Resume Tips to Get Your Resume Noticed
How Important is Your Resume?
Due to the competitiveness of today’s job market and ability to send out resumes en masse, it’s especially important to take time to craft an effective resume. You want your resume to stand out in the crowd! Some basic resume tips are covered in this article.
With a window of opportunity often as little as 10 seconds for the resume to spark the reader’s attention, your goal is to portray your expertise and overall value offered in a concise and effective manner.
Gone are the days of a tasked-based resume with an inventory of a position’s responsibilities, coupled with a standard list of personal aptitudes. This has been replaced with an achievement/accomplishment based document that depicts you as a proactive candidate and demonstrates your unique value to the organization.
Here are Some Resume Tips to Get Started
Resume Tip #1: Replace a generic career objective with a succinct career profile that summarizes your expertise and includes accomplishment highlights.
Be clear and focus on what you provide. Review your accomplishments and skills and succinctly summarize your strengths.
This concentrates on what you can deliver vs. what you want. Title your profile with a few words to describe your area of expertise (this can also include industry area).
Use a heading format on your title so that it immediately stands out. The rest of your resume should be written to support this area of expertise (only claim what you have!)
Resume Tip #2: Incorporate industry-related keywords as well as action verbs.
Include keywords that match your skills to the employer’s job description.
- A computer or an HR employee may be scanning résumés for keywords. Include keywords from the employer’s job description or from posted descriptions for similar jobs.
Industry-related keywords are generally nouns such as mechanical engineer, Adobe Photoshop, GIS.
Start your sentences with action verbs and avoid using first person I on your resume.
Here are a few action verbs to start with: orchestrated, devised, instructed, spearheaded, maximized, led, directed, streamlined, oversaw, managed, motivated, controlled, delegated, consolidated, generated, implemented, proposed, specified, etc.
Resume Tip #3: Identify challenges you overcame; the action or solution you undertook to alleviate the challenge; and the (quantifiable) result.
As much as possible, quantify your accomplishments, e.g., “Increased sales by 15%.”
Challenge: Staff turnover high, performance levels extremely poor, with overall costs to recruit and train new staff high.
Action: Developed staff monitoring and incentive programs; implemented staff training programs.
Result: Increased staff knowledge base; decreased staff turnover by 67%; increased staff morale and collaboration; increased productivity levels by 77%.
This would be written in your resume as: Enhanced staff morale; optimized productivity levels by 77%; and reduced staff turnover by 67% through implementation of strategic monitoring and incentive programs.
Notice that the quantifiable accomplishment was listed first, followed by how the accomplishment was obtained.
Resume Tip #4: Write your employment history with impact.
Provide evidence for your claimed strengths.
- Highlight your strengths in the first ¼ page of your résumé. Use the experience section to address each of your claimed strengths.
- Focus on accomplishments vs. duties.
Your accomplishments distinguish you from other applicants who have had similar duties and job titles.
When identifying your professional experience, create a strategically written paragraph outlining your primary focus as well as clarifying your employer’s line of business if it’s not a well-known company.
Follow the paragraph with a bulleted list of your quantified accomplishments.
Resume Tip #5: Avoid fluff.
When writing things such as “good with people”, think about actual data you have in your experience to support that.
How would you prove to someone that you were “good with people?” Did you receive a customer service award, increase customer retention, reduce staff turnover, or increase sales? List the data, not the fluff.
Resume Tip #6: List up to (not more than) 15 years prior experience.
15 years is about the maximum you want to list in terms of experience on your resume. If your experience from 10-15 years ago is completely irrelevant, go ahead and leave it off.
However, if you have great accomplishments in your early positions, listing them might validate some of your key strengths. You also do not need to list details of everything you have done. Focus on what is relevant to the position you want.
Resume Tip #7: Use no more than two pages for your resume.
Don’t include too much detail.
- A résumé is a summary of your qualifications. Its purpose is to get you an interview. The interview will allow you to provide additional information.
