After being asked to help numerous friends and family members with their resumes, I thought it might be helpful to do a post on my process, as it has always seemed to work pretty well for me. With the digital age it seems like once we push that “submit” button to upload our online application it seems as if whatever we have just sent joins the ranks of about 10,000 other, similar and qualified candidate pleas. So how does your resume stand out? Here are a few of my tips on giving your resume the best shot possible.
1. Keep It Simple. Recruiters and HR professionals see tons of resumes daily, so you can imagine that their eyes can tend to gloss over lengthy and crowded submissions. I think a lot of people fall into the trap that more is better, or that they feel that if they don’t have tons of information, they might not be qualified. I generally steer people away from this and tell them to strip down their experience to the most relevant information, specific to the job in which you are applying.
2. Use Buzz Words. Often times when a recruiter is looking at resumes they will pick up on key words, that will entice them to read further. (Hint: To find out what key words they may want to see, go back to the job description itself.) Often times I find that job description can serve as a roadmap for what they are looking for. My resume foundation stays the same but I do switch up my skill set and qualifications for each job I’m applying for (within reason). For example if I am noticing the job description is requesting vast knowledge in social media, I will play up my qualifications for digital marketing in that realm. If they are looking for someone that has a lot of event planning experience, I will switch gears and convey more of that skillset. Slight adjustments to tailor your resume to the job summary is a great way for recruiters to see an instant match and call you for an interview. Remember that when keeping things short (5-6 bullets maximum for each job description) it is that much more important to highlight your relevant background to the actual position.
3. Give Yourself Credit. When describing your qualifications make sure you are using vocabulary that conveys some decision making and leadership skills. You want to be careful not to take too much credit if you were part of an overall objective with a team but I try and shy away from words like “assist” and instead think of projects where I “managed” or “executed” deliverables on my own. An employer wants to know that you don’t have to be hand held and that you are bringing something to the table with your experience. As I’ve grown further into my career I realize it’s less about demonstrating your ability to follow tasks and more about thinking outside of the box and contributing your own ideas.
4. Research similar job descriptions. Stumped on all that you have accomplished at your current role? Google your position title and see what job descriptions come up. It will spark your memory on tasks and objectives that you can tout about yourself. It’s so easy to start to take for granted the contribution you make because it starts to feel like second nature. It can be even harder to put responsibilities into one bulleted line item. Refrain from stealing online posted material, but use it as a guide to realize how much you actually do in your day to day tasks and how to best eloquently get your experience across efficiently. (Hint: I actually keep copies of all my job postings for current roles, it has proven to help me when I am updating my resume later on.) If you weren’t able to think ahead, you can always ask your human resources manager for your company job description, there are a multitude of reasons why you might want it so it doesn’t always have to be a tip-off that you are job hunting.
5. Presentation is Everything. When you are done tweaking your resume it is very important to submit it as a PDF. I think there are some people out there that still feel that sending a Word document is appropriate with their resume and cover letter (which by the way, you ALWAYS need a cover letter.) But think of all the grammar notifications you get on a Word Document, vs. the clean, stream-lined look you get when you open a PDF. It looks polished and thought out and everyone appreciates that.