In all the résumés that I’ve seen from clients, there are six tips that many people miss in writing this important career document. These are the things that make the document jump out and scream, “Pick Me” either to the applicant tracking software or to the human who has to plow through the hundreds of submissions.
Here are six tips that will help you jump to the top of the résumé heap:
1) Job Title Headline
This should either be the same as or very similar to the job opening you are pursuing, but it also themes your résumé. Face it, you can’t cram everything and the kitchen sink into your résumé, nor should you. Focus on how your background specifically relates to the job opening, and create a focal point at the top (bold, centered, capitalized) that immediately positions you for that job. This headline also drives the development of your resume – everything else you talk about should feed back into that headline.
2) 30 Second Commercial
Don’t you think that in all places, your résumé should state why they should hire you? Ditch the objective statement… employers don’t care what you want… give them something that they can benefit from… sell them on your soft skills and how they connect to your ability to do the job. Everyone needs an elevator pitch- this is the time to include it in your résumé.
3) Skill Sets
Think like an employer and understand what ‘applicant tracking system’ or ‘keyword scanning software’ means. Then take the time to carefully research the skills necessary to do the job for which you are applying, and don’t rely only on the job description. Sometimes, the person who wrote that overview doesn’t quite understand the job themselves, so you’ll need to do some digging on similar positions. Eventually, you’ll start to see a pattern of keywords, and you know you’ve struck gold.
4) Notable Achievements
I am amazed at how many times that I see where people list awards or things that make them stand out in their field at the very end of the résumé. Obviously, they are at a loss of where exactly this information belongs, and reserve it to the end. Now why would you do that? The first 1/3 of your résumé is going to be your ticket to the interview, and you absolutely should state anything that distinguishes you. Things like awards, speaking engagements, being published or interviewed in an industry publication, or holding a patent… those are points you want to include near the top of the document. Don’t have any? No sweat… but if you do, this is where you want to include them so they stand out, instead of appearing as an afterthought.
5) Showcase Your Work Accomplishments
Cutting and pasting your job duties under each employment record = FAIL. This isn’t good enough, especially in today's highly competitive job marketplace. Prospective employers are reading through this section to figure out what you did for the other company so they can make a guess of what you might do for them. Think action and result- this will tell the story of how you are able to do those job duties and how you performed doing them.
Be careful about adding too many different font types, and for Pete’s sake, don’t include a photo or color elements in your résumé. Font size should be between 10-12 point, and white space is critical to breaking up the sections and letting the reader move on to a new area.
Keeping these factors in mind can greatly improve your chances to making it to the next screening level and make you stand out, so you can shine in the interview.