Thought #21: 2 Quick & Easy Ways to Fix that Resumé

Did you know that on average 100 or more applicants apply for any given position? Or that recruiters and hiring managers need to know in less than 30 seconds of reading your resumé that you’re the right candidate for a job? Not only is it important to stand-out in a competitive job market, but you also need to make the case for why you’re in a position to succeed in a desired position right away.

At this point, it should be common sense that successful resumés are the ones that are super specific and directly address the qualifications and skills that are needed to excel in a prospective role or position; additionally, the best resumés present this information in an engaging and concise way, which isn’t an easy feat. Moreover, if you have little work experience, or you’re looking to change careers, you’re probably applying for positions across industries, making the task of tailoring your resume for each individual job posting even more daunting.

Don’t be tempted to revert to the more traditional mindset about the resumé as a repository for every work, volunteer, and educational experience that is universally applicable to all positions because there’s a better way. While compiling a detailed list of all your experiences is a great first step, it’s only the beginning of the process.

Thought #21 outlines my recent insights on how to quickly and effectively tailor a resumé for desired positions, so you increase your chances of landing an interview.

Tip #1: Nail the Opening Statement

Recruiters and hiring managers spend very little time reviewing resumés, so first impressions are paramount – knock the introduction out of the park! Hook a recruiter or prospective employer into what you’re selling at the beginning, and you’ll get an interview.

Still using an Objective Statement as the opener of your resumé? Stop! Instead, start with a professional profile or summary, which is a longer, but not long, statement at the beginning of a resumé that establishes a track-record of results.

To give you an idea of what profile or summary might look like, the following is a suggested opening statement for a career counselor:

For five years, I developed a reputation of leading diverse stakeholders in executing complex projects, such as college fairs and career panels, which increased the number of first-generation college students accessing higher education at my school-sites. Moreover, I developed equitable and supportive approaches to facilitating goal development and follow through on college and career aspirations for first-generation college students, and I’m confident I will be able to produce similar results with the diverse students at your school-site.

Tip #2. Use Competencies Section Strategically

When evaluating candidates, the first thing a recruiter or a prospective employer attempts to do is assess an applicant’s competence, so it’s in your best interest to outline at the beginning the specific abilities, knowledge, and skills that qualify you for a particular job. Hence, my recommendation is to incorporate a key competencies section into the introductory part of your resumé.

How you format your key competencies section depends on where your resumé is headed. For resumés submitted directly to an employer and vetted by a hiring committee, restate relevant qualifications and skills from a targeted job description, which will accomplish two goals:

  1. It will demonstrate to a hiring committee that you’ve actually read and understood the job description and have relevant skills.
  2. It will make it easy for a resumé reader to quickly identify and evaluate your competence.

On the otherhand, resumés submitted to popular job sites like Indeed or Monster have to beat an Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), which is a software program that scans resumes for matching and/or related keywords (read Thought #8: 3 Ways to Make Your Resume Stand Out for more on ATS).

When taking on ATS, use your key competencies section to compile a list of keywords that are related to your targeted position; however, the catch is not to just list a bunch of awesome keywords – keywords should actually describe what you know and can do. A good strategy is to research 3 to 4 target job descriptions, scan through each description, and circle keywords and phrases that reflect your knowledge and abilities.

While tailoring your resume for various employers and purposes is never an easy task, I hope that the two tips I’ve discussed will make the process just a little bit easier the next time you need to draft a resume.

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