A resume must be strategically positioned, formatted, and written. It is your marketing tool and it is the most important part of your job search. The requirements of today’s resumes aren’t the same as they’ve always been. Resumes are continually evolving and have significantly changed over the last several years.
The traditional resume that most people are familiar with and that many teachers and college professors still promote using is history. Objective statements are extinct and normal job descriptions won’t cut it. You can’t just pull a cookie cutter template from the internet, fill in the blanks, and send it out. The basics of today’s resume consist of a strong format, a headline, a strong summary, core competency list, your professional experience, your education, and any affiliations, training, certifications, or volunteer activities – but that’s just the basics.
What’s a headline? And a summary? Of what?
The headline should be the first text after your name, address, phone number, and email address. It should be a concise description of what you can offer the company or a snapshot of your achievements related to the position (the headline can be modified for each position). An example of a headline is “Highly accomplished professional, recognized for driving profitable sales growth throughout multiple business units.”
Your summary should be roughly four shorter sentences which briefly describe your key strengths, abilities, and skills. The summary should typically be followed up by a core competency list, consisting of an average of 9 bullets (3 in each column). Each bullet should describe a skill (i.e.: Strong Relationship Building Skills).
What are keywords and where do they go?
Employers are using Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), better known to job seekers as ‘keyword’ or ‘buzzword’ scanners. When these systems are used, your resume will first go through the ATS to scan for keywords. If your resume does not have these keywords, it will not be seen. Due to the number of people applying for each job, employers use these systems to weed out candidates. The system is the gatekeeper. You will not know the keywords in advance, but common keywords are achievement-based words (implemented, maximized, developed, created, streamlined, etc.) and words related to your job field. Most job postings have keywords right in them – if you have those skills, make it known.
Make sure you integrate the keywords into the resume (within job descriptions, the summary, and your core competency list). Properly place your keywords so that your resume reads and flows naturally.
Avoid using first or third person references within your resume. Using the words “I”, “me”, “my”, “we”, etc., or referring to yourself in the third person will have a negative impact on your resume (and your job search). Instead, use self-describing adjectives for your summary and use descriptive and achievement-based words when describing your positions.
But my resume has to be one page!
No, your resume does not have to be limited to one page. The “a resume has to be one page” story is a fictional account of reality. Don’t get me wrong – many people will have a one page resume, but your resume is not limited to just a single sheet of paper. If you have a strong work history and achievements, a two page resume will almost always be more effective. Leaving duties, achievements, and skills out that are pertinent to your career field and your individual background will be detrimental to your job hunt. Don’t undermine your talents by limiting yourself to only one page. In most cases, I don’t recommend going over two pages, but two pages are enough for most people.
You have something unique to offer a company, but if you don’t show it, how do you expect them to know? Present yourself in the most honest and compelling way possible and show the value that you can bring to their company. Remember, you only have a few seconds to make an impression. Landing a job is 70% presentation and 30% skills and abilities – if you don’t present yourself properly, those skills and abilities mean nothing because they won’t be seen. If you are having trouble, consult a professional.
Don’t be discouraged by the economic news and don’t get impatient when your phone isn’t ringing after the first resume you send – it’s common. Keep applying. There is a very slim chance that you will land the first job that you apply to, but if you dedicate yourself to your job search, you will find the job that you need and deserve.
Marissa Letendre is the owner of Resumes by Marissa. She is a professional resume writer and job search strategist, as well as a former Human Resources Manager.
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Category: Personal Branding