With corporate jobs attracting up to 250+ resumes per position, it’s no wonder hirers take an average of just 6 to 7 seconds to scan each resume they receive. Before it even hits the desk of a hiring manager, your resume may go through an automated applicant tracking system (ATS), which screens resumes for certain criteria before they reach a human.
To increase the likelihood of your resume standing out among applicants, use these seven resume hints to optimize your writing and the impression you make.
1. Tailor Your Resume to the Position
Before you send a resume, make sure you’ve thoroughly read the job description for what you’re applying for. The job description has keywords you can feature in your resume, as long as your experiences are relevant. Remember that an ATS may scan your resume pre-human, so consider the job description before you edit your resume.
The job description could influence much of what’s depicted on your resume, from the title you feature beneath your name, to the order of accomplishments you list in each position. The more relevant you make your resume to the position you’re applying for, the more it will speak to ATS software and to hirers.
2. Focus on Impact
Since many hiring managers use scanning methods to evaluate resumes, adding numbers can grab attention. Quantify your accomplishments with metrics whenever possible, so it’s easy for hirers to understand how you’ve contributed in your career or as a student.
You might include a standalone “Selected Achievements” on your resume early on to engage the hirer. Feature up to three standout accomplishments that have numbers to back up your impact.
3. Perfect Your Timing
According to Business News Daily, the best time to send a resume is between 6 a.m.-10 a.m. within the first four days a job has been posted. Some businesses will use a “hire fast” approach when they need to quickly fill a position.
Don’t fret if you want to apply for a job that has been posted for days or weeks longer than the above window. Just make sure to send your resume early in the morning so that it’s fresh in a hirer’s inbox as they begin their work day.
4. Proofread Your Resume
A single spelling error could be enough to give off the impression you’ll make mistakes on the job. Scan your resume for spelling and grammar errors before sending. Have someone else read it over if possible.
Also, make sure your email address is professional. Create a new email account for your job search if you need to.
5. Get to the Point
As you describe what you’ve done on the job or at school, lead with strong action verbs to engage the reader. Be specific about your duties so you can include more relevant keywords.
For example, instead of writing, “Attended weekly team meetings to work on marketing objectives,” write, “Collaborated with marketing team to create pay-per-click campaign strategy. Achieved 400% ROI in 6 months.” The latter statement starts with a strong action verb and includes specific, quantifiable achievements that demonstrate contributions.
6. Feature Transferable Skills
You may have skills that are hyper-specific to the job you’re applying for, like software skills for a job in IT, or medical skills for a job in nursing. Transferable skills are skills that can transfer across industries to benefit diverse jobs. For example, Indeed’s list of the top 20 in-demand skills for 2022 include transferable skills like analysis, people management, creativity, collaboration, adaptability, time management and persuasion.
You can feature your specific software skills in a “Technical Skills” section on your resume, and highlight transferable skills in a general “Core Competencies” section. Again, pay attention to what’s listed in the job description to see what relevant skills you have to offer. Make sure you feature those on your resume, in their own section and within the descriptions for each position you list.
7. Go Beyond the Job Itself
In addition to job-related duties and formal education, include additional sections like the following on your resume.
- Certifications and Licenses: Certifications and licenses from relevant associations show you’re invested in continuing your education to improve your skillset. Even a quick and free credential like a LinkedIn Skill Assessment badge could bolster your resume, especially if you’re a recent college graduate on a job search.
- Honors and Awards: Honors and awards show employers you’ve gone above and beyond in your role. Include the name of the award, the organization giving it out and when you received it on your resume.
- Professional Affiliations: If you’re a member of a professional organization, listing this shows you’re invested in developing your skills and connecting with your community. People at the job you’re applying for may also belong to the same organization(s).
- Volunteerism: Volunteerism can benefit you in a few ways. One is that the hirer may be familiar with the organization(s) you’ve contributed to, which can help you form a connection. Also, volunteering shows you’re invested in your community, which can make you stand out as a cultural fit for the organization you’re applying for.
You may also want to begin your resume with a strong professional summary paragraph that summarizes your career or the achievements you’ve made as a student, if you just graduated. Again, use action verbs and numbers (“10+ years in [industry],” for example) to effectively sum up your career or student journey.
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