Happy International Update Your Resume Month! The month of September is a reminder to edit your resume so it reflects where you currently are in your career and represents you well as a job candidate.
A strong resume is important because it’s often the first impression you can make with hirers. According to 2021 research by Zippia, online job openings receive 250+ resumes each. Hiring managers spend only 6 seconds on average to read a resume. Only 2% of sent resumes result in an interview.
To grab attention and move to the next step in the hiring process, you need an effective resume. Use these three tips to improve yours this International Update Your Resume Month.
1. Think Like a Computer
With so many resumes to sift through, many businesses use technology to manage resume submissions. One common form of resume tech is an applicant tracking system (ATS).
An ATS is a digital database that organizes resumes, similar to how a customer relationship management system works. The ATS may filter resumes for certain keywords, skills and education, so recruiters and hirers see more relevant resumes for each position.
If your resume doesn’t meet certain ATS specifications, potential employers may never see your resume at all. An analysis by Jobscan found 98.2% of Fortune 500 companies use ATS technology. Smaller companies may use them to save time and hire ideal candidates, as well.
To adapt to an ATS, you’ll want to make sure your resume is keyword-focused. Think in terms of what hirers are looking for from job candidates.
It’s helpful to research job titles similar to ones you’ve had or want, so you can see the keywords that are listed in those descriptions. You can use similar keywords that relate to your experience on your resume.
Also, it’s important to be mindful of resume formatting for ATS. If you use graphic design that’s not optimized for ATS systems, your information could get lost during processing. Check out resume templates designed for ATS to prevent that from happening.
2. Make Your Resume Scannable
Since employers don’t take long (6 seconds!) to look at a resume, you want your resume to be visually appealing so hirers can scan and find the exact info they’re looking for. Phoenix-based professional resume writing firm HiConsulting Services recommends to include the following sections in your resume.
- Accurate, up-to-date contact information: This includes your name, a professional email address, phone number, city and state. Also, include a link to your LinkedIn profile – after you’ve updated it, of course.
- Title: This should speak to both what your experience is and what you aspire to be. For example, say you have 10 years of experience in the IT field as an software developer, and you want to advance into a management position. You might add the word “leader” to your title, something like: Software Development Leader.
- Concise, impactful summary statement: Consider starting with the amount of time you’ve worked professionally in what type of industry. List short statements that describe the qualities that make you stand out as a candidate. Lead with action verbs.
- Selected achievements: State two or three career achievements. If you’ve just graduated school and are starting a career search after college, you can choose achievements related to leadership positions at school or in organizations.
- Core competencies: A bulleted core competencies section of around 12-15 skills you have is good to include because that makes your skills scannable. It’s also good for keyword search.
- Professional experience: Start with your most recent experience. Include your job title, company, city/state and dates you worked there. Write in the present tense for your current job and in the past for former jobs when you’re describing your achievements and duties. Quantify accomplishments with numbers whenever possible. Lead with your most significant results for each position.
- Education: List any degrees you have and notable training you’ve completed.
- Certifications: If you have industry-related certifications, list them, along with dates they’re active.
- Technical skills: Note any specific technology systems you have experience with.
- Awards: Include the name of the award, the organization that gave it to you and the year you received it.
- Volunteerism: List any recent volunteerism, including the organization and dates.
HiConsulting Services recommends to keep resumes to two pages. Use both pages to fill out as much information as you can. If you have more relevant experience than will fit in two pages, you might shorten some of the other sections and include an “Additional Experience” bulleted section toward the end to list older positions.
Try to keep the information you list relevant to the job you’re applying for. You may want to update your resume for each new job you’re applying for so that the most relevant experience is included.
3. Proofread Your Resume
It’s unfortunate, but a single minor error on a resume could be enough to dissuade employers from engaging with you. Errors may be interpreted as inability to pay attention to detail or as a lack of effort.
Misspelled keywords will get lost in an ATS. Use a spell checker on your word document, but have an extra set of eyes on your resume if you can, too.
Whenever you’re ready to send an updated resume to an employer, have someone proofread it first. You’ll want to avoid:
- Spelling and grammar errors
- Misused, overused, filler and repetitive words
- Confusing timelines
- Passive voice
Ask a mentor if they’d be willing to look at your resume for you. Ideally, someone who has hired other people is a great choice to evaluate your resume.
If you want a professional’s point-of-view, you can always work with a pro resume writer, too.
Benefits of an Up-to-Date Resume
You never know when a great job opportunity will come along. Having an updated resume in the meantime can save you time, hassle and stress next time you’re interested in applying for a role.
Remember to update your resume for each new job you’re applying for, so you ensure it’s relevant to that particular job. Updating your resume now gives you a foundation to work with so it’s easier to make any edits you need. Ready to start a career search and send off your resume? Browse careers in Arizona.