Let’s face it, not every job description has a realistic “requirements” section. In most cases, employers use the this section to list off every skill they’d like the perfect candidate to have or every experience they think might be relevant to the job they’re attempting to fill. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply just because you don’t meet every requirement.
For job seekers missing some of the “recommended” skills or “preferred” experience, it’s more important than ever to make your resume stand out. This can be especially challenging when you take into account that, according to TheLadders 2012 recruiter eye tracking study, the average recruiter spends only six seconds making a decision about your resume.
Here are four resume writing strategies that will help you make your resume stand out, even if you don’t have every skill the employer is looking for:
1. Use statistics to show your accomplishments.
Statistics are a visually-appealing way to convey a large amount of information concisely. Cut down on the amount of information a recruiter has to read by turning lengthy bullets into statistic-driven impact statements.
For example, instead of “Created content for client marketing initiatives that increased company blog engagement” using statistics like “Created 8-9 original pieces of content per month” or “Increased blog engagement by 30% in 2014” to show the value your work produces.
2. Make the experience you have matter.
If you think you’re qualified for the job but don’t have “five years of experience” like the employer is looking for, it’s not the end of the world. Take a look at the experiences you do have, and find ways to apply it to the position in question.
If you can show the recruiter — despite not having the requisite “years of experience” — that you can apply what you’ve already learned to the job that’s listed, you’ll be one step closer to landing an interview.
3. You don’t have to be an expert to list something as a skill.
It’s a no-brainer that you list the things you’re good at on your resume, but it’s OK to list things you’re still learning, too. Listing systems about which you have a basic understanding or skills you are moderately proficient in can help you stay out of a recruiter’s trash pile, especially if they complement skills the employer seeks.
Obviously, lying on your resume is a big no-no, but don’t be afraid to list things like Excel or Photoshop as skills if you know the basics and can refresh or fill in your knowledge gaps as needed.
4. Make sure your work history is relevant.
If you’re like most Americans, you’ve probably held a number of positions in your professional career, but that doesn’t mean each one is equally important to recruiters. When you’re listing your job history, make sure to put emphasis on the jobs most likely to impact the recruiters decisions about you.
For example, if you’re applying for a mid-level job in PR, your time as a paralegal during college is probably not as important as the three years you spent as an account executive at that boutique PR firm. Don’t leave the paralegal job off your resume, but be sure to minimize the amount of space you dedicate to your duties in that role, unless you can draw meaningful parallels (remember strategy #2?).
For each position, take the time to think about how your previous roles will reflect your value to a recruiter and emphasize those that will make the most impact.
Have you been successful using any of these strategies to stand out for recruiters? What other strategies do you use to make your resume stand out?