Dozens of resumes land at the recruiter’s desk every day. Studies show six seconds is all they have before they decide if you are a good fit for the job. Put differently, you only have six seconds to grab their attention.
How does one do that? That’s what I asked myself too and figured now would just be right the time to learn and unlearn how to fix up a resume. That includes things that would make a resume boring and a candidate for the “No” bin. It may sound like a challenge, but the great news is it can be done.
You’ll want to tweak and polish it up, clean up what’s not needed, and update it to the recruiter’s expectations; generally, make it stand out from the crowd such that it will quickly pique a prospect’s interest.
Now, here’s how to make your resume better.
First Impression Matters
You’ve probably heard the saying “a picture is worth a 1,000 words.” Your picture, in this case, is the headline and summary.
First impressions will be made in the first few seconds. Your successes, expertise, experience, and professional abilities need to be clear to the recruiter. Here’s an example:
Digital Marketing Specialist With Expertise In Social Media Management and Email Marketing.
Digital marketing specialist with a combined 10 years of experience in managing social media accounts for major brands and creating regular email marketing campaigns.
Looking modern begins with the font. Forget Times New Roman. For some reason, recruiters nowadays just loathe it.
That aside, resume coaches advise against small fonts and bullets because they tend to be an eye strain after a while and recruiters will easily use that as a reason to eliminate your resume.
Basically, avoid anything that looks too difficult to read quickly. Opt for easily readable modern fonts like Arial, Helvetica, Garamond, and Cambria, then see to it that there’s plenty of white space as well and the margins aren’t stretched to the limit.
Errors! Errors! Errors!
No doubt this is obvious, but lots of recruiters admit that such errors just don’t seem to be going away. Remember, their desks are ever full of resumes and when they begin to sieve them, a simple typo, spacing error, punctuation mistake, or misspelling could land you into that dreaded bin.
So, have someone relook at your resume with a tooth comb. Actually, have several people do that for you, one to focus on spelling, the other on spacing, another one at spellings, and so on.
Match It To Your LinkedIn Profile
It’s an era of fake job references and employers aren’t leaving anything to chance. They will look you up on platforms like LinkedIn and even social media just to confirm that your resume matches whatever appears in these places. Your past experiences, connections, referees, achievements, etc. will all be assessed this way.
What To Include
Employers expect to see specific things on your resume. Most are the obvious items you know, but that’s not where it ends. All these tips on how to improve your resume add value to it, so even as you take note, don’t forget to go the extra mile that will set you apart from the rest of the applicants.
So, here’s what to include:
1. Name, Title, And Contact Details (If possible, add a link to your LinkedIn profile)
Let this be the first section. Delete irrelevant data like marital status, religion, birth date, etc. In countries like the US, it’s actually illegal for an employer to consider such information when assessing your job application.
2. Personal Profile
This is a brief paragraph next to your name and contact details that tells your potential boss who you are, what you do, and are all about.
3. Experience And Employment History
Here’s where you talk about your previous jobs and work experience. Include your job title, period worked, employer, and a summary of your duties. Do it all in reverse chronological order. Remember to describe your achievements as well.
4. Education And Qualifications
Name the institutions you attended as part of your training for the job. Follow this up with the dates and qualifications you got.
You can also add a skill section. Break it up if possible so you have a variety of them. Make sure they are relevant and up to date.
One more thing: Customize every resume for every role you apply. Avoid the generic resume trick. Also, take note of the keywords in the vacancy post, then match them to those in your resume.
Add A Pain Letter
Not too long ago, you would create your terrific resume then have a cover letter to accompany it. The latter’s role was to capture the recruiter’s attention and add context to your resume. You wanted to lay that foundation for persuading your potential boss to hire.
But cover letters no longer do the magic. Employers want more, and pain letters have stepped in to save the day. Most recruiters admit that they no longer look at cover letters; they simply shove it down a recruiting pit that’s similar to a black hole. So, that feedback you wait for patiently may never come.
But a pain letter takes a different path. It focuses on the employer’s “pain.” That is, an issue giving the employer sleepless nights and then presents you as the much-needed solution.
That’s exactly what you will want to accompany your resume. Spare some time to learn how to write it. Do it well and you can be sure to be ahead of the game. The rest of your competitors will simply play catch up.
Learning how to make a better resume is now a more challenging and involving task than what you knew a few years ago. A lot has changed in the job marketplace and recruiters are quickly adapting. That warm interactive process that would take place in an office to assess your candidacy has been left to automated talent-repelling systems.
Cover letters have become toothless dogs. To survive as a job seeker, begin by learning everything there is about how to make your resume better. Go the extra mile and remember to keep in mind all that we’ve just discussed.
All the best!