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Your Resume… How important is it?

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When the time comes to looking for a job, your resume is by far the most important link between you and your potential new job. Once you interview and are given the two greatest words of “you’re hired,” your resume becomes a worthless document. That is, until years later when you decide you want a new challenge, and you reach back into the drawer, dust off the resume and start again.

In a recent college poll, over 90% of college students said they had no idea about how to write a good resume. Even more alarming was that 95% of the students interviewed did not list achievements on their resumes.

In the current economic climate, it is imperative that your resume is not only structured and formatted correctly, but that it is also easy to read and pleasing to the eye. For every single job you apply for, there are potentially 100, 200, and maybe even 300 other people with similar skills who are applying for the very same position. With so many applications it’s no wonder that a candidate who has written an incorrect resume is not getting the interview requests. So, perhaps, it would be better to search how to structure a functional resume. Such guidelines are not very ubiquitos, however writing a functional resume could be rewarding.

In my experience, the main reason candidates finds their applications continually rejected has nothing to do with their skills or experience (or even with the lack of skills or experience) – it is because their resumes are just not good enough to get them an interview.

Don’t let this happen to you. If writing your resume is stressing you out, think about using asking professional resume writers online for help. Many applicants these days use professionals to help them get a leg in front of their competition. Remember – your resume is the most important tool you have to get a job. A professional writer knows how to highlight your strengths and portray this on your resume. In the competitive world we live in, you need to be one step ahead of your competition. A professional writer can help take your resume to the top of the pile.

Does Your Resume Pass or Fail

Does your professional resume stand out from the competition? Will your resume meet the expectations of employers or hiring managers or will it end up in the deleted items folder?

Resume writing is an art form and while there are no exact rules that will ensure you get the job, there are plenty of mistakes that you can make that will prevent your resume from being noticed. No matter if you are a recent student or a high flying executive, a compelling written resume that highlights your skills and promotes your talents to the hiring manager will ensure that you give yourself every opportunity of making it to the interview stage.

What will make my resume stand out from the competition?

The most important aspect of resume writing is marketing yourself correctly. Do not waste the reader’s time with irrelevant information that will not aid your job description. Statistically your resume has less than 30 seconds to shine so make sure the most important information is placed on the front page. If you require a certain qualification or license make sure this is easily located on your resume. The more you make the recruiter or hiring manager work to find your information, the greater chance they will delete your resume.

Replace the Objective Statement with a Qualifications Profile:

Do you have a generic, obsolete and boring objective statement at the top of your resume? Something that reads like: “Self-motivated professional seeking a position with a company where I can develop my career and skills”. If so, remove this immediately and replace it with a qualifications profile or career summary. Rather than telling the reader what you want, tell the reader what you can offer their organization and therefore why you would be a good fit for this role.

Target the Reader:

As a hiring manager, when I read job candidate resumes, I want to instantly find certain requirements that I am looking for in prospective candidates. For example, if I am hiring a computer programmer and one of the requirements for the job is to be proficient in a range of computing languages such as C, Java, Perl etc. then I expect to see this on page 1 of the resume. By hiding this important information on page 3 is not beneficial for this job application. Employers can often receive hundreds of resumes for a particular job. The harder you make their life, the greater the chance that your resume will be deleted.

Strategic Keywords:

With demand for jobs so competitive, many firms now use software programs as a way of performing “first round interviews”. Using selected keywords will ensure that your resume passes the first stage of selection and will not be deleted before a hiring manager has even had a chance to read your application. The best way to find these keywords is by simply reading the job positions. See what the company is looking for and make sure your resume is full of these keywords!

Is Your Resume Being Screened?

Believe it or not, but your resume has probably been screened by a hiring manager at some point. One of the most common ways to screen a resume is through an applicant’s address. Technically, hiring managers are not supposed to do this, but it happens more often than not.

Why does this happen?

Hiring manages are always looking for the best candidates, of course, but they also want the interview process to be as efficient and easy as possible. They usually prefer candidates who live in nearby areas so they can meet with them in person, as soon as possible, and at no extra cost to the company. Out of state applicants are difficult and expensive. Interview arrangements can take days or weeks, and sometimes the company will have to pay for the applicant’s travel arrangements. Let’s just say it’s not the ideal situation for a hiring manager.

