Give Your Resume A Facelift: Make It Standout And Attract Recruiters & Hiring Managers
Resumes are still the most common way that potential employers gauge and track whether an applicant should be brought into and proceed through the screening process for a new job. It’s also the main reference hiring managers use to recall who’ve they’ve interviewed and who’s still a contender throughout the hiring process.
Though your profile on LinkedIn and other professional sites still matter, resumes are still king. Social media accounts are primarily used as a way to get some sense of the person but that’s only after the resume has made them consider someone for a job. Therefore, it makes sense to get savvy on how to write a resume that will leave the impression you want.
Below are some tips to help you elevate your resume from drab and forgettable to fab and impressive.
Use your resume as a marketing tool, not a history lesson. The number one mistake I see people make on their resume is listing job titles and responsibilities only. There’s an assumption that if you’ve done something before it should make you an attractive candidate. The problem is, no one knows if you were any good at doing the job and whether you can do something useful for them.
What you did before is just the bare bones of any resume. You’ll want to sell what you can do for the company you’re applying for and what it would feel like to work with you. If the word ‘sell’ makes you cringe, you’re going to have to get over it. This isn’t about up-selling yourself. It’s about marketing the business and services you’re looking for them to hire you for. So, sell you must.
Brevity matters but so does connection. There’s a great deal of debate around how long a resume should be. Many recommend keeping it to one page. However, studies show that people applying for more senior positions have better luck when their resume is closer to two pages. At the end of the day, you want your resume to be easy to read and scan through. Use bolding, bulleting and whitespace to make it easy on the eyes. Avoid cramming and small fonts just to make the resume fit some one-page criteria. Also, don’t forego including information that helps show who you are.
Zety, an online resume builder service, recently analyzed more than 133,000 resumes created on their website across numerous industries. They found that for a typical resume created in their builder, about 380 words is the single-page cut off point. The data clearly shows that an average user tries to keep her resume one page long.
However, contrary to the popular belief, they found that recruiters prefer two-page resumes. Data shows that recruiters are 2.9x more likely to pick a candidate with a two-page resume for managerial roles and 1.4x more likely for entry-level positions.
Skip the mission statement but share a personal quote. Mission statements can make your resume feel dated. A great way to make your resume stand out is including a quote from you at the top of your resume, right below your contact information. This quote should be one sentence or a few short ones. This isn’t a cover letter. It should express your personal philosophy regarding the type of work you are applying to.
An example for an accountant could be, “A business’s success is not just about the profits they make, but ensuring they know exactly how their money is working for them.” Or for a retail manager a personal philosophy quote may be, “Customer service doesn’t start with the customer. It starts with the employee. People who are cared for, care for others.” What’s your philosophy quote that helps represent what you believe to be critical regarding the work you do?
Make the ingredients recognizable but avoid being too generic. Because many company’s use software to scan through all the applicants’ resumes for any given job, be sure to include the technical and soft skill words that will demonstrate you’re a match for the job. However, once a person reads the resume, they will want to see something that stands out and makes your resume feel unique. That means your approach should include key words that match the job posting and some unique descriptions that describe how you approach the job and how that might differentiate you from others.
Zety’s report shows that words like communication, leadership, time management, problem solving and customer service are the top five words used in resumes to demonstrate soft skills. Software experience, project management and public speaking make up most of the common hard skills used. It doesn’t hurt to include a few of these but don’t rely on them to make you stand out.
What you did matters but what it did for the company matters more. As mentioned previously, listing your employment history is just the beginning. It’s a good idea to have the job title, company and dates employed on one line. Bold that line. Underneath it, write a one sentence job description that explains what you were responsible for in a nutshell.
Next, you’ll want to write about three bullet points describing the positive impact you’ve made while on the job. It should follow the formula of Context + Action = Result for each bullet. For context, briefly describe the challenge or project that you tackled. For action, describe how you solved the problem or got the work done. Finally, for result, describe how the company benefited from your efforts. Did you increase efficiencies, boost morale, solidify client loyalty or something else that makes it worth mentioning?
A tailored resume looks as good as a tailored suit. Zety’s report also showed that most people only have one resume on file. This is another big miss. Tailoring your resume to the job posting you are applying for ensures alignment between the two. The idea that one size fits all doesn’t work well when it comes to getting a job. Each job posting usually has a description that calls out key aspects of the company’s culture, the job’s priority responsibilities and skills. Why not take the time to make sure the resume you’re submitting takes advantage of that information? Yes, it takes some extra effort. Ask yourself if the job is worth applying for if you’re not willing to put in that extra effort to get it.
Crafting a unique and compelling resume can feel daunting but including the steps above can set you up to go beyond the generic employment history most people make the mistake of using to make one of the most important connections in their career.