Resume Checklist 101: 9 Key Tips for Creating an Interview-Generating Resume
by Justin Tyler
Resumes are made to get you the interview.
Resumes are displayed to help you get the attention of the recruiter and hiring manager.
Resumes are a vehicle to translate your professional value into a better opportunity.
However, a resume that does not follow some of the recommended standards can prove disappointing for the job seeker because job searches consume much time and energy. Without cross-referencing to make sure that your resume is ready, it will prove difficult to beat the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) or differentiate yourself in a pile of 250+ other job applicants, on average. Considering the overcast clouds of COVID-19, the job market and chances for employability are more murky because of the ramifications of the virus to business.
Thus, as a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), it is utterly responsible of me to share my top tips for developing a resume that will land you the interview.
#1 State Your Position Through Your Resume Summary
How do you explain who you are to an employer? What is your resume “elevator pitch?” This opening statement possesses power beyond belief because this is your first chance to grab the attention of your audience.
Ensure that your Resume Summary has prominent keywords, phrases and acronyms from the employer’s job description, lists your top achievement(s) and skills and encompasses language that uniquely qualifies you for the role that you are targeting.
For example, review this small snippet below of an effective resume Summary:
“High performing and persistent software consultant with 12 years’ experience driving high volume sales and developing new business. From 2016–2018, ranked #1 in strategic profit and #1 in highest revenue generated in Hilti North America…”
#2 Bold, Italicize and Underline
One of the savvy tricks of the seasoned resume writer is to subtly bring attention to achievement statements and areas of importance. Just imagine the myriad resumes and cover letters that a recruiter skims (not reads) on a daily basis. After some time, everything can start looking the same.
Therefore, it is absolutely essential for the job seeker to write his/her resume and cover letter with the employer’s job description/position in mind. As you read the job description, identify and incorporate the most important and frequently used keywords, phrases and acronyms that are synonymous with the employer and the industry.
As you are drafting your skills, knowledge, competencies, responsibilities and achievements, bold, italicize or underline the role’s keywords, buzzwords and key phrases. These actions will bring attention to grab the recruiter’s attention to show how you match the employer’s needs.
For example, keywords for sales professionals can include: consultation, marketing, business, management, negotiation, communication, Salesforce, etc.
#3 Highlight Your Accomplishments
Are you a “do-er” or an achiever? That is the question!
Emphatically, the answer should be an achiever. What is the point of writing your job responsibilities without showing the value of what you have accomplished in your career? Achievements, whether qualitative or quantifiable, make you stand out from the crowd while helping recruiters predict your future fit and success at their organization.
Think about when you saved your employer money. Perhaps, you have saved time by improving the efficiency of a process. Maybe you have won an award recently. What is your sales ranking at the company? Did you improve profitability? Were you formally recognized for something that you have accomplished? Lastly, have any of your subordinates achieved, too? If so, how?
As you can see, listing accomplishments and increasing your professional value can be sourced from many areas.
#4 Structure Your Accomplishments Strategically
There are several ways that you can list your achievements.
First, you can introduce a powerful and relevant accomplishment(s) in your Resume Summary section. For reference, please review Tip #1 (“State Your Position Through Resume Summary”) to see an example of how to weave an outstanding accomplishment in this section.
Second, after writing your Resume Summary and listing your top skills/competencies in bullet-point format (hopefully they are keyword and database optimized), add a section called “Value Added Impact” where you list 2–3 strong achievements that catch the attention of recruiters.
VALUE ADDED IMPACT
· Recipient of President’s Club Award for Sales Excellence; ranked top 1% in company sales nationwide at Tobacco Road Distribution
· Achievement #2
· Achievement #3
Job Title │ DEF COMPANY │ MM/YY — MM/YY
· Job duty #1
· Job duty #2
· Job duty #3
· Job duty #4
· Accomplishment #1
· Accomplishment #2
· Accomplishment #3
Lastly, don’t forget to place your accomplishments under each position that you have held. While it is good to have a “Value Added Impact” section as a summative snapshot of your career achievements, it does not display the full array of your accomplishments under specific jobs. Ideally, recruiters and hiring managers want to clearly see where and how you achieved on your resume.
Overall, the key is to entice the recruiter to continue reading your resume with more excitement and discover more job-specific accomplishments for positions you have held in recent years.
Sometimes, the tendency can be to utilize a bevy of acronyms, industry jargon and fancy words to promote your value. However, it is better to keep it simple and explain your experience and performance in a clear, concise manner. If your message lacks clarity, recruiters will most likely not call you to get an explanation. Merely, your resume will be placed in the “maybe” or “no” pile based on the quality of applicants for the position.
In summary, explain your experience and performance as if you were speaking to someone new in your field or industry.
#6 Stay Away from Lengthy Paragraphs
Remember this: Hiring managers and recruiters skim resumes; they don’t read resumes.
Leave the job responsibility tales and explanations for the cover letter. Resumes are the home for clear and concise statements, especially if the information is structured in bullet-point format.
Keep your information in a format that is easy to comprehend for recruiters and hiring managers.
#7 Even Dates Matter
Discussing dates of employment on your resume may seem like a small issue, but it’s what you are not saying that counts.
For instance, to hide gaps of unemployment, one clever trick is to only include the years worked instead of the traditional “MM/YY” or “Month/Year” format. In fact, this omission may heighten a recruiter’s skepticism because the candidate is not being fully transparent with exact months.
If there is truly a gap of unemployment, then you should prepare to discuss this in your interview and to address it in more detail in your cover letter. Also, you should be up front and briefly explain the employment gap in your resume.
February 2016 — June 2017
My employer underwent a restructuring and I was subsequently laid off. I decided to pursue my graduate degree in Human Resources Management to acquire the knowledge and theory necessary for this field.
#8 Wait…, Are You Actually Qualified?
It is imperative to review the job description and to be honest with yourself about your career experience and KSAs (knowledge, skills and abilities) matching closely to the employer’s list of qualifications.
For instance, as a former recruiter, it would baffle me to see a candidate apply for a HR Manager role (with 2 years’ experience and no PHR/SHRM certification) when the position’s qualifications clearly state 5+ years’ experience with PHR/SHRM certification required.
If you do not have the prerequisite skill(s) or experience needed, then angle yourself to work on projects or teams at your current job to gain the skills and experience necessary to be a better candidate for future opportunities.
#9 It’s a Numbers Game
If possible, quantifying your achievements helps your resume stand out, provides a clear understanding of your impact and is more aligned to how recruiters interpret your performance as they skim your resume.
Speak the language of the recruiter! Quantify such areas as revenue, profitability, cost containment, percentage increases or decreases, number of employees or unit numbers of months, weeks, days, and hours to immediately show numerical value.
“Increased customer retention outcomes by 38% in 9 months through rigorous customer service training and corrective action planning.”
Remember, numbers, statistics and percentages stand out in a crowd of words.
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