A Few Key Resume Tips
Resumes have long been the centerpiece of the job search toolkit. This simple document is tasked with promoting everything about you as a job candidate—and it has to do it in la matter of seconds. While your resume may have to capture a potential human reviewer's eye, in today's hiring process, there is more to it. Automation and filters can screen candidates in or screen them out. Preparing your resume for all scenarios and potential reviewers, human and otherwise, will give you an edge.
The first tip? RELAX. Don't stress too much about writing or updating your resume. You know your expertise and you're learning how to best present it in a resume format. It will come together. It is very common for people to overthink the content for a resume, which can lead to a clutter. Stay focused, include the relevant information, but keep it organized.
Should You Use A Template?
Your resume should look sharp. It needs to be clean and easy to read. The most important information should jump off the page and the layout should be in a familiar order. Thankfully, there are many pre-designed resume templates that look great and have all the right sections, modern fonts, and aesthetic appeal. So, whether you use an online resume builder or a template from your favorite word processor, it's generally not necessary to create your resume from a blank slate.
Focus on Accomplishments
Of course, your resume should include your job duties and responsibilities. Think about how you can present your responsibilities in the form of accomplishments. What did you achieve? How did you make an impact with a particular responsibility? Always be thinking about what makes you stand out and the value that you bring.
The Importance of Keywords
Preparing your resume today requires an understanding of what happens once you submit it through an employer's applicant tracking system and how recruiters search for resumes. Many systems are designed to automatically filter and rank applicants based on certain criteria, including keywords. That's why it is crucial that you include the keywords that you feel will be most important based on the job description. Keywords are also necessary to be discovered when recruiters search applicant databases. Also, be sure to check for misspellings!
Content Emphasis and Tailoring
Remember that your resume is just a tool to get to the next phase of the process; a call or interview. Focus on the job at hand and use this tool to its fullest. Start by thinking about what you know about the job. From the job description, you can see what the most important qualifications are. Many well-written job descriptions will also include indicators about cultural fit and work environment. When you prepare your resume for a specific job, it's important to emphasize your qualifications and attributes that match up to those listed in the job description. The same applies to any other bits of information you may have about what the company or hiring manager is seeking in the ideal candidate. You can't change your work experience and you never want embellish or be misleading. What you can do is emphasize the information that is going to matter most for the job you are applying for. By the same token, you can de-emphasize information that isn't going to be important. This is even more of a factor for those changing careers. If you don't possess the exact skills and experience listed in the job description, emphasize your transferable skills and experiences. Put yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager. What does he or she want to see? Based on the job description, what content should jump out? The personal branding section is a great place to start. It's the first section of the resume and usually the first place the eyes of the reader will go.
Personal Branding Section
When you look at a well-formatted resume, it usually starts with a headline followed by either a summary or bullet-pointed highlights of expertise. This area is considered the personal branding section. It states clearly who you are as a professional. The personal branding section can (and should) be tweaked based on the job you are submitting the resume for. The headline shouldn't be too far removed from the job title of that particular job. The summary or bullet points should include the qualifications that you bring that match up to the listed requirements of the job. Your goal is to have the reader of the resume immediately see how your background matches up to the job.
In conclusion, focus on these basic fundamentals and continue to make changes as necessary. A resume is a living document and each version you send should be adapted to the the job as closely as possible. There are many resources available to help you create a market-ready resume. If you are going it alone, it's always a good idea to ask for feedback. Ask friends, family members, or professional colleagues to review it. Another perspective can really help you refine your document and increase your responses.