Have you ever submitted your resume to a company or a search firm without receiving any type of reply? The issues may not be tied to your qualifications. It may be that your resume never gets noticed in the first place.
When applying to companies online, don’t overestimate who is reading your resume. In most cases, the reader doesn’t have anything to do with the job and has no direct experience with it. Your initial audience is often a recruiter who is told to look for certain key words that match the job description and also to focus on the resumes with tangible accomplishments. Only heavily filtered lists of resumes will be forwarded to hiring managers. You may be the right candidate, but if you have the wrong type of resume, you won’t get the opportunity to interview.
Spend time on your resume. This is one of the few things about your job search that you can control. Here are 20 tips that should help you:
- Prepare your resume in a simple format using MS Word that can easily be viewed on most computers. Do not use a table format, template or resume wizard.
- Don’t include an objective. An employer cares about their objective, not your objective.
- Unless you are in a profession that requires a head-shot, do not include photos on your resume.
- Make sure that the experience on your resume matches the experience on your LinkedIn profile. We always check both and often find discrepancies.
- Your resume has to be relatively simple and straight forward. It should be no more than two pages. The average resume is read in 5 to 10 seconds and the person looking at your resume should be able to easily understand where you went to school, where you have worked and for how long, and what that company does. Just because you know the company or it’s a big name like Nestle, Warner Bros., or Boeing Corp., it doesn’t mean everyone is familiar with what your specific division does.
- Use titles or headings that match the jobs you want. With employers receiving hundreds of resumes, you must make sure that your resume gets the employer’s attention within seconds of looking at your resume. A great way to do this is to use job titles and skill headings that relate to and match the job you are applying for.
- Use bullet points and short sentences to describe your experiences. Your audience does not have the desire, nor the time, to read long wordy paragraphs of text.
- Use a reverse chronological order. List your present or most recent job first, and then work backwards. State the complete name of the company you work for, or have worked for, what they do, and how long you were there (month and year). Then list the position you held and your accomplishments. You don’t have to use full sentences and can begin with verbs. For example, “Managed company tax reporting, finance, invoicing, and purchasing.”
- Prioritize the content of your resume. Too many people list very important data in the lower sections of their job descriptions, where it can easily go unnoticed. As you compile statements for your resume, prioritize them by importance, impressiveness and relevance.
- Specific accomplishments sell and help you stand out from other candidates. Numbers, statistics and percentages receive attention. For example, “Increased profits by this 28%”; “Reduced the month-end close cycle from 12 days to 5”; “Completed ERP implementation 30 days prior to deadline and came under budget by 22%” are important ingredients.
- Fuzzy key words and phrases should be avoided. These include “customer-oriented, excellent communications skills, and creative.” These words lack meaning and do absolutely nothing to help you get an interview.
- If you’re in a creative field like marketing, journalism, or web design, making your resume look different from the standard one-page chronological list may be okay, as it will make it stand out from others and show off your talents. However, if you are in a non-creative position, avoid fancy fonts, layouts and other special effects. Go easy on boldface type, italics, and underlining. Use a traditional font like Times New Roman and use 10 to 12 point font size. You might try a different type size for your name, title, and the companies you have worked for, but try to be consistent.
- Go to linkedin.com, monster.com, careerbuilder.com, simplyhired.com, and indeed.com to review job postings. Read multiple descriptions of the type of job you are seeking. Where you have the appropriate experience, make sure your resume includes the same key words that you consistently find in job descriptions. The more your resume runs parallel to a description, the more likely you are to get noticed.
- Avoid too much personal information such as, “married with three kids.” In your mind, it may make you sound stable and responsible. However, to a hiring manager looking for someone to travel or work overtime, it may keep you from being interviewed.
- Don’t include irrelevant information such as political affiliations, religions, and hobbies. Unless you are 100% sure that some of your hobbies will support your candidacy, avoid mentioning them. While you may enjoy sailing or poker tournaments, this information should be shared with your friends and not with potential employers.
- Do not include obvious information – many people include statements such as “Available for interview” or “References available upon request.” If you are sending a resume to a company, it should be a given that you are available for an interview and that you will provide references if requested.
- Don’t be afraid to have more than one resume. Most people create one standard resume and send it to all the job openings that they can find. While it may save you some time, it may also decrease the chances of landing an interview. Tailor your resume for each opportunity that you apply to.
- If you have been working for 20 years or more, there is no need to have 3 pages of your resume listing all your work experiences. Most experts agree that the last 15 years of your career are enough.
- Proofread your resume twice and then have someone else proofread it. A single typo can decrease your chances of getting an interview. More than one, and you’re definitely out.
- Consider getting professional help. If you are having a hard time creating your resume, or if you are receiving no response whatsoever from companies, you could consider hiring a professional resume writing service. There are local and online options are available, and the investment is often worth the money.