Even with the job market heating up, your resume can still make or break you. Long gone are the days when you could simply write an objective and list your experience in chronological order and sit back and wait for the hiring manager to call you. These days you need to tell a story with your resume and be able to showcase how you can solve the problem you’re potential job is aiming to fix.
“The number one strategy at any stage of a job search is to do research on the company and its needs,” says Anne Messenger, president of Career Management Pros. “Why? Because having this information makes a candidate more competitive.”
When it comes to crafting a resume that will get the attention of hiring managers there are some key ingredients it’s going to have to include. From communicating how you can help to quantifying your accomplishments, here’s a look at five ways to ensure your resume doesn’t land at the bottom of the heap.
1. Know the company’s pain points
The reason companies look to hire people is to address issues or problems within a business. For instance, they may be looking to hire a sales person because the current team has underperformed or they need a new marketing strategist to get their story across. One way to make your resume standout, says Messenger, is to understand the problem and focus on how you’re experience and accomplishments will lend a helping hand. While this is going to take more research than just reading the job posting, it will certainly go a long way in making you stand out. “The more appealing the job, the deeper the research should be,” says Messenger.
2. Provide enough space for accomplishments
Often job seekers will make the mistake of listing their duties as part of their experience but they fail to show how those duties helped the company. Rather than including a bullet list showing all of your job duties, you have to provide quantifiable examples of how your duties actually aided the company, says Terry Pile, Principal Consultant of Career Advisors. “Instead of saying, ‘Answered phones’ you might say ‘Answered up to six phone lines and fielded as many as 60 calls per day,’” says Pile. For someone in sales it’s not enough to say you were a top performer. A much better way to get your accomplishments across on a resume is to say you helped boost revenue by x percent.
3. Spell it out for the hiring manager or resume reader
One of the worst things you can do with a resume is assume the person reading it can connect all the dots to get a sense of your experience and skills. Hiring managers are busy and if they have to scour your resume to get a picture of you chances are they will quickly move on to the next resume. “Never ever expect him or her to read between the lines,” says Messenger. Pile says it’s a good idea to make sure you are connecting your experience to the job you are applying for. That means getting rid of or minimizing jobs on your resume that aren’t relevant.
4. Tell them what you are good at early on
Employers typically prefer resumes that are in chronological order because they are easier to read. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a skill section high up on your resume that showcases what you are good at, says Joe Rosenbaum, VP of HR for Argyle Executive Forum. That section should include all the skills and competencies you have amassed throughout your career. Even if you are just starting out, you can still use the section to list skills you think will be relevant for the job position. “The fact that you know what you’re good at and feel comfortable saying so tells me that you take your career seriously,” he says.
5. Work the applicant tracking system
These days many companies will use applicant tracking systems to scan resumes for the proper key words. If you don’t use those key words, chances are you resume won’t get through the initial screening. Because of that, Pile says to use language from the job posting as much as possible in your resume. The trick is to do it in a way where it looks natural. You don’t want it to appear like a cut and paste job, says Pile. But at the same time you don’t want to miss out because of a lack of keywords.