Hiring managers sometimes have to read over hundreds of resumes each day. They all start looking the same, as you can imagine. What does it take to write a strong, compelling resume that will catch their attention? Pump up your resume to make sure you’re considered for the position you want.
That’s the prize-winning question! Because hiring managers, recruiters, or HR assistants are individuals, they have different things they find appealing. What works for one, might not work for the next. But, there are some universal qualities that comprise a “good” resume that will appeal to the vast majority.
And, that’s what you’re shooting for. Something that gives your resume a better chance of getting read than the other resumes that are putting these poor folks to sleep. You want to improve the statistical probability that your resume will be selected for an interview.
Here are some safe bets for turning your light-weight resume into a heavy-weight contender. Nothing crazy here, folks, because you don’t want to stand out in a bad way! (Imagine your resume being passed around to other recruiters for them to giggle at.) For the right kind of attention, try these ways of pumping up your resume.
1. Avoid Using A Template
According to The Undercover Recruiter: “Using a template will never make you stand out and chances are your application will be cut short due to your resume being the same as every other job seeker’s.”
Your resume should have a unique design. But, what if you’re not a Microsoft Word wiz? Look on Youtube for lots of formatting how-to videos and tips.
2. Don’t Be Predictable
Avoid Times New Roman. Use a font that isn’t the default in Word, because that’s what just about everyone else is using. But, don’t pick a font that is so unusual, people won’t have it on their computers.
You could even use two complimentary fonts (I like the Arial Suite), using one to accent headlines and one for body text. Sometimes I use serif for the section headers and sans serif fonts for the body, since sans serif fonts allow for more on a page and are easier to read on a computer screen.
Don’t know what serif and sans serif fonts are? Check out this awesome infographic.
3. Use SMART/CAR/STAR Stories
What are these? Briefly, they describe the challenge you faced, the action you took to resolve it (with metrics), and the result you got. Bullet points written this way pack a lot of power, as you can see in this sample.
4. Emphasize Your Personal Brand
Write about your personal brand strengths throughout your resume. Check out this article if you’d like to know more about personal branding. Here are some ways to get ideas for yours:
- Ask others what they value in you and how you work.
- Look for accomplishments on old performance evaluations.
- Consider assessments to gain a deeper understanding of ways you can describe your strengths.
5. Target Your Resume To The Job Description
Jab those key words in where ever you can. My eBook Target Your Resume to Win Over the Applicant Tracking System has some great tips for how to do this.
6. Know Your Resume Grammar
Resumes are written in first-person, but omitting pronouns (I, me, my, etc.). To avoid confusion, I now use only the past tense. Other weird resume rules are omitting articles like “the,” “an,” and “a,” using a serial comma, and using an endash (not a hyphen) between numbers. I’ll have to write another whole blog on that alone!
Along with this comes the obvious advice: proofread! Read aloud, backward. Have an editor check it over. Do a “find” search for words to delete such as, “the,” “a,” “an” “I,” “me,” “my,” etc. Turn on the “show/hide” button to see extra spaces. Sleep on it.
7. Put Your Best First
To really knock out your competition, don’t save the best for last! Front load each bullet point, putting the biggest part of the success first. Like this example:
Navigated intense challenges of recruitment to onboard astounding 17 director-level and researcher recruits.
Brought onboard unprecedented 17 director-level and researcher recruits, navigating intense recruiting challenges.
You can also frontload your document with your biggest accomplishments in the summary. Don’t wait to hook them with your greatness! Put it out there right from the start.
Employers want to know what sets you apart! Why should they hire YOU? If your resume lands you an interview, but there’s another candidate you’re sparring in the ring with, it could be your amazingly strong resume that puts you over the edge and wins you the job.
That’s the sweet science of pumping up your resume. Now, go get ‘em, tiger!
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