Welcome to Recruiter Q&A, where we pose employment-related questions to the experts and share their answers! Have a question you’d like to ask? Leave it in the comments, and you might just see it in the next installment of Recruiter Q&A!
Today’s Question: You’ve heard all the generic resume advice a million times: Tailor your resume, keep it to a page, make it look nice, use numbers if you can, etc., etc., ad nauseam.
Today, we’d like to bring you some better, more useful advice to help you with your resume. So, we asked our network of experts: What are the best tips and insights you can share with our readers to help them make awesome resumes?
1. Incorporate the Right Keywords
Many job hunters are not aware of the fact that most resumes are now scanned into databases before they are ever seen by real people. In order to find their ideal candidates, recruiters use keywords to search for individuals who have relevant skill sets.
Your resume needs to include the keywords that recruiters are likely to use in their searches. To figure out what these keywords are, analyze several job postings in your field. Develop a list of commonly used keywords from these postings, and then incorporate those keywords into your resume under the “core competencies” section.
Having thee right terms on your resume increases the chances of your resume being selected for further review.
— Cheryl E. Palmer, Call to Career
2. Focus on Results, Not Responsibilities
The most effective resumes contain information related to results. Saying you’ve designed a successful benefits program is vague. Saying that you’ve designed a benefits program that saved the company $1.5 million over three years while maintaining a 90 percent employee approval rating tells me that you are as strategic as you are tactical. A sales resume indicating several years of sales experience is okay, but as we know, it could have been one year of bad sales experience repeated several times. I need to know what you accomplished and how you contributed to the company’s bottom line.
— Trish O’Brien, Caliper
3. Skip the Microsoft Word Templates
At new student orientation, I often ask the students who have template resumes to raise their hands. When they do, I tell them, “Great, now throw it out!”
The ease and speed with which you can create a template version of your resume is a great indication of the lack of quality of such a resume. Even worse, hiring managers see dozens of template resumes even day, so even if you include great content on your resume, chances are it will not stand out. Everything of value takes time to accomplish. There are some excellent books and resources that can help you create a winning resume that is original, authentic, and reflective of your personal brand. I recommend Knock ‘em Dead Resumes by Martin Yate.
— Chaim Shapiro, Touro College
4. Know What to Include — and What Not to
The most common question I get is some variation of, “Should I put this on my resume?” or “Should I remove this from my resume?” I have a three-pronged philosophy when it comes to what to include on your resume. If you can make an item – be it academic, professional, philanthropic, or otherwise – relevant, valuable, and visually comfortable, then you’ve got a pretty good case for including it in your document.
If an experience is not directly related to what you’re applying for, can you make it relevant by discussing pertinent skills? Even if you are listing a job that is directly related, are you making it valuable by discussing how well you did that job and backing up with numbers? If you have a relevant and valuable experience, are you organizing it in a visually comfortable way that is easy to skim?
— Mashaal Ahmed, DC Career Coach
5. Look Forward
The fundamental problem with resumes is that they look backward, not forward.
Use these questions to create a resume to get where you want to go:
1. What kind of opportunities do you want? Your resume needs to be a sales tool to attract those opportunities.
2. What are the key factors for success in your desired job? What do you need to demonstrate to be competitive?
3. What specific skills and accomplishments can you highlight to prove your readiness to succeed?
For many job seekers, preparing a resume is a painful process. They fret about reciting past job successes and anguish over failures. If you hit writer’s block, ask a coworker, colleague, family member, or friend to listen to you as you answer these questions and take notes for you. Get feedback about whether your responses are convincing and what you can do to strengthen them.
— Don Maruska, Take Charge of Your Talent
6. Replace ‘Objectives’ With ‘Summaries’
One of the biggest mistakes we see – and one that can be easily corrected – is the use of an objective statement. Objective statements are about the author and not about how they can solve the employer’s problem or the value they can bring – which is exactly what the potential employer needs to hear to hire them!
Our tip is to instead craft a professional summary or qualifications section that:
- Provides your strengths and what makes you unique.
- Highlights your skills and experience.
- Provides a benefit to the employer.
- Outlines your personal brand.
— Dawn Ohaver Moyer & Jenny Casagrande, Potential Essential