Seriously! Does it send the right message?
As a resume writer & recruiter, I see this way too often! I receive a resume, and just like all recruiters do, I make an immediate judgment on the candidate based on what I see. Then, when speaking with the candidate, a whole new image of the person arises – Often a better one than the document hinted at. Why is that? A resume is a personal marketing tool, and should speak for itself. People will make all kinds of assumptions on your behalf, but none about why you are a great fit for their job opening, particularly if you have not gone through the trouble of showing them. Your resume has to tell that story on your behalf, and ultimately encourage a recruiter to reach out to you. This is key!
As corny as it may sound, first impressions really are everything. In this highly competitive market, recruiters receive a ton of resumes for each job opportunity they post. Having been on both sides of the process, I can confidently tell you that a well-structured and focused resume will undoubtedly help you stand out of the crowd, maybe even make it to the top of the ‘Maybe’ pile.
As soon as the reader takes a first look at your resume, it has to speak to them, and most particularly tick some of the boxes they are looking for. If you do this diligently, you have already increased your chances to pass through the front gate.
Related: Top 10 Résumé Formatting Tips
2. Who are you?
We cannot stress this enough: Your resume is your key marketing tool. What do you want it to say about you?
As a resume writer, I am always interested in understanding the story behind the resumes I receive. More often than not, the words I read in the existing version of my clients’ resume do not do justice to the story they share with me during our interview. A good resume should tell the story of who you are within the first glance. Think of it as your elevator pitch, only on paper.
3. The power of tag lines
Personal branding is another important part of building a fantastic resume for yourself. Tag lines are used to bring focus and direction to your document, and immediately indicate to the reader the overall profile direction of the candidate.
Just think about it, through this simple example:
Scenario 1: I received a resume from Jessica Gohier – (OK. So far, this tells me nothing)
Scenario 2: I received a resume from Jessica Gohier – Expert Resume Writer. (Aha! OK. This is what I am looking for! Let’s read on)
4. Who do you want to be
Everybody has a story: A past, a present, and a desired future. Sometimes these all match, and sometimes they don’t. Life happens, and we get that! The reality is that we are not always able to make strategic career moves. Hindsight is often 20/20, and in retrospect, what we did in the past does not always naturally support our career objectives.
Recruiters will rarely take the time to read between the lines of your resume, so remember that this document does not need to be your full professional life story. Rather, it should tell your story based on how you want to be perceived. There a different ways to tell the same story, all the while staying truthful and accurate. Give yourself the right angle!
5. Who is your audience?
Knowing your audience and understanding what they are looking for in a candidate is absolutely key to preparing an eye catching resume. This allows you to speak their language, and present your profile in the most favorable light. This can (and should) be done quite easily, especially if your job search objectives are fairly focused, either in terms of industry or job type.
Every industry has certain particularities and relevant key words. Even if these are not particularly your main expertise, demonstrate your understanding of them by strategically including some in your resume. This actively demonstrates your fit to the reader, all the while showing your proactive interest towards their reality & objectives.
6. Are you a good fit? If so, show it
In the same optic as the previous point, your resume should actively demonstrate your fit to the position in question. Ideally, you should have multiple versions of your resume, especially if you are planning on applying for different types of positions.
When personalizing your resume to a job posting, your key source of information should undoubtedly be the job posting itself. The latter is a gold mine of information for the job seeker, as it is the written description of the ideal candidate the employer is seeking. These descriptions are often split between job responsibilities and requirements: Make sure you read through them and pull out the key points. If you check those boxes, even if not all of them, make sure you show it. You already know what they are looking to buy, so sell yourself!
7. Be consistent – LinkedIn
Now that your resume is sending the right message, make sure that your LinkedIn page complements it by extending the same strategy to your online profile. Although both these tools should not be a direct copy of one another, they should tell the same story nonetheless.
As a minimal priority, make sure that your tag line, summary and skills sections send the same message to those who take the time to look you up. Recruiters will make an opinion of you within a few brief seconds, and this applies to your LinkedIn profile as well.
8. Stand out of the crowd – Most resumes don’t.
Needless to say, the competition out there is fierce. Lucky for you, most candidates have not taken the time to follow the steps above. What a great opportunity for you to stand out! Carpe diem!
Having a professional resume with great structure and content definitely gives you the upper hand. Having been on the receiving side of the process, take our word for it! Invest the necessary time in your job search. It shows more than you may think, and it generates results!
9. First impressions – Follow through
To close the loop, make sure that you follow through with the profile you sold the employer once they contact you. Continue to show understanding of their goals and requirements when you speak, and continue to sell yourself in that light as well.
Don’t just talk the talk. Walk the walk too!
Photo by: Serena Joyce