Resumes are the stock-in-trade of job applications. Your prospects for receiving an interview call-up rest almost entirely on the quality of your resume.
Hiring managers will often have to process dozens or hundreds of applicants to fill an open position. Their time is severely limited and yet they would want to conclude the recruitment as soon as possible. Consequently, there’s little patience for mediocre resumes even though the candidate who sent it may otherwise be among the best suited for the role.
To get a prospective employer’s attention, make sure your resume is one that they enjoy reading to the extent that they look forward to having a conversation with you during an interview. Here’s a look at seven changes to your resume that will improve your odds of getting hired.
1. Proofread, Proofread, Proofread
Your resume is a marketing document. According to ResumeBuild, the leading resume maker tool, it must be perfectly flawless in spelling and grammar. The argument ‘To err is human’ does not apply here.
Most hiring managers will punish proofreading errors by disregarding the application immediately. Spelling and grammar errors are seen as a sign of carelessness, casualness, and indifference – attributes that no organization would want any of its employees to have.
Inspect for and eliminate any typos. Check and double-check your punctuation, spelling and word choice. If possible, have someone else do that, too, on your behalf.
2. Use Industry Acronyms, Keywords and Buzzwords
Hiring managers have been perusing countless applications long enough to recognize a cookie-cutter resume when they see one. A generic resume may feel like a convenient way to apply for numerous vacancies within a short duration. However, any advantage this provides is temporary. You’ll get a much lower interview rate than with targeted resumes.
Make each resume you send out the job – and industry-specific by using relevant industry acronyms, keywords, and jargon. This comes in especially handy if you are submitting your application through an applicant tracking platform, since the system may automatically eliminate or prioritize resumes based on the content.
Where do you get ideas for the right words? LinkedIn profiles for persons in a similar position, job ads for the same position, recent industry publications and industry workshops.
3. Quantify Accomplishments
Numbers will always get people to pay more attention. Statistics eliminate ambiguity while enhancing clarity. Hiring managers would certainly want to know the roles you hold/held and the responsibilities you are/were assigned. However, that won’t do much to set you apart because virtually every other applicant will list their roles too.
Notorious cliches such as ‘results-driven’, ‘team player’ and ‘excellent communicator’ don’t distinguish you from the rest. Instead, demonstrate your accomplishments in each role by providing hard data. This makes what you state as your strengths, believable.
Say, you are a techie tasked with managing IT vendors at your current employer. Indicating that you negotiated new service level agreements (SLAs) that improved vendor response times by 40% is something a prospective employer will be interested in.
4. Use Leader Language
Whether you are applying for an entry-level role or are angling for a managerial position, using words that indicate your leader mindset is key. Weak, passive wording inadvertently portrays you as a lackadaisical and indifferent candidate who goes along with anything. On the other hand, active, enthusiastic and passionate language shows you are someone who is not afraid to drive an agenda you believe in.
Note that language here is much more than just liberally injecting the words ‘leader’ and ‘leadership’. Be creative and use action verbs like ‘spearhead,’ ‘pioneer,’ ‘supervise,’ ‘revitalize,’ ‘drive’ and ‘negotiate.’ They strongly show the recruiter the kind of value you bring.
5. Eliminate Generic, Outdated and Superfluous Skills
A lengthy resume is an almost sure path to the hiring manager’s trash bin. Each entry on your resume must deserve to be there, be relevant and convey your suitability for the role. Don’t include broad capabilities that much of the wider population likely possesses, such as ‘computer skills’.
If you are applying for a position as a database administrator, your phone-answering expertise is perhaps not something any recruiter would want to read about on your resume. In fact, including that would be interpreted as an attempt to fill up the page to make up for your lack of notable accomplishments.
Watch out for skills that have been overtaken by events or whose wording has changed. Proficiency in Microsoft Office 2010 may have been impressive and fresh a decade ago, but that will probably draw bemusement when finding in a resume today.
Think about the skills that will ensure you excel at the role and dwell on these alone. Leave any extras out.
6. Don’t Be Adventurous in Style and Design
Bold, adventurous design in any context can be quite divisive. There’ll often be almost as many people who will adore the outcome as those who’ll consider it an astonishing fail. You don’t know the style preferences of the hiring manager you are sending the application to. So, whereas the style and design elements you’ve chosen might seem impressive to you, it could all backfire spectacularly when it lands at the recruitment manager’s desk.
Tread cautiously with italicizing, underlining and highlighting as this can make your resume appear cluttered, unprofessional and distracting. Stick with formal fonts, such as Calibri, Garamond, Verdana Arial, and Times New Roman.
The basis for choosing resume design is to not have it overshadow the content. Keep it clean and attractive, yet conventional and readable.