Is everything worded correctly? Am I remembering every detail? I know I've missed a simple spelling error. Wait--I spelled my name wrong?! Related: Improve Your Resume Results With These 5 P's Of Resume Writing The truth is, before the resume ever reaches the hiring manager's desk, prospective employees are first in competition with their own way of thinking. Getting past fears and insecurities is the groundwork that must be laid. Settling the debate in your own mind that you've presented yourself at your very best is a starting point toward presenting a captivating, confident option to employers and generating interviews that result in dream-job offers. So the question is: how do you get to that point? How do you get to the point where you are confident that your resume is effective in helping you stand out from the crowd? After all, you don't want to 'almost' be the best choice: you want to be THE person who can meet the challenges, solve the problems, and excel at the offered job. Let's take a fresh look at your resume, to look through the lens of some of the best strategies and solutions and determine what can be done to transform your resume from flat and boring to fully the best.
Summarizing who you are, major accomplishments you've achieved, and skills & experience you have to offer into one document is no easy task. You may spend hours to perfect the resume to impress employers, but hiring managers and recruiters may only spend a mere few seconds on it. As unbalanced as it may seem between the job seeker and the hiring manager's/recruiter's time with the resume, it is nonetheless an important document to perfect. The resume is what will help pave the way to your next career opportunity.
1. Length.Try to keep the resume to 1-2 pages. Certainly, the more experience you have, the more there is to include and executive resumes can run to 3 pages. Make sure what you have warrants its length. Many employers today rely on Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to help filter out resumes of the best candidates for the job. While a long resume may give you more room to make it keyword-rich, no hiring manager looks forward to reviewing a resume that runs on and on. There needs to be a balance, for more tips read: “3 Tips To Get Your Resume In The 'Yes' Pile."
2. Avoid getting creative with graphics.The resume is not the place to get creative with graphics. It needs to have structure in terms of content to get past the ATS. Simple things like tables or logos can break the ATS' parsing mechanism. Clearly label headings, stick with standard fonts and don't go any smaller than 11 point size font if you want your information read when in the hands of a human reviewer. For more tips on formatting the resume for the ATS, read: “5 Resume Formatting Rules For The ATS."
3. Customize.When the hiring manager reviews your resume, it should be read as though it was written specifically for that employer and job. Work to include similar language and the requirements as posted in the job posting to your resume. Address the specific needs in terms of what it is that you have to offer. Highlight the specific skills and experience you have that the employer is looking for.
4. Prioritize.Lead with relevant information first. That means your name and contact information, followed by an Executive Summary, Experience, Skills and Education. Most employers will primarily focus on the Executive Summary, your current and previous job, the company, dates of employment, education and then skim for relevant keywords to inform them if you're a keeper. Each section of the resume should also be written with prioritization to information. Lead with what's more important to the employer, not necessary what you're personally most proud of.
5. Ask yourself if it's relevant.It's easy to pack the resume with information - it's much harder to whittle it down to what's important. When you fail to ask yourself if the information is relevant, you end up with a resume that runs pages long. A resume with too much information also dilutes the strong message you want to leave with the employer. Focus on what's relevant and stick to presenting information that shows how you can meet the employer's exact needs.
6. Review. Review. Review.You need to become an editor when writing your own resume. Lack of attention to spelling and failure to add punch to your content means your resume will get dismissed. If editing is not where you shine, get help! A resume filled with misspellings screams you're unprofessional. A resume that is dull to read means it's time for the hiring manager to move on to the next resume. Clearly, resume writing is no easy task, but with the knowledge of the strategies above it'll help guide you in the right direction. This post was originally published on an earlier date.
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About the authorDon Goodman's firm was rated as the #1 Resume Writing Service in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Don is a triple-certified, nationally recognized Expert Resume Writer, Career Management Coach and Job Search Strategist who has helped thousands of people secure their next job. Check out his Resume Writing Service. Get a Free Resume Evaluation or call him at 800.909.0109 for more information. Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert.
There is major trouble ensuing in the job market! The problem? No, it is not the lack of jobs, the competition, or the unpredictability of the jobs you can find! Oh no, the issue I'd like to bring to your attention is the haste in which job seekers approach resume writing. They are sabotaging their job search and creating conflict in their career plans! Whatever you think resume writing is, it is not a race! In order to overcome the challenges I mentioned above, you must mesmerize your new employer and hold their attention long enough to brew in them the desire to call you. So, before you put pen to paper, contemplate the following:
Self-Reflection Before Resume Writing
- What do I want in a job?
- How would I describe my ideal job?
- What has my career progression (or lack of) been like?
- What have I learned from my experiences?
- Who am I at work and where/how do I best succeed?
- What are my marketable skill sets?
- Why are these skills marketable?
- To which companies would I be an asset and why?
- What do I need to sidestep?