No matter what industry you seek to work in, your resume is crucial to your appeal as a candidate. Resumes get your foot in the door of a company. However, getting resume tips from family or friends may not always produce the most accurate advice. And if you fail to meet applicant tracking system criteria or make it difficult for hiring managers to read your resume, there is no second chance at a first impression. In today’s online and tech-driven employment landscape, use these steps to boost your changes at getting an interview.
This is a Marketing Document
It is easy to slip into the mindset that a resume is simply a tool to list your professional history. But in truth, a resume is a document used to market yourself to potential employers. The focus must be on what you want to do in the future. For example, if you want to be a teacher and worked as a cashier at Starbucks, focus on mentoring teammates rather than tracking inventory. Emphasize the responsibilities you want to keep using. Further, you can use a headline or summary section to grab the recruiter’s attention by highlighting outstanding expertise, experience and professional qualities.
Keywords are Critical
You have probably heard time and time again that if you’re struggling to get an interview, your resume may not have the right keywords. Recruiters and hiring managers use keywords to help rank candidates. Find your industry keywords by consulting online job descriptions, the About Us section of a company’s website, LinkedIn group discussions and social media. You can also use online word cloud generators; simply input a couple job descriptions to find their word clouds, input your resume, and compare the results.
Applicant Tracking Systems are Everywhere
Nowadays, many companies use applicant tracking systems to manage the countless job applications they receive. These systems scan your resume and rank your application against the job description. Applications which receive high scores get shortlisted for an interview call. Making your resume applicant tracking system friendly can be the difference between an interview or a rejection email. When uploading your resume, use a standard Word .doc format, as some systems cannot read a .dox or .pdf file. Also, use simple formatting and put all important information in the body of the resume rather than footers or charts.
Make it Easy to Read
First, focus on the content. Remove unnecessary articles as it is now standard to use a shorthand style on resumes. Further declutter your resume of irrelevant experience and dates; i.e. if you have over 15 years of professional experience, whittle down the length of your early experiences. When possible, use percentages to make it easier to spot quantifiable results. Second, focus on the layout. As the average reader of your resume is skimming the document, use bullet points to make it easier to read. Ensure there are relevant headings and subheadings and include white space between the paragraphs. Finally, make sure your contact information is easy to spot for when a recruiter wants to contact you.
Sequence is Key
Last but not least, all information on your resume should be listed in its order of importance to the reader. The best sequence for jobs is title/position, name of employer, city/state of employer, then dates of employment. This is important for applicant tracking systems as well, since the system may not pick up an experience if the date is listed first.
Thousands of employers are searching for candidates every day. If you invest the time to improve your resume, then your chances of getting hired will get better. Remember to think of your resume as a marketing tool, a letter or a story to make it more personal and effective.