The entry point to a job often comes down to a single piece of paper: your resume. It can be a daunting task trying to summarize years worth of skills and experiences into a single document that serves to catch the eye of a recruiter or employer. The entire purpose of your resume boils down to the fact that you are trying to show that the skills you obtain meet the qualification of the job in question.
Pretty simple, right? Well not exactly…
Many people may be shocked to find out that all of that work you put into your resume often comes down to a matter of minutes. On average, the initial scan of a resume can last seconds and if something catches the recruiter’s attention then later is reviewed only for a couple of minutes. With that said, it is your job to make that time count and sell yourself.
Here are 5 tips (from a recruiter!) that can take your resume to the next level:
1. Use visual hierarchy - just as we have done here!
Let’s just face it: nobody wants to read huge blocks of text that ramble on for pages with no breaks. The good news is, you can easily get your viewer to read the exact same content with just a few visual changes. First, be sure to include white space, that is, to break up your text into sections or paragraphs. Oftentimes in resumes, this can be in bullet format. White space is a visual tactic that is used to simply give your eyes (and brain) a moment of relief and chance to process what you just read - something you want the person reviewing your resume to do! Another helpful hint is to make key words or titles bold. As we mentioned, your resume may initially only be scanned for a few seconds to a few minutes, so you want your job titles and skills to stand out the most to the viewer. Taking a minute to do this can only help you out in the long run!
2. Content and relevance matter the most
While it is great to have an aesthetically pleasing resume, the content and relevance of that content is what matters the most. As the writer, you can only be as effective as the extent to which you know yourself. The best thing you can do for yourself here is showcase your skills throughout your experience section. For instance, each time you list a previous job, be sure to say what skills you used or obtained during your time there.
Being selective with your content can also make a difference. Remember when we said your resume may only be viewed for a few minutes? You do not want to take up those few minutes by having the recruiter or hiring manager sift through irrelevant content. Instead, focus on highlighting the experiences that matter the most to the job you are applying for. For example, in high school you worked in landscaping then later worked as a sales associate, but now you are applying for a sales position. Instead of taking up space to talk about your high school landscaping gig that you did years ago, highlight what you accomplished during your time most recently as a sales associate because of that position's greater overlapping similarities with the sales position.
3. Get to the point
Your resume should not be multiple pages long. Many people can even fit decades worth of experience into a single page - crazy right?! Keep things short, sweet, and to the point, but don’t undersell yourself! There is an art of finding a good balance that is not overwhelming or underwhelming the recruiter or hiring manager. In writing, it can be easy to find ourselves inserting “fluff,” or irrelevant terminology that extends a thought. “Fluff” is not necessary in a resume. Try thinking of this as your chance to get your point across as thoroughly, yet as quickly, as possible. The hiring manager and recruiter often see hundreds of resumes and simply do not have time to read multiple, lengthy pages per person, so try to get right to what you want to say without having any unnecessary “fluff” in the way.
4. Use creative language
A key trick to getting to the point, and selling yourself, in your resume is using creative language. Think of adjectives as the diamonds of your resume - incredibly valuable! They are what effectively tell the reader what skills you have, how you use them, and why they would be beneficial to this new position. Choosing the appropriate language for a resume not only helps highlight your skills, but can keep your work concise and authentic. There is a lot of personality in the use of language, so be professional, but be yourself. Take this as a chance to show the recruiter or hiring manager who you are as a person. For example, let’s look at the statement, “I ran the social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram for the company.” Initially this is fine, but by changing this to, “Revitalizing 4+ social media accounts by developing brand voice, visuals, and strategy to serve and engage the audience,” we get a sense of just how in-depth this task was.
When thinking of what you want to use, stay clear of overused adjectives - unless the job description specifically states it is seeking them!! Going back to the job description and selecting terms that you know can describe you, then incorporating them into your resume is a great, passive way to show the employer that you are the one for the job.
5. Quantify your achievements
Numbers help your reader visualize what exactly it is you achieved, so use numbers to tell your story. Do not leave things up for interpretation on your resume - the last thing you want is the recruiter or hiring manager to guess low on your duties. Instead, give them concrete evidence as to what you achieve and answer their question “how many?” before they can even think to ask it themselves.
For example, I often see resumes containing the statement. “I trained other employees.” That is great, but try changing this to, “I used my leadership skills to train 4 employees per month,” or however many that may be (be truthful!) Now not only do I understand that you are capable of training other people, but that you hold leadership skills and are continuously overseeing multiple people at a given time, demonstrating the ability to multitask.
“Your resume should concisely and compellingly illustrate one major message: This is how I made things better for my employer while I was there.” - Lose the Resume, Land the Job, Gary Burnison
Now the next time you are out searching for that dream job, just remember to follow these tips when selling yourself to employers through your resume. This is your chance to brag, so know yourself and the skills you possess and use them to your advantage. Happy job hunting!
Source: Lose the Resume, Land the Job, Gary Burnison