Hiring managers tend to make assumptions based on where people live and while this is by no means right, it happens all the time. A candidate can be considered to be too much of a hassle to interview if they live far away, or they may be assumed to be unreliable if they don’t live close enough. I was once asked to hire sales representatives for a retail shop, and I was told specifically to “only” focus on applicants who lived within a few miles of the store location. The manager was convinced that the reps had to live close to the business because he believed a commute meant they would show up late every day.

If you find that you’re not receiving interview requests for positions considered to be “far away,” you might want to consider removing your address from your resume. You are not physically mailing in your application, so it is not an essential part to your resume. Removing your address might prevent this initial screening and at least get you to the phone interview where you can then “sell yourself” further.

Remember to keep these ideas in mind – you want to give yourself the best shot possible every time!

5 Ways To Help Your Resume Pass Through Automated Recruiting Software

Recruiting software and applicant tracking systems are increasingly used by employers to pre-screen job candidates’ resumes. While these programs save invaluable time for hiring managers and recruiters, they are also flawed and error-prone, sometimes even eliminating excellent job candidates from consideration.

To ensure that your professional resume isn’t mistakenly thrown out, follow these 5 easy steps.

Don’t use fancy formatting or fonts on your resume.

Applicant tracking systems typically misread tables and graphics you put on your resume, so while it may look creative and unique, unfortunately any valuable information you have will be lost. To avoid this from happening, it’s best to use a simple format with easily identifiable headings. Sending your resume as a PDF document can also make it more difficult for applicant tracking systems to read, so try sending or posting them as a Word document.

Identify industry and job specific keywords.

Look at job postings in your industry to find keywords, such as desired skills and experiences employers are looking for in job candidates. Try using as many as you can throughout your resume, in a legitimate way. Experts actually say the length of your resume doesn’t matter to these software programs, so it’s useful to make your resume longer to make it more detailed.

Vary the terms you use on your resume.

While some recruiting software is advanced enough to recognize variations of words that mean the same thing, it’s still good to vary the way you detail your skills and experiences. For example, if you were a “grant writer” it may also be a good idea to say you “wrote proposals” or “procured funding.” This will ensure that regardless of how an employer searches for a particular keyword, your resume shows up as a match.

Emphasize relevant accomplishments.

If your resume does make it past the recruiting software systems, chances are hiring managers will only spend about 10 seconds scanning your resume to size up your experiences. The more detailed accomplishments you can emphasize with your past experiences, the better your chances will be of getting called for an interview.

Follow-up with a phone call or mail a hard copy of your resume.

There are actually few job candidates that follow up a job application with a phone call or copy of their resumes. Unless a job posting specifically requests applicants not to call, this can be a good opportunity to ask the hiring coordinator or HR manager if they’ve received your documents and what the next steps are. You can also mail in a hard copy of your resume, stating that this is your second submission and that you’re very interested in the position. Following up can help job candidates stand out amongst the large number of applicants.

Top 10 Resume Mistakes

  1. Resume Killers

My philosophy is simple: Stick to the facts. If in doubt, leave it out!

  1. Abbreviations

Avoid abbreviations! They are unprofessional and not universally accepted. Trust me; nothing looks worse on a resume than seeing sentences resembling the following: “duties included answering the phone and going 2 c clients.” This is a resume, not a text message. Make sure you use correct words and proper sentences.

  1. Personal Information

Leave off anything related to hobbies or personal interests. If it doesn’t relate to employment it doesn’t belong on a resume. Information such as weight and height is irrelevant (unless of course you’re trying out for basketball team). I have seen resumes where people include their eye color and comments about their skin (“glowing skin”). Do not give the reader a reason to eliminate you because of your personal characteristics. Again, stick to the formula – if it does not relate to the job it doesn’t belong on the resume.

  1. Graphics / Artwork

People feel that in order to be noticed they need their resume to look like a piece of artwork. This perception is wrong and has the opposite effect of appearing unprofessional and amateur. At the end of the day, the employer only wants to see skills, duties, and achievements. He or she is not interested because your resume is shaded yellow with a butterfly in the top right-hand corner.

  1. Negativity

Never, never, never be negative on your resume or cover letter (and most importantly, in your interview). If you left your previous job because you hated your boss, keep it to yourself. Do not try to explain this on your resume because you cannot explain those reasons in writing. Remember, a resume’s job is to promote and sell. Do not get eliminated immediately for being negative.

  1. No Dates

DO NOT MAKE THE READER HAVE TO GUESS! This is such a killer on any resume. INCLUDE DATES. What years did you go to high school? How long did you go to university? When did you graduate? How long did you work at your current job?

