A resume has one primary purpose – to secure interviews. So how can you create a strong resume that garners attention from hiring personnel and gets your foot in the door?
Beyond the basic tips you’ve likely already heard about (customize the resume carefully for every job… keep content sharp and succinct…and be meticulous with spelling and format), here are 5 big considerations to support your resume’s success.
1. Understand the “science” behind how a resume is read
Human readers and computer screeners are both used to dissect and analyze resumes, yet both can qualify content uniquely. Applicant Tracking Systems (or ATS) are used by most major organizations to screen out candidates who lack the required skills for the job. Yet these systems can be tricky to ‘overcome’ if your resume is not ATS-compliant.
HR personnel and recruiters also use a discerning eye to critique resumes in order to select interview candidates.
So what exactly are human and computer readers searching for? Well, according to a recent analysis of 4000 job applications by TalentWorks, there are 13 key factors that drove up interview rates of applicants. Several major resume tips taken from this article include:
- Every 3 sentences, use at least 1 number to demonstrate your (concrete) impact. Folks who did that saw gain a +40.2% boost over their competition.
- Incorporate 1-2 leadership-oriented words every 5 sentences. Job applicants who used strong, active, leadership-words saw a +50.9% boost over the competition.
- You should add 15-20 skills, buzzwords, acronyms, etc. to your resume. This is associated with a +58.8% boost in hireability on average.
- Describe your job achievements with different action verbs. This one resume tip is associated with +139.6% boost in getting more interviews.
2. Take the road less traveled
Recognize that resumes are not just meant for online applications. That’s right – you should diversify your job search tactics to increase resume success. Job boards offer a much lower ROI because you are competing with the masses.
Referrals and networking are rising as the top job search strategies. According to this recent study by Jobvite:
“Job boards have a .4% effectiveness and employee referrals have 5.2% effectiveness. In other words, an applicant has over 13X better chance of getting the job than applying through a job board.”
Additional emphasis comes from a survey from Lee Hecht Harrison:
“The reality is that most job openings are never advertised or posted, which means tapping your network is an essential job search resource to uncover hidden opportunities. In fact, 63 percent of job seekers land new jobs through networking.”
3. Qualify advice carefully and keep up with evolving trends
If you want resume tips ‘straight from the horse’s mouth’, align yourself with experts who know resumes and job search strategies the best. Your friends, parents, and colleagues may have lots of opinions to share, but unqualified advice can be more harmful than helpful.
A great starting point is to follow resume thought leaders (career coaches, resume writers, and HR personnel) on social media. These experts have their finger on the pulse of resume trends and will keep you up to speed on new developments and best practices.
Need some resources to help? Connect with these Top 15 Career Coaches and Job Search Experts on LinkedIn for regular tips on all aspects of the job search, including resumes. Or follow these Top 50 Twitter Accounts for Job Search. Full transparency, I’m on both of these lists and darn proud to be included with these top pros and peers:
4. Modernize the look and be original
You can’t expect to stand out in a stack of resumes that all look the same. While considering the unique needs of each audience, employ design tactics to guide the reader’s eye and draw attention to important career impacts.
Visual resumes are written for people, not machines, so save your design resume for modern job search tactics like referrals and networking (not online applications). More on this in point #5 below.
What do recruiters think about the actual LOOK of a resume? In this Jobscan article a recruiter emphasizes the importance of resume presentation and how professionally written resumes stand out:
“package it in a way that blows everyone else out of the water… the resumes that really capture these facts about the executive have been professionally written by a marketing professional (or professional resume writer).”
Similarly, during a recent conference a Recruitment Supervisor shared that when it comes to resumes, demonstration of skill – in alignment with the role requirements – is what matters most. YET she loves and appreciates beautiful design, so if you can pair stellar content with creative presentation in your resume, even better!
Want to see resumes that pack a bit of punch? View award-winning samples, like the ones below, on Career Impressions website.
5. Follow job application instructions – fully!
I am hearing time and time again from recruiters and HR folks that job seekers are bypassing critical job application instructions. Bad idea.
If you want your resume and job application to be taken seriously – and be read – you need to comply with the employer’s application requests and guidelines. If they ask for a cover letter with your resume: include one! Even better, customize it! If they request a copy of your resume be submitted in Word (versus PDF): do it! Their system may not be able to read other formats.
Want to hear what happens when you don’t follow instructions (and learn why employer’s make unique application requests)? Adam Czarnecki, an HR professional, shares a comprehensive breakdown of this topic in a recent YouTube video, in response to this LinkedIn post:
Adam’s video below is well worth the watch to learn how you can be de-selected for an interview by not following application requirements:
In addition, research by an HR outplacement and consulting firm reveals that:
“Failure to meet job requirements is the most common error of job applicants… Delivering what a recruiter is looking for at both the resume submission and interview stage is crucial to securing that great new job.”
“Meanwhile, where candidates do actually have the right skills for the job, badly constructed resumes seem to be at play. Our research shows many job hunters fall victim to focusing on recording general tasks they have completed in their career to date, but not using such experience to illustrate achievements and results”.
Leverage the 5 insights, tips, resources, and recommendations shared above to boost the value of your resume, ensuring it not only resonates but gets into the hands of hiring authorities to be read!
Looking for executive resume support? As an award-winning, master-level resume writer, I partner with top professionals and executives all over the world, helping them level-up, land faster, and increase their earning power with compelling career tools. Visit me online at www.CareerImpressions to learn more.
The Best Executive Resumes According to Executive Recruiters (Jobscan): https://www.jobscan.co/blog/best-executive-resumes-executive-recruiters/
In Hiring, a Friend in Need Is a Prospect, Indeed (New York Times): http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/28/business/employers-increasingly-rely-on-internal-referrals-in-hiring.html
Job Seekers: 12 Things that Recruiters are Looking For Right Now (HR Bartender): https://www.hrbartender.com/2018/recruiting/12-things-recruiters-want-right-now/
Top 15 Career Coaches and Job Search Experts to Follow on LinkedIn (Jobscan): https://www.jobscan.co/blog/job-search-experts-to-follow-on-linkedin/
Job Seeker Nation Study 2017 (Jobvite): https://www.jobvite.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/2017_Job_Seeker_Nation_Study.pdf
Hiring Managers Reveal the Secrets of Success to Job Seekers (Lee Hecht Harrison): https://www.lhh.com/about-us/press-room/2016/hiring-managers-reveal-the-secrets-of-success-to-job-seekers-in-new-lee-hecht-harrison-research
Top 50 Twitter Accounts To Follow for Job Search 2018 (Career Sherpa): http://careersherpa.net/top-50-twitter-accounts-to-follow-job-search-2018/