The easiest thing to do when you begin job seeking is to search online for a resume template and replicate that templates with your own professional history. Easy, right? Wrong. Using a resume template will not increase your chances of getting hired because it does exactly the opposite; your resume is supposed to present a unique professional first impression in order to stand out from the competition.
When it comes to finding a new job, increasing your salary and promoting your skills and achievements, the way your resume is presented, structured and written can be the difference between success and failure. With the huge increase of online submissions via employment, career and recruitment sites, it is now easier than ever to apply for jobs. In competitive industries, hiring managers can receive over 1,000 resumes for a particular role. In fact, due to the high volume of applications, many companies now use automated software programs (Automated Resume Screeners) to help with the hiring and elimination process. Many basic resume templates found online can actually interfere with these software programs as the programs are unable to read pictures, tables or images… making your resume unreadable.
Start with a blank piece of paper – what is the best way to make my resume stand out?
Before you even begin the task of writing your resume I would advise you to prepare a list of all the great quantitative achievements and value added skills that you can bring to your next job. Remember that hiring managers are interested in how you are going to be a great asset for the company, and the best way to present this information is through your past achievements. In addition to listing your achievements, include examples and evidence that back up your achievements, and lead with this information.
“Project managed a team that completed the project on time and on budget leading to increased revenues and a reduction in overall costs”
This statement comes across very generic with no evidence to back up the statements. In fact, this statement actually asks more questions than it gives answers. How many people did you project manage? What was the increase in revenues? How did you reduce costs?
After Example (lead with the achievements):
Managed a team of 15 contractors that increased operating revenues (22%, YTD) and reduced costs (18%, YTD) through the effective implementation of continuous process improvements and KPI management.
Three more resume writing tips:
1) Only include information on your resume that adds values
Statistically you only have between 10-20 seconds to attract the reader’s attention. If you fail to make an impression in this time period your resume will most probably be deleted. Remove all unnecessary information. “Interests”, “Hobbies” etc. do not belong on your resume.
2) Bullet points / sub bullet points work to attract the reader’s attention and improve readability
Long sentences are boring to read and make it harder for the reader to recognize the achievement. Using headings, bullet points and sub bullet points will not only professionalize the look of your resume, but it will make the reading process a lot easier.
3) Include a “Qualifications Profile”
A qualifications profile is a fantastic way to introduce yourself to the reader and make a great first impression. As opposed to an objective statement (where you tell the reader what you want), a qualifications profile promotes to the reader the skills (qualifications) you have that will make you the perfect person for their particular role. A strong qualifications profile can immediately develop a great first impression (a weak profile can do the exact opposite).
Does your current resume begin with a generic objective statement telling the reader what type of jobs you are looking for? Let me guess that it reads something similar to this:
“I am seeking the opportunity to expand my skills, knowledge and experience in a challenging professional environment. I am honest, reliable, eager to learn and open to tackling a range of tasks. I am a strong and empathetic team player and always complete tasks to a high degree of quality and to deadlines”
If this is how your resume begins, it’s time to make changes. In the competitive job environment where hiring managers may receive upwards of 500 applications for a single position, an objective statement is more likely going to lead to your resume being deleted. From a hiring manager’s perspective, they are not interested in a non-specific, all-purpose statement that adds no value to the resume and provides them with no reason to want to hire you. You may have the best skills and be the perfect fit for the job however, you may never get this opportunity because your resume has already been deleted.
What is a Qualifications Profile?
A great way to introduce yourself on your resume is by creating a qualifications summary or career summary. Rather than telling the reader you are seeking an opportunity to expand your skills, rather promote what skills you actually can bring to this specific role. A targeted resume including a targeted profile will encourage the reader to continue reading the resume as opposed to pressing the delete button. For example, if you are applying for an IT job that requires programming skills, list you’re programming skills within your introductory profile. That way, the reader will straight away be interested to read on as they know that you have skills that are required for this position.
How long should my Qualifications Profile be?
The last thing you want to do is turn your qualifications profile into an essay! Statistically, a hiring manager will only spend between 15 to 20 seconds when initially reading your resume. If they open your resume and see a half page profile they are more likely to be turned off as they won’t be bothered to read all this information. A well written profile should be no longer than 2-4 sentences. It needs to be targeted and present value.
When you begin to write your new resume, don’t forget the number one rule. Your resume is a marketing document. The more you can showcase your skills and achievements the greater chance you will have of being selected for the interview stage.
I frequently come across resumes that include a section for “hobbies and interests” or something similar. Many people think it’s necessary to include something like this, however I can assure you that it’s probably best to avoid doing so. There is a limited amount of space for content on your chronological resume and just a small amount of time for the reader to look over your information. That being said, you should use it strictly to highlight your professional qualifications and achievements, not your personal hobbies and interests.
Hiring managers are looking to see how you can specifically help them and their companies, not whether you enjoy skiing or bike riding. This sort of information is often times seen as “fluff” – in other words, irrelevant information that is used solely to take up space on a resume to make it seem longer. If you’re concerned about your resume looking too short, there are lots of ways to increase the content without having to lists your hobbies and interests. Think about substituting them for something more work-related, like a section for your professional qualifications or computer-related skills. Or maybe try adding some achievements onto your professional experience section.
While I feel I make a strong point against listing these on your resume, people are always going to be adamant about using them. So, if you absolutely must include your hobbies and interests, try to at least make them pertain to the job you are applying for. Do any of your hobbies involve using your leadership skills, for example? Do they show a pattern of long-term commitment? The most important thing to remember is to keep the content on your resume professionally relevant.
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