Do not make the person reading your resume have to ask these questions. The minute this happens, your resume is going to one place—the trash bin! Make sure your resume flows and you have no gaps in your dates. If you took a year off to go travelling, include this. When you include dates DO NOT just include years. For example, “I worked at McDonalds from 2006-2008”– what does this mean? Did you work for 3 from January 2006 to December 2008, or for a little over 1 year from December 2006 to January 2008.

  1. Long-winded

Long long long long long resumes are boring!!!! If an employer sees an extremely long resume, they will immediately develop a negative frame of mind. Remember, resume readers tend to have little patience, especially when they need to read 100 resumes. You do not gain extra brownie points for writing the longest resume—enough said!

  1. Lack of achievements / highlights

I never understand how people get this wrong, but so many times people fill up their resumes with irrelevant information, and they leave off the most vital part of a resume—showing off your highlights and achievements. Think about it—most people who apply for the same job can all do the standard day to day duties. So what separates the good resume from the bad resume? It’s the one that includes achievements and highlights. It includes how they were an asset at their previous job. Employers want to see not that you just worked and did a good job, but that you added value to the company. Leaving off your achievements is the best way to get your resume tossed in the bin. Alternatively, including value-added achievements is the best way to get your resume put on the top of the list.

  1. Irrelevant information

Everyone is proud of achievements they have accomplished throughout their life. Finishing second place in the 100 meter sprint final in my first year of high school was a great thrill, but is it relevant on my resume? Does it add value to it? Use common sense when including “extra information.” Receiving your CPR certificate is relevant when you’re applying for a job that requires this, such as a lifesaver or swimming instructor. It isn’t so relevant if you received your CPR certificate 10 years ago, and now you’re going for a job as a CEO.

  1. Grammar mistakes and typos

People read this point and think, “Obviously my resume isn’t going to have spelling mistakes and typos.” I can tell you from experience that 1 in 5 resumes will make this vital mistake. When an employer has 100 resumes, the first 20 are eliminated because of grammar mistakes or typos. These mistakes are glaringly obvious on a resume. Make sure you use spell-check, but more importantly, re-read your resume. Even give it to someone else to read over.

You may think that using words such as “meticulous,” “scrupulous” or “industrious” to describe yourself may make you sound smart, unfortunately they can have the opposite effect. Your resume is a representation of you. Don’t forget this!

Evil Resume Templates

Do a simple search in Google for “Resume Templates” and you will soon find that there are literally thousands of templates that you can copy and use. There are even many companies that sell these exact resume templates online. As a resume writing specialist, and someone who has worked alongside multinational companies in relation to hiring and candidate selection, I can tell you that not only can I spot a resume template from a mile away, but more importantly it is the first impression I make about the job candidate based on their template.

In the current competitive job environment, I can tell you that it takes a lot more than using a generic resume template found on Google to impress me. If you have found and downloaded the template imagine, how many people before you have used the exact same one? Anyone who tells you that a “one size fits all” resume will work for you is wrong and is doing you a massive disfavor.

How should I approach my resume writing?

As a job seeker, you need to promote the skills and achievements that make you unique. As each job seeker is different, there is no formula to follow that will be the same for every person. For example, an entry level candidate or recent graduate will structure their resume completely differently to a senior professional or executive. A graduate with limited work experience needs to highlight their education, university associations, memberships and internships. This type of information needs to appear on page 1 of the resume to capture the reader’s attention as soon as they open your resume. Although you may have worked in retail or hospitality throughout your degree this information while important, is secondary to your educational information.

An executive resume is completely the opposite. Your education is not as important as your work experience. Executive resume writing is highlighting not just your tangible skills but must include your non tangible skills, such as being a good leader and mentor. As past behavior is the best indicator of how you will perform in the future, the front page of an executive resume needs to emphasize key achievements. When a hiring manager opens up an executive resume you want them to think “look at all the great accomplishments this person has achieved.”

Final thought:

Most people don’t realize that before a hiring manager has opened your resume it may have already passed the first stage of the selection process by passing the “Recruiting Software” test. Due to the volume of resumes hiring managers and recruiters can receive; many organizations now use recruiting software to help eliminate and select first round candidates. The problem with software programs is that they often don’t read fancy resume templates. Graphics, tables, boxes, fancy font and colors can actually end up looking like one big mess to a computer program.

My advice is simple. Stay clear of resume templates. Most templates have been around for years and years and have been seen hundreds of times by hiring managers. If you want to stand out from the pack, you need to be unique and this all starts with your resume.


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