Hiring authorities don't enjoy reading resumes – especially not many resumes in one sitting.
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I know this because I often ask former hiring authorities in my workshops to raise their hands if they've read numerous resumes in the past. While their hands are still raised, I then ask how many of them enjoyed reading all those resumes. Almost every time, 100 percent of the hands drop.
But whether or not the hiring authorities like reading them, resumes are still an important component of the job search. Hiring authorities have to rely on them to decide who gets an interview.
While most resumes are not enjoyable to read, some say to the hiring authorities reading them, "This resume is different. It will go into the must-read pile instead of the don't-read pile."
How do you make sure your resume is one of these rare must-reads? Here are a few tips:
1. Use Short Sentences
Shorter is better when it comes to writing resumes. People who read a ton of resumes don't want to slog through massive paragraphs. Run-on sentences are also a turnoff.
Put yourself in the resume-reader's shoes. Make their job easier. Short word blocks of no more than 3-4 lines are preferred. Consider bolding certain text to highlight important information.
2. Target Your Resume
This concept makes many job seekers cringe, but embracing it is essential. Hiring authorities all insist that your professional resume speak to their specific needs. Make sure you understand the requirements of the position and craft your resume around those requirements. Also be sure to include the right keywords so your resume gets past the notorious applicant tracking system (ATS).
3. Include Your LinkedIn URL
Pretty much every successful job seeker has a LinkedIn profile. If you have a great profile to match your professional resume, include the URL with your contact information.
The key phrase here is "great LinkedIn profile." I tell my workshop attendees that a bad profile will only hurt their chances of landing the job. Don't draw attention to a sloppy or unprofessional LinkedIn profile.
It's important to note that employers are apt to search for you on LinkedIn regardless of whether or not you include your URL on your resume – so it's a good idea to make sure your LinkedIn profile is a great one.
4. Write a Branding Headline
I don't often see branding headlines on resumes, but a great one can set you apart from the average job seeker. A branding headline tells an employer who you are and what your areas of strength are. In other words, it brands you.
Here is an example:
Content Generation | Trade Shows | Social Media | Cost Control | Vendor Relations | Company Visibility
Your branding title on your resume will be similar to the one on your LinkedIn profile, save for the fact that the title should be tailored to each job for which you apply.
5. Craft a High-Impact Performance Profile
This section sometimes gets overlooked in a reader's rush to get to your employment history. However, if you throw something in that immediately expresses your value, such as a bolded accomplishment statement, your performance profile will be sure to catch some attention. For example: "Operations manager who increases companies' revenues in excess of 60 percent annually."
6. Add a List of Core Competencies
Consider the person reading tons of resume. Consider that, above all, they're looking for key skills that match the position. Now consider how easy you can make their job if you add a core competencies section that lays out your skills that fit the role, plus any additional skills that could be tie-breakers.
7. Make Sure Your Employment History Is Strong
A strong employment history is the main course of the resume dining experience. It's what hiring authorities focus most on. It's your chance to sell yourself and close the deal. All the tips mentioned above are fruitless unless you tie it all together in a strong employment history.
A great employment history includes:
- A summary in paragraph format for each position that covers the overall duties you performed. The summary's length should not exceed three or four lines, and it should explain what brought you to the position, e.g., "Hired to improve manufacturing production and communications among departments."
- Key accomplishments in bullet format. Accomplishments should be quantified using numbers, dollars, or percentages. A professional resume will sell you with accomplishments, whereas an average resume will focus mainly on duties.
Wrong: "Responsible for directing engineers to deliver data storage software."
Right: "Directed 15 engineers to deliver storage software on time, boosting sales 55 percent in a down economy."
Your accomplishments, if relevant to the new role, will show hiring authorities what you're capable of doing for them in the future.
8. Properly Format Your Education Section
This section usually anchors your resume, unless it's a strict requirement, in which case it would follow the performance profile. This section may seem like a no-brainer, but you should always follow these guidelines: most recent degree first, followed by prior degrees. Exclude dates of graduation. For example:
Master of Arts, Communications with a Concentration in Marketing. University of Boston, Boston, MA.
Bachelor of Arts, English. Bentley University, Waltham, MA.
Your resume is the most important document in your job search, so it must be written extremely well. Don't forget that employers need to see how you will add value to the organization. Make sure this is apparent.
As I like to say, you should "hit them over the head" with your accomplishments. If you do this, your resume will be a pleasure to read.
Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer who leads more than 15 job search workshops at an urban career center.