8 Tiny Résumé Changes You Should Make for a Big Impact
Via Glamour : In today’s cutthroat job market—where the average job posting receives no less than 250 applications—it’s easy to understand why your résumé must be nothing short of stellar. “A standard, one-size-fits-all-jobs résumé no long works,” says Susan P. Joyce, who runs career site Job Hunt and is a visiting scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
And in fact, submitting any ol’ template doesn’t just risk being unimpressive. “A lackluster, uncustomized résumé that doesn’t contain the right keywords for the specific job being applied for will disappear in the résumé database,” Joyce says, “and never be seen by a human being.”
You don’t have to revamp your résumé from top to bottom to make a big impact, our experts say. In fact, they have eight small tweaks that will keep this all-important document out of the trash and put it at the top of the applicant pile.
1. Choose your words carefully. Your résumé isn’t the time to be vague, our experts say. For example, don’t say you’re proficient on Microsoft products if your potential employer is looking for a worker specifically savvy with Microsoft Excel, warns Joyce. “Use the specific terminology in the job description,” she says, so that your résumé is littered with keywords—from your current job description to your skill set—that align with what they hiring manager desires.
If you’re not sure which keywords to use, head to the website Wordle, recommends Dawn Rasmussen, certified résumé writer and president of Pathfinder Writing and Career Services. Copy-and-paste the job description into the site, and it will generate the most-often used words in the blurb in a text-based image. “Hint: The bigger words—meaning they are used the most often—are keywords,” she says.
2. Show off your non-college education. It’s important to call out the skills you’ve honed over the course of your career, says Rasmussen, who suggests nestling a leadership sub-header beneath your education section. Here, you’ll discuss any professional development—i.e. conferences, workshops, trainings, certifications, conventions, webinars, and seminars—that has added to your body of knowledge. Explains Rasmussen, “The best employees are ones who are continuously learning and adding to their skill sets.”
3. Brag your awards. Don’t bury that employee-of-the-year award at the bottom of your résumé. Instead, says Rasmussen, list all your awards in the top one-third of the page. “Too many times, job seekers don’t know what to do with their awards—so, surprise! They are listed last, as if they’re an afterthought,” she says. By adding your awards to the top of your résumé, you show potential employers that others have recognized your skills and abilities—and encourage them to do the same.
Of course, you don’t have to have won an industry-wide award to have a résumé-worthy proverbial trophy. “Awards and notable achievements can include plaques, certificates, awards, industry certifications, speaking engagements, patents, being quoted in a publication, or writing an article,” Rasmussen says.
4. Scrap the objective section. We’re taught that the top of our résumé is the space to tell a hiring manager what we want. But adding an objective is unnecessary—and when it’s done, it’s often done incorrectly, says Joyce. If you can’t stand to scrap it entirely, it’s important to give it a few quick edits.
For example, let’s say this is where your objective stands now: Professional seeking an administrative position in a fast-growing company that will utilize my bachelor’s degree in finance. It’s time to simplify, Joyce says, and replace it with a much simpler objective—the title of the job you’re seeking at the company where you’re seeking the job, i.e., administrative assistant at Glamour. Yep, that’s all you need.
5. Rethink how you discuss work experience. Only listing your job duties is so last résumé. Rather than write out your experience in list format, Rasmussen says, tell a story instead. “Stories are memorable, and stories can tell the value,” she explains. Give your potential employer the so what angle, she says, with short, bullet-pointed stories that show off how you helped your company by saving them money or time, or bolstered their business.
Consider framing each story using the CAR principle, says Rasmussen. “What was the challenge you were facing? What action did you take to fix it or make it better? And what was the end result to the company?” Rasmussen prompts. “Try to quantify results whenever possible, but be careful about revealing potentially confidential or proprietary information. And remember, going through staff reports, performance reviews, recaps, and emails can help you remember specific examples—so always keep a file on hand containing information that documents your performance.”
6. Get rid of fancy formatting. Unusual fonts and bold designs may seem to spruce up an otherwise boring document. But Joyce says added details as simple as borders and underlines can put your résumé in a slush pile, stat—and it has nothing to do with a difference in design taste between you and a potential employer. Résumés are very often scanned by machines before they reach human eyes, “and graphic elements can confuse the technology,” Joyce explains.
7. Show engagement in your work community. To save space, you may have sliced your professional affiliations from your résumé. But listing the organizations of which you’re a part and how you’re involved really pays off, says Rasmussen. “Having a reputable industry organization on your resume adds weight and gravitas to your credentials,” she explains, “and shows that you take your career seriously.”
8. Swap your work email for a personal one. If you’re seeking a job outside your current company, don’t give the contact information you disclose on your resume the chance to negatively impact your job, says Joyce. “Be sure to protect your current position by using a non-work email address and non-work phone number on the resume,” she says. “Employers are not happy with employees who are job hunting, and people get fired—or have to have very uncomfortable discussions with their managers—for this.”
Finally, says Rasmussen, it’s always a good idea to have another set of eyes on this important paper before you send it off. “Errors such as spelling, grammar, usage, capitalization, punctuation, and structure errors can kill your résumé,” she says, who adds you can ask them to proofread from the bottom to the top of the document. “Your eye isn’t used to that progression, so you’ll be more likely to spot errors than skimming top-down,” she explains.
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