Things are looking slightly up in the economy and people are experiencing some guarded optimism. While for the last four to five years the employed have been clinging to their jobs for dear life, now comes the period where people begin to seriously consider moving. And it’s not just those folks who need help with their resumes. One out of every ten people are currently “un” or “under” employed.
When you’re looking for work, one of the best tools in your arsenal is your resume. On an episode of The Office, Pam Halpert’s character realized with a shock that her decade long tenure at Dunder Mifflin fit on something “the size of a post-it.” Many workers are finding their loyalty rewarded with the same harsh smack of reality.
Whether it’s long or short, experienced or green, here are five things to keep in mind when crafting a killer resume:
1. Humblebrag. Here in the Midwest, we are programmed to play down our achievements, and that might make a lot of friends, but since your resume is your one shot at creating interest in the mind of a future employer, go ahead and brag a little. List every accomplishment you can think of and include team-based awards and merit as well. Did you hit 100 percent of your quota every quarter? Write it down! Are you the most punctual employee in Operations? Spell that out too.
Your resume is more than a summary of your past experience. It’s a tool that can help propel your career growth—that is, if you highlight skills, language, and the context of the job you want, rather than regurgitating your past experience.
2. You got skills. Skills (along with job titles) are like the secret SEO language of resumes databases. So, unless you paid a pro to write it, scrap what you’ve got and start from scratch. List every skill you can think of and then some. From typing speed to specialized training courses; from certifications to the Microsoft Office Suite. You can always trim the list if it looks excessive or remedial but you can also go back to your skills database and customize each resume. You learned all that stuff, now use it.
Use these keywords early in the resume, and use them often (but don’t repeat sentences—use them in different contexts). For example, if a job description states the company is looking for people with knowledge of the recently passed “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” that phrase and its acronyms will be noticed and will give that resume priority in the automated system.
3. Video interviewing is on the rise and one reason might be that people hate to read. So do the exhausted recruiter a favor and bullet point your resume. Paragraphs appeal to a small demographic and it’s not people who’ve interviewed 10 people in a row. Use formatting (call in a design-savvy friend or even someone who has UX chops) to draw the eye’s attention to specific details on your resume. Tenure, job title, achievements: Whatever you want to highlight, use formatting to do so. One caveat: Don’t go all out for a fancy designer resume that comes in a PDF. Unless you are interviewing for a design job and you are including it as a part of your portfolio, people want—NAY NEED—a Word document. In other news, civilization is not that advanced.
4. Be yourself. If you have been looking for a job forever without much luck, that statement probably makes you want to punch me in the face. I get it. But truthfully, the buzzwords and standard fare will only get you through the automated ATS faster. When your resume finds its way to a real person, you better inject some personality into that sucker. Try to find things that are out of the ordinary but that you can still tie back to the gig you’re looking for:
Her resume looks a lot like any pastry chef’s resume with one surprising difference. Under personal accomplishments she wrote, “Won the 2007 St. Bernard Parish Pie Eating Contest.” It isn’t something you’d expect. She’s been asked about the contest on several interviews, which is the perfect time to tell the recruiter that she also baked all of the pies for the contest.
5. It must be pristine. Details are not my strong suit and the truth is, a lot of recruiters and HR pros probably make spelling and grammatical errors during their days too. But this is one area in which you are allowed no mercy. For some reason the system is set up to automatically chuck those who haven’t gone over their resume with a fine-tooth comb. Don’t rage against the machine, just figure out a way to make your resume as pristine as possible. Capiche?