This of course does not apply if you are writing a curriculum vitae (CV).
Resume Tip #8: Focus on how you can help not what you what.
Look at your résumé from the employer’s point of view.
- Focus on what you provide vs. what you want.
Resumes that read all about what you want are a turn off to hiring managers (looking for a progressive organization, competitive pay, and so forth). Rather, your language should focus on the value that you might bring an organization.
(By the way, this same strategy works for relationship-building, interviewing, etc. Be a resource for others and they’ll appreciate and remember you).
Resume Tip #9: Write your resume towards the position you want vs. itemizing everything you have done.
Focus your résumé for a particular kind of job.
- If you want to be considered for more than one kind of job, create a résumé adapted for each specific job.
- A generic résumé is seldom a good résumé for any particular job.
- Don’t expect an employer to match your résumé to more than one job, or to keep it on file.
To illustrate a basic example: you may have filed documents faster than anyone at your previous job and without error.
However, you do not enjoy filing documents and would prefer to focus on your marketing skills. In this case, focus your employment history on your marketing skills and accomplishments and leave out the filing skills.
If you have little marketing experience in your prior employment history, but have recently completed a degree in marketing, list your education first and bold your degree.
You want to highlight your most relevant skills. If you have volunteer or community service experience and used marketing related skills, list those and detail your accomplishments.
Resume Tip #10: Format your resume to highlight your best strengths.
For example, if you have an advanced degree in a related field, bold your degree and not the rest of the education section. If your job titles are more impressive than your employers, bold your job titles.
Be sure there is white space around your top accomplishments so that they’re read in the 10-second review of your resume.
Resume Tip #11: Create white space throughout your resume and break up paragraphs into digestible bullet points.
Get the employer’s attention within 10 – 20 seconds.
- Use an attractive, easy-to-read format
- Be sure there is plenty of white space on your résumé so it’s easy to scan quickly
Remember, your resume will be scanned, not read initially (think of how you scan the internet). Use heading styles, bullet points, underline and italics to draw the reader’s eye to the most important points on your resume.
You want someone to be able to scan your resume quickly and see that you are a good fit for the position (without having to read all the text).
Resume Tip #12: Be sure your formatting is consistent throughout.
If you end a bullet point with a period, do so throughout the document. Have someone else proofread it for you to catch these details.
You are communicating qualities such as thoroughness, attention to detail, and interest in the position by catching all these tiny details.
Resume Tip #13: Leave all personal information OFF your resume.
Do not include personal information such as height, weight, political or religious affiliations, marital status, ethnicity, etc.
Resume Tip #14: Be sure to have someone else review and edit your resume.
Be sure you do not have grammar, spelling, or formatting errors!
- Your résumé is a sample of your work. A quality résumé shows you are capable of quality work.
Make sure your resume is error-free. It is an important communication tool in your job search process.
Resume Writing Resources:
Here are some additional resume writing resources:
- How to Write Your Resume
- Classic Resume Sample
- Sample Manager Resume
- Resume-Phrases for Effective Resumes
- Action Verbs for Effective Resumes
- Cover Letter Example
- Searchable Database of Resume & Cover Letter Examples by Industry, Job Title & Experience Level
- Career Planning Resources
Your Resume Helps You Find the Job You Really Want
Remember that your resume is a marketing tool to help you find the job you really want. If you are unsure what type of job/career you are searching for, it can come across in your resume.
Employers are looking for someone who wants the job they have to offer not just someone who would be willing to accept the job. The difference is a big difference in terms of fit, especially to employers.
If you are unsure of what you are actually looking for in your job search, it is a good idea to explore your career goals with a career counselor. A career counselor can help you refine your career objective and establish a career direction that feels clear and meaningful to you.
This will make it easier to target specific employment opportunities as well as customizing your resume for those positions. Your resume will be much more effective with a clear focus.
For help with your resume or career direction, contact one of our career counselors.
Read more on how to write a resume.
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