Making your Resume Stand Out
In today’s highly competitive market, how does one get noticed for their next job opportunity? A proactive approach is key to ensuring your name and skill set rises to the top in an ever-increasingly saturated talent pool. In other words, do not wait for employers to come to you, find them and prove that you can add value to their organization before you are even hired. A successful job search requires a lot of work, so here are a few keys to make sure you are prepared prior to your search.
Preparation starts with your resume
The theory that you should be able to condense your resume into two pages is outdated- you may have 5-10 short term contract positions in your recent past, so be sure to include them all. That said, keep it within reason. While as much pertinent information as possible is a good idea, recruiters do not want to read a 10-page resume full of technical jargon. When providing detail about your previous experience, make sure to indicate how your efforts benefitted each company. Simply indicating that you offer a certain skill set will not catch any employer or recruiter’s attention. Instead, state how your contribution positively impacted the company and use quantifiable points whenever possible. i.e.: Increased production by 48%. Decreased errors by 31%.
After you have increased the depth of your resume, personalize it
Your resume should highlight what you did and provide examples of what you personally contributed, not simply what your team accomplished. Recruiters are trained to look for this, so include words that pertain to personal accomplishments such as "lead, drove, and created" as opposed to "we, participated, and contributed." If you are constantly using words that indicate you were not being an individual contributor, but more of a group member who needed constant direction, you will decrease your chances of catching an employer’s attention. This is considered a red flag and typically this means the candidate is not comfortable completing tasks on their own.
Use proper grammar and spelling
You would think that this goes with out saying, but resumes are submitted every day with numerous spelling and grammatical errors. This is your resume – the culmination of all of your professional accomplishments – not a text message. Considering some companies spell check every resume before they review it, spell checking can not be overlooked. Take the extra precaution to proofread your resume multiple times and better yet, have someone else proof\read your resume. This same rule should apply to your email correspondence with recruiters and potential employers. Being personable is important, but it should never cross the line to the point of being unprofessional.
Replace the cover letter
Employers want to see what you have accomplished in your career and how you continue to grow. The candidate market is flooded and a one-page essay is not going to do you any good because, in most cases, it will not be read. Replace that dusty, outdated cover letter with a portfolio, a link to a blog that you write or a meet-up group that you attend. Additional information about side projects such as learning a new coding language or certifications you are pursuing will prove your value and the increase the chances of an employer taking notice. A catchy email that accompanies your resume submission can be good, but limit it to no more than 3 sentences – it should be your "value proposition"…the fundamental reasons you would bring value to the organization – it should not be your biography.
Consult the pros
If you are still having a hard time creating interest from employers do not be afraid to ask for help. You may want to consider working with a professional resume writer. There are many local companies that specialize in this as well as online classes. The small cost of using this service is worth it to help you land your next position. Also, utilize a recruiting agency. Our job is to get your resume directly in front of the hiring manager and ensure that it will not be lost in the black hole of a resume submission portal. Recruiters are a free-to-you resource – the more people and resources standing in your corner as you embark on your job search, the more successful your search will be.