Some say networking is the best way to find a job. Others swear by job boards, classified ads, online social networks and most recently, search engines. Regardless of your preferred method, at some point in the selection process, you will be asked to produce a resume.
How do you make your resume stand out from hundreds? In one word: Content.
- Your resume must be current. Even if you’ve had the same job for the last 10 years, you should update your resume to reflect your recent accomplishments. Highlight your participation on a large project, or focus on a new procedure you implemented.
- Tailor your resume to the specific job for which you are applying. To accommodate high volumes of resumes, many employers use electronic recruiting tools for the screening process. These tools are able to scan resumes for key words (read: skills) that are relevant to a specific job. One helpful hint is to use similar words from the actual job description to describe the skills on your resume.
Word of caution: Do not say you have a particular skill if you don’t. Stretching the truth will eventually come back to haunt you. A misrepresentation of any kind is a poor reflection of your integrity and in some cases will get you fired.
- Be sure your resume is easy to read. Use bullet points when possible. It’s important that your resume be clear and brief. Recruiters are extremely busy and need to be able to determine quickly if you are a viable candidate. However, do not take the easy road here. While your resume should be brief, it must also be impactful. Recruiters want to see your responsibilities, as well as your specific accomplishments and results. To keep the resume brief, highlight those accomplishments that are most relevant to the job opening.
Proofread your resume, and then have someone else proofread it! One typo or grammatical error may seem like a minor offense in the presence of strong skills and experience. However, you have one chance to make a first impression, so your resume must be perfect.
In the end, recruiters and hiring managers are human beings with different personalities and perspectives. There is no way to anticipate these, and you shouldn’t try. Your goal is to make sure the average person reading your resume can clearly see your skills and talents. A recruiter’s first priority is to find the best candidate. Good luck in your career search!
Andie Radford is a Human Resources Manager with more than 17 years HR experience with various Fortune 500 companies. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Wayne State University, as well as an MBA from Atlanta University. She is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources.
The Truth About…
One-page resumes: All of us have heard at one time or another that a resume should be limited to one page. For candidates with many years of experience and several employers, it may be impossible to cover everything on one page. On the other hand, recent college graduates and candidates with less than five years of experience should not have two page resumes.
Cover letters: The jury is still out on the effectiveness of cover letters. With the advent of online application processes, one could easily question the value of cover letters. Use a cover letter to explain gaps in employment or your desire to apply your skills to a new industry.
If the application process requests or suggests a cover letter, be sure to submit one. Keep the cover letter brief, and personalize it specifically for the job to which you are applying. You should not spend more time on your cover letter than you spend on your resume!
Paid Resume Writers: Resume writing is not rocket science. Try taking a stab at this yourself before seeking paid, professional help. Search the internet for free resume samples. Go to the bookstore or library for self-help books, and ask trusted friends to critique your resume. If you find you don’t get many second looks at your resume, consider going back to the drawing board.
The following local agencies offer free career services:
- Urban League of Greater Richmond
- Virginia Employment Commission
- The Commonwealth of Virginia Employment and Resource Center