It goes without saying that we are currently in one of the most challenging hiring environments that we have seen in decades. This environment will require you to be even more creative in the way you market yourself to a prospective employer. It is more important than ever to clearly demonstrate how you are solutions-driven and to be viewed as the one who can make it happen. More than ever, you will need to focus on your unique qualifications, skills and accomplishments. The good news is that with a little extra effort, you can create a resume/CV that makes you stand out as a superior candidate and will help you land that job.
What is a resume/CV, anyway?
Remember, a resume is a self-promotional, marketing document that should present you in the best possible light, for the purpose of getting invited for a second look. Think of your resume as a marketing tool and think of yourself as a product. The potential employer is your customer and your resume is the brochure about you. What are your features and benefits? What makes you unique?
Today’s hiring managers have endless applicant choices. We are seeing a major increase in the number of resumes we get for every open job we have. I recently posted a senior level position, with very specific requirements to intel.com/jobs. Within days, I had over 350 responses…I had to quickly scan each resume and make my decision on who would move forward in the process. Here are my ten tips for ensuring that your resume gets to the head of the pack.
1. Focus – Know the purpose of your resume. Determine your job search objectives prior to writing it. Once you have determined your objective, you can structure the content of your resume around that objective. A targeted resume is much stronger than a generic resume, so write a different resume for each different job target. Tailor your resume and your cover letter to each employer.
2. Put accomplishments first – I am not a big fan of leading with an OBJECTIVES statement. I prefer to see a QUALIFICATIONS SUMMARY that allows you to highlight your strongest credentials or “value proposition” to the resume reviewer – right at the top of the resume. Lead with your strengths and convey key messages early in the body of the resume where they are more likely to be read. Sell the experience that reflects your ability to help the company make more money, save money, figure out specific issues, solve problems, save time, be more competitive, build strategic relationships, expand business, and attract and retain customers. Make sure you let them know how you can help them. And, don’t forget to document past measurable results – identify areas that demonstrate value. Instead of creating a long, boring list of things you have done, try to connect them with real life and work experiences. Be sure to include any awards or recognitions you earned if they are applicable.
3. Show what you know/Show who you know – Use your resume to highlight your breadth of knowledge and use the interview to provide more detail and expand on what you stated in your resume. If you have reported to or worked with someone important such as a vice president or department head or someone well known in the industry, say so in your resume. Clearly explain the benefits of your skills. Remember that you are trying to sell yourself.
4. The 3 S’s – simple, short and sweet – A resume should be a brief “snapshot” of your qualifications. Strive to be clear and concise. Most employers don’t have the time or patience to read long paragraphs of text. Use bullet points and short sentences to describe your experiences, educational background, achievements and professional objectives. And, anything beyond a page (or two at the most) probably indicates a lack of clarity and direction. You don’t need to list everything you have ever done or go into detail about every accomplishment…stick to the critical points. Going back 10-15 years is usually enough, unless your best work experience is from farther back. Mentioning that you cleaned cages at the pet store when you were 16 is probably not going to help land you that executive level position.
5. Language – Start each sentence or performance statement with a vibrant action words like managed, coached, planned, prepared, monitored, developed and presented. Make yourself sound like a doer and talk about achievements instead of responsibilities. Most companies these days will run search queries based on specific key words so use strong key words, but don’t be generic. Even if you are very well qualified, if your resume does not contain the key words related to the job you are applying for, you will be out even before the game begins. Check the job description and related job ads for clues on what the employer might be look for.
These are just five of the top ten tips I have for you. Check out the blog next week where I’ll finish the list and share tip number six through ten!