Red stick figure stands out from black figuresWe are all looking for the magical combination in a resume that will land us the job of our dreams.  The job market has been tough lately, so any cutting-edge information that can help us get our foot in the door is welcome information indeed.

There are a number of professional organizations that offer quality resume writing, but the truth is that there are many ways that you can update your existing resume in order to maximize your exposure while job searching.

If you’re a part of large employment databases like Monster or Workopolis, or if you have your resume posted on your LinkedIn profile, employers have the option of searching for suitable candidates by using a keyword search. While you may not always know what they are looking for, you can do your best in order to maximize the chances that you target a general keyword that is sure to get you noticed.

The best approach is to consult the actual job description when looking for keyword specificity. Computerized recruiting software looks for keywords that are contained within the actual description itself. For example, if the description says “good working knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite” then your resume should also include a similar phrase, such as “proficient in all computer programs including Microsoft Office Suite.”  Even if recruiters screen applications manually, they’ll be looking for these important skills and qualities in your resume.

That being said, you also want to ensure you don’t use keywords just because. The keywords in your resume need to match each job description. For example, if you’re applying for a communications position, don’t flood your resume with IT-related keywords. If you have some IT experience, great, but it’s all about what you need to emphasize according to what type of job you’re applying for.

Look over your resume and take note of how it’s worded.  If you use very complicated language or jargon that is too technical, your resume is less likely to get noticed.  The exception to this are jobs that require more intricate wording or specific phrases—for instance, a computer programming or graphic design job.  If you do not fall into those categories, stick with simple wording.

Just like when you’re having a conversation with someone and he/she uses a big word in every other word the person says, you begin to not only lose interest but think, “Is this person just showing off and trying to make him/herself sound smarter?” Avoid giving recruiters and HR pros the option of thinking this when looking at your resume. Believe me, they can spot a bluff.

Play around with phrases that are commonly used in all resumes. Edit sentences until they are original and fresh, as opposed to including phrases that can be perceived as generic and ordinary. Everyone says they’re a “hard worker,” “committed to excellence,” and can be “an asset to my employer.” You are not everyone; show the recruiter your uniqueness.

When going through your resume, take note of the sentence structure.  Are you making use of strong verbs and using feeling phrases?  For instance, you could say “responsible for 10 people” or you could enhance this by providing more details, like “headed up an award-winning marketing team comprised of 10 stellar employees.” The second phrase is more likely to get noticed by a recruiter or catch the eye of a hiring manager.

At all times, make sure that your resume is clear and concise and that it highlights your career achievements but also explains gaps in your employment. Also, it’s a good habit to make sure you have a third party edit and revise your resume. Oftentimes we miss errors when we’re not really looking for them.

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