The problem with resumes is that they all tend to look and “sound” the same. This is because job candidates are all well aware of the things that “have” to be done to a resume just to land it in the mailboxes of potential employers.
Given that you understand all of these “rules,” the issue is what can you do to stand above the rest? There are some general strategies that you must adopt and then some specific strategies and tips.
Let’s take a look at these and get you that 5-star resume, that interview, and that dream job.
You have to begin to think of yourself in this way. Now, think about why you buy certain brands. They have value to you, that’s why. You need an item, you shop for that item, and then you buy the brand that most fits what you need.
Employment managers are shopping for someone to hire in the same way. They have a need and want to “buy” the brand that best fits it. You have to be that brand, and that is about the best general piece of career advice you will get. What value can you bring to the organization? Stop focusing on what you want in your letter and resume. No one cares about your career goals right now.
Read through job postings carefully. Make a list of the skills they want that you have. Then make a list of the skills they want that you don’t have. If the “don’t have” list is two or more, forget it. Your career prospects lie in those positions for which you have almost all of the listed skills.
This is often the first test an employer gives to candidates. Is there a listed format for your document? Are you supposed to email it over with a specific subject line? Do thy specify no cover letter? If you can’t pass this little “test,” you won’t make the first cut.
No, you are not going to write your essay, but think about this: an essay has a short intro, a long body and a short conclusion. Resumes do too. So, keep that intro short; Provide the detail in that “body,” and only give some very cursory info in that conclusion.
Every cover letter and resume you send out has to be individualized and personalized for that position. Throwing out the same paperwork all over the place and hoping something will “stick” is a bad practice. Even marketers of products now know how important personalization is. Every document must focus on the needs of your customer (potential employer) and every format must be a “match” for the culture of an organization.
You will send a very different resume to a bank than you will to a new tech startup, even though both may be looking for the same skills.
Now here are some more specific tips that could just make the difference.
All resumes begin with name and contact information at the top and sometimes the Phrase “Professional Resume” centered below that. You be different. Put a headline at the top that announces your brand. The brand must relate to your major career skill or the position. “Skilled Programmer with a Creative Edge” would be an example. Put your contact information under that and lose the “Professional Resume” phrase. You state the obvious.
When you have a title/headline, you can usually skip the “executive summary” and/or the “Career Objective,” and that is a good thing. Usually these brief pieces are all about you, not your value to the organization. If you include one of these, it has to be carefully written to focus on the enterprise’s needs.
Yes, you should “tweak” your resume for each job opening. But you should also have one that is more generic somewhere online – on your LinkedIn profile, on your website, if you have one, etc.
Just be certain that the information you give about your work history, education, etc., jibes with the resume you have submitted. And if you mention something about your current or past employment on social media, be certain the detail is not in conflict with what you are putting on your resumes.
If you can list achievements in on-line phrases, and have a good amount of white space in between, the reader can scan and “snack.” Obviously, CV’s are an exception where prose is expected, but even then, be mindful of giving some white space. White space allows the reader to focus on just that one line and then digest it before going on. “Crowded” resumes are bad.
It used to be considered bad form for cover letters to be in any format other than a formal business letter. Not so any more. You want your reader to be able to scan it too, so use bullet points to highlight what you can bring to their table that will fill a need.
If you have a LinkedIn profile or a professional website, by all means provide a link to them in the most related spot in your resume. Some candidates put them in the “conclusion,” along with their educational backgrounds.
Just be mindful of the organization’s “culture.” Sophisticated colors should be used for more conservative companies – navy, dark maroon perhaps – while brighter colors can be used for young, progressive, riskier businesses. Use color as borders, for your name, and as divider lines between the three sections, etc. Check out the organization’s website. Using the same colors could be a psychological boost.
If you have documents that relate directly to what the organization is looking for in skills or achievements, you can add them as an appendix. The good thing about this is the reader dos no have to click out to a link on your website or profile to get to them. It’s convenient.
You know this term. For resumes, it is a bit different – “Keep It Short, Stupid.” The shorter your resume, the better. For entry level positions, employers are looking for a single page; for career positions with more work experience, try to keep it to two.
You can eliminate wasted lines by the following:
Note: If you are lean on the job experience because you are a recent grad, then you may want to write a career objective just to add some visual depth. But couch it in terms of what you want to do for an organization not what you are looking to gain. If you say you are “seeking a position in marketing that will allow me to advance to management,” then it’s all about you, and it’s a loser. Instead, think about how you can use your marketing talent to meet an organization’s goals.
This should be majorly brief. Include your education, links to profiles and/or website only. Do not end with “References available on request” – they know how to ask you for them. And if there is an online application, you’re going to be listing them anyway.
Formats of resumes have evolved. Today, some progressive organizations even request video resumes because they give a more complete picture of the applicant. In other instances, postings may ask only for a cover letter with links to your profiles and website. Someday, these may be the “norm” rather than the exception.
For the time being, however, most employers, recruiters, and hiring managers want a resume. And most actually print them out so they can highlight and markup with comments for later comparison with the competition.
Using these strategies and tips just may get you “marked up” positively.
Brooks Lambert is an experienced academic writer who is currently associated with Classy Essay, as a content writer and online editor. He helps to make the learning process easier and more beneficial for students.