If you’re in the midst of a job search, you no doubt want your resume to land enough interviews to make your efforts worthwhile. If it seems like you are passed over for jobs on a regular basis, consider this: what you see as your real strengths might NOT be conveyed on the resume you send out.
Here are some ways to reverse this situation and clearly market your qualifications so your resume gets noticed:
Ask yourself what your 3 main qualifications are—then write directly to them. What do you really want an employer to know about you? Take out a piece of paper and jot down your three strongest qualifications for the job. For example, this could be a recent degree, your leadership capabilities, or your ability to bring in new business. Now write your resume around these points, taking into consideration that the document should give a clear picture of your overall background as well.
Not sure what strengths to highlight? Take out a job description from an online posting and circle some areas that match your expertise. Focus your thinking around these requirements and the skills that accompany them.
Stop taking up space with mundane details. Think of your resume in terms of a certain amount of valuable space, then use that space to convey your strong points as much as possible. Avoid focusing on the details that others most likely know about your profession.
For example, it is generally assumed that accountants are familiar with the general ledger, and that network administrators back up servers. I recommend that you conserve “resume real estate” by giving hiring managers some hard facts about the impact you have had on your work environment, customers, and to the bottom line.
List the most important aspects of your credentials FIRST. I am always amazed by the volume of highly credentialed professionals who show an old degree at the top of their resumes. If your degree is surpassed by your experience, put it near the end of your resume.
If you have managerial experience and you are applying to a leadership position, put this on your resume toward the beginning. By the same token, be sure to show qualities and skills relevant to the job as quickly as possible on your resume so that these will not be missed.
Don’t use “rules” unless they apply to you. The biggest mistake I see here is that experienced professionals try to cram a lot of detail onto one page. Since no one is really sure of the origination of the one-page “rule,” it is best to just forget about it and concentrate on readability instead.
Other rules to skip include the use of an objective statement (very outdated) or references (should be kept separate) on the resume.
Quantify everything where possible. One of the biggest rules in the resume industry is “show, don’t tell.” A very effective way to demonstrate the full impact of your work is to pull as many figures into your resume as possible.
To get yourself into the mode of including numbers, look at each sentence and try to think like a four-year-old. So you brought in new business—how much? If you reduced costs—by what percentage? Ask yourself the kind of questions that employers might want to know in an interview, and you’ll soon find that your resume contains some exciting facts and quantifiable numbers that will catch the reader’s eye.
Remember that it is up to YOU to make an outstanding first impression, and that you may need to take a hard look at how you are presenting yourself on paper—especially if your resume is not producing the results you expect.