Career Advice

Ask a Resume Writer: How Do I Make My Resume More Competitive?

“I have a good work history, no red flags….why isn’t my resume landing me interviews?”

It’s frustrating, and a knock on the ego, to enter the job search market and not get the attention you need. Money’s running out, and you begin to doubt yourself: Am I setting  my sights too high? The answer to that question is usually a resounding “No!”

Think of your resume as the trailer for an amazing movie (YOU). Re-cut the trailer, give audiences (a.k.a. employers) what they want, and reap the rewards, which will be more interviews than you can handle.  

Here are 3 areas to focus on:

1. Personal brand

Employers want to know the value that you’re bringing to the table. You can speak directly to this by way of a personal branding statement, a few sentences and/or bullets long, at the start of the resume.

Ask yourself, “What qualities have allowed me to make a difference in profitability, growth, efficiency, culture, and everything in between at the companies I’ve worked with?” Maybe you’re gifted in building and leveraging relationships. Maybe the prospect of turning around at-risk projects and finding order in chaos excites you. Jot down a list of 3-5 key qualities and skills.

[Related: 5 Steps to Build Your Personal Brand]

Craft a few sentences which crystallize your brand, and insert right at the start of the resume. Here are some examples of effective opening sentences:

For a Senior Marketing Executive: Luxury Retail Marketing expert who can deploy cutting-edge strategies to generate awareness, double-digit profitability gains, and cross-channel cohesion.

For a Director of Technology: Driving Growth through Solutions Leadership across Internet-of-Things (IoT) Business Process Management, and Digital Transformation.

For a Chief Physician Executive: Board Certified Healthcare Leader who brings 3 decades of clinical and administrative expertise in the U.S., UK, and UAE.

2. Accomplishments

Accomplishments are currency when it comes to resumes. The more you have, and the more applicable they are to the job you want, the greater your perceived worth. This can have a big impact not just on whether you receive an interview, but how much you’re ultimately offered.

[Related: Confessions of an HR Recruiter: You Need A Resume Overhaul]

Front-load the accomplishment, then describe how it was achieved. For example, “Improved customer satisfaction 30% within 9 months through re-engineering support processes and introducing new training materials to staff.”

Also, numbers speak for themselves. If you’re unsure about how much revenue that new product launch generated or how much money that renegotiated contract saved, call up a colleague or former boss to see if they can help. Otherwise, it’s fine to honestly ballpark it.

3. Keywords

The first scan of your resume, performed either by an actual person or an Applicant Tracking System, will benefit greatly by having in-demand keywords integrated. Most people try to guess at the right keywords by looking through job postings. Here’s a better way:

Run a search for people who currently have the job you want. For example, if you want to land a Director of Marketing position, you can search using that term and further refine results in areas such as location and industry.

Take a close look at the “Skills & Endorsements” section of the most visible people in your niche- this is the “secret sauce” of great keywords. Jot down all of the ones which you possess and include them within a “Core Competencies” section of the resume. While you’re at it, add them to your network too!

Anish Majumdar, CEO of ResumeOrbit.com is a nationally recognized executive resume writer, LinkedIn expert, and interview coach.

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