The Resume is The Critical First Step to Getting Hired
So you have a found a job that looks like it’s right up your alley? “Perfect for me,” you might say. “I have all the right attributes and experience for this job,” you say.
It might be the perfect fit for you, and you for it, but there will be a flood of other job seekers answering that ad at the same time. You’ll need to find a way to stand out, so that recruiter gives you the attention you deserve.
An outstanding resume is crucial! As the saying goes, “You’ll never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” Your resume is that first impression. Following some basic rules will make your chances of moving to the next steps in the hiring process much greater. Here are some key tricks of the trade that will help your resume stand out from the crowd.
- Tailor your resume to the job for which you are applying. Read the job description carefully and make sure you mention your experience doing each of the requirements listed in the job specification. Recruiters have a very short window of time to decide if you are to go the next step. You can help them by writing a professional resume targeted to the specific position.
- Consider starting your resume with an executive summary that covers the highlights of your career. Include key words from the job description.
- Provide quantifiable achievements, and do not use extensive lists of skills that are not supported on the resume.
- Try to demonstrate career progression and increased responsibility.
- Use keywords of your industry and key skills to demonstrate expertise. Remember that your resume will be loaded into a database with other resumes and you want yours to be easily searchable. If you have “healthcare” or “manufacturing” industry experience, make sure it’s on there. If you have “six sigma” or “ERP implementation” or “SEC” experience, make sure those words are on there. Those are the kinds of words and phrases a recruiter will use when searching a database.
- Keep it simple. Do not use overly busy fonts or formatting.
- Do not write in the first person.
- Under each company make sure to include the industry, company size, scope of the role (domestic, global, divisional) and company ownership structure. Don’t make this a guessing game or assume the recruiter knows the company.
- Include and explain all degrees and certifications, as well as all awards, honors, additional training, foreign languages fluencies, and system and software experience.
- Include your address and if you are willing to travel and/or relocate. It’s important to include this information on your resume itself, and not just the cover letter. Recruiters often do not load cover letters into their database so any additional information that’s on a cover letter that’s not in your resume will be lost.
- Do not make any typos or grammatical errors. That’s rule number one and can’t be emphasized enough. That’s an immediate red flag than could instantly eliminate you. A recruiter wants to know that you pay attention to detail and will take the time to create a proper deliverable.
- Be honest in all entries. Most things can and will be checked. You can’t hide anything. Lying or misrepresenting yourself on a resume will immediately disqualify you from all future job opportunities with a particular recruiter. While in many cases, being forthright and honest can show integrity and willingness to take ownership of past mistakes.
- Explain potential red flags up front. For example, if you left a job after only 6 months, try to explain it in a positive way.
Again, recruiters have only a short time to make initial decisions. Lead with your most important accomplishments. Consider doing a short impact statement of your very top skills and accomplishments that will make a positive impression in the first 15 seconds. That will be your “grabber.” Then, emphasize your strengths and top positions in the first half of the resume. If the recruiter sees you have the minimum requirements for the position, he or she will read more.
One final tip, and it is an important one. Once you’ve completed your resume, re-read it and edit it. Ask your family members and close colleagues if they think the resume is cogent. Then, ask yourself: Would I want to interview me and find out more based on what was presented on my resume?”