Your resume serves as your first impression to your potential employers. No, not your job interview or even your cover letter. The resume is a simple yet comprehensive document that allows companies and staffing agencies to get to know you immediately and see if you are the right fit for the open positions. That is why there is a need for your resume to not only be well-written but also have that “IT factor” that will make it stand out among others.
Attempting to distinguish yourself from other candidates is a gargantuan task already on its own. But remember: you are battling it out against droves and droves of applicants who may have the same educational background or skills as you. Some might even think it’s the luck of the draw, and sadly, Lady Luck isn’t smiling all the time.
So, don’t let just mere luck decide for you if the job post is yours or not. Here are ways to make your resume pop and grab the attention of your potential recruiter. Even if many applicants may have the same competencies as you do, you have the power to create a resume that spells “professional” through and through. So, get going, and start with a perfectly-composed resume.
1. Your resume’s length and layout matter!
It’s tempting to put everything on your resume, thinking that these bits and morsels of information might be what your employer is looking for. But the truth is recruiters don’t really read a resume in its entirety anymore. For human resources staff who have to handle piles of resumes, many just glances at the first page, decide if they like what they see, and push your resume to the next application step or for filing as part of a talent pool.
Another reason recruiters don’t read resumes anymore is because of applicant tracking systems or ATS. These programs do the scanning for employers, and they only look for specific keywords in your resume. Resumes with stuffed keywords are usually the ones that don’t get the chop.
There is a way around that system. Whether it’s a hiring manager skimming through your resume or an ATS, you can play with their methodologies and put your resume up in front. There is a plethora of tips on how to make your resume concise and light to look at, like these ones:
- Most resumes should be between one and two pages long. Since you now know that recruiters don’t spend much reading your resume, make it as concise as possible. This means limiting your resume’s content to only those relevant to the position you are applying for.
- Make the first half of your resume content-heavy. By this, we mean putting condensed information about your goal for submitting your resume. Aside from your name and contact details, write a short paragraph on the job role you are interested in and what skills and capabilities you possess that will make you the best candidate for the job. You can write something like this:A professional who is interested in positions that entail knowledge and skill in general app development, particularly in improving user interface design, such as with UX/UI. Also capable of creating apps that promote inclusivity to the differently-abled through assistive technologies.
Notice that this blurb has basically introduced who you are and your skill set, as an applicant and as a professional, to your potential recruiter. Take note that this short paragraph is heavy with jargon that acts as keywords. These keywords are hot in the eyes of both an ATS and an employer. Through this short string of words, you are already shaking the employer’s hand, saying, “Nice to meet you.”
- Limit bullet points to three to four at a time. When listing your past work, identify the top three or four responsibilities you have per job, and list them down in bullet form. If you put them in paragraph form, your recruiter will find it tedious to read.
- Use minimal design accents. There are many resume layouts out there to put some structure and visual appeal into your resume. But heed this warning: don’t embellish your resume too much. Clean lines and a dash of color here and there is enough because your content should stand out in itself.
2. Know what goes in and out of your resume.
Since you are trimming your resume to one or two pages, it’s important to decide which information to include and which ones to let go of. Here is a list of dos and don’ts regarding resume information.
Of course, the non-negotiables are:
- Contact information. Your email and contact number will do. Also, make sure to create a professional-sounding email, like perhaps your first name and surname combined.
- Educational background. What to include here would be your college education onwards. Your employer is more interested in your college degree than where you finished high school.
- Past jobs in the recent 15 years. Anything beyond 15 years may not be as relevant as now. Your employer might also be bored to death reading about your first job, which you’ve probably outgrown.
- Soft skills. With the changes in how work is done today in the context of technology and automation, soft skills are even more valuable in today’s labor market. Showcasing soft skills exponentially makes you more attractive to employers. In fact, 93% of employers say “soft skills play a critical role in their decision about whom they want to hire.
- Awards and distinctions relevant to your field. Best Research of the Year? Top Performing Agent? The Employee of the Month? It’s worth bragging about these accolades. Employers want top-tier workers, after all.
- Your LinkedIn account. Yes, you should have a LinkedIn account. It is the foremost means employers use to research their potential hires. Start with your LinkedIn profile now to boost your resume as a professional of the 21st century.
Now, let’s talk about things not to put in a resume:
- Your photo. In the US, strict anti-discrimination and labor laws require companies to prove that a person is hired based on competencies and capabilities and that no prejudice was included in the process. Not putting your photo will save you and your employer from biases during the application process.
- Hobbies and interests. These are fun details to share during an interview, but not in a resume. You’re taking away valuable space you could have used to introduce your skills.
3. Bring it all in with a few finishing touches through editing.
Remember to give your resume a few runs for proofreading. Grammarly and Microsoft Word’s spell check can help, but don’t simply rely on tech tools, as these are not foolproof. Instead, you can ask a friend to read it for you and tell them how they feel about your resume. Even if you are not applying for newspaper editor or content writer, spelling errors and wrong grammar turn a recruiter off.
Also, since conciseness is key for your resume, be on the lookout for filler words. “Like,” “very,” and “actually” are only a few examples of words you can omit, so sentences are more streamlined. The more concise your resume, the better. It will help your recruiters save time and possibly shorten the process between submitting your job application to your eventual job offer.
FOCUS CAN HELP YOU GET THAT DREAM JOB!
While these resume writing tips can help distinguish you from other applicants, the aid of a premier recruitment partner can also do wonders for your job search.
Focus’s team-based solid culture and commitment to integrity and success have made them the agency of choice for the past 28 years. We at Focus work hard to provide an atmosphere of encouragement to everyone we reach so that they will excel in their roles. Our commitment is to build partnerships with customers and constantly uncover and create opportunities for them.
Be part of our success story. Get that next job through Focus.