Your resume is only one piece of the job hunting puzzle. It is a one dimensional representation of your life’s work, and getting it right may mean investing many hours and a lot of effort to polish it. Don’t downplay its power. Your resume can get you in front of the right people if it’s done really well. As a one-dimensional snap shot, your resume is the critical lead into self advocacy. So you should have it working hard on opening doors for you. I’ve read thousands of resumes over the past 15 years with Green Search Partner. Here are 4 of the most important things you can do to make sure your resume gets the attention it deserves.
#1: PAY ATTENTION TO FORMATTING, GRAMMAR AND FLOW
The first question you need to ask is what does your resume say about your conscientiousness? Look at the formatting, grammar and flow. Go through these questions:
- Did you use past and present tenses correctly?
- Have you had someone else review it to ensure there are no spelling errors?
- Are the font and text size consistent?
- How about the spacing and the accuracy of dates and data?
- Does it say you are detail oriented and meticulous? Or does it tell the reader you didn’t take the time to review it closely before you sent it?
- Did you take the time to save it in multiple formats so it is compatible with the receiver (pdf, word, rich text format)?
How you present yourself on paper is the first glimpse a client has into how you think, your level of self confidence, the effectiveness and quality of your work product and can also reflect a great deal of information about how you apply yourself. Your accomplishments and experience can become easily overshadowed by grammatical or spelling mistakes, or improper punctuation. Before you send your resume out to a company have someone you trust review it with a fine-tooth comb. Be open to suggestions and constructive feedback from those who have been in the professional world for 10 years or more, especially if they have hired people. You don’t know exactly what a hiring manager is looking for, but it won’t matter if all they see is a poorly written resume.
#2: CREATE DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF YOUR RESUME FOR EACH POTENTIAL JOB
How many versions of your resume are you working with? Does each effectively portray the skill sets you hope to apply, and focus you are seeking in your next job?
- Did you highlight your accomplishments in a way that realistically frames your natural aptitude and capabilities
- Does the track you are on read like progressive effort or like you are standing still and just taking whatever comes along?
- How do you want to be interpreted? Go getter, ambitious, willing to do whatever it takes? Or do you come across as steady-eddie, predictable, reliable, and keeping pace with your contemporaries?
Working with more than one version of your resume is a great way to diversify your search options and puts you in a position to act quickly if a position comes up that aligns with one aspect of your experience but not the other. For example, say you are a project manager with good financial analysis experience and you want to move further into analysis using your project management experience only as a supporting function. Either way, you need a job and you’re willing to be flexible. Use your project manager resume as a starting document and re-craft it to frame out the specifics of your analysis experience, highlighting those projects that showcase your strengths. You will be ready to strike when either position shows up.
#3: USE KEY WORDS STRATEGICALLY
Technology has certainly provided helpful assistance to many hapless and harried hiring managers. Within seconds a key-word search can bring forth the top 10 to 100+ candidates whose resumes have been sitting in their recruitment database for the last several weeks, months, even years. The problem is that there is no human-to-human interaction with these people, and no one can be sure whether these people are currently looking, if they have all the requisite skills, experience, interpersonal/cultural fit that will make them an ideal candidate. But they got to the top of the list. Why? They have the right key words on their resume.
Key word search has become the go-to solution for busy hiring and HR managers looking to make quick progress on a critical hire. Most of the online and enterprise recruiting software packages also offer key word search as the primary approach to identifying potential candidates.
Here’s what you can do to increase the odds of your resume coming up.
- Create a key word bank and put it at the bottom of your resume.
- Make sure it is added to the final page and does not flow over to the last page where it could be deleted or cut off as an unnecessary piece.
- Within the key word bank add every word you can think of to describe your specific skills, experience and expertise…within reason. For example, a mechanical engineer looking for a position with a green tech or green building company can use word strings such as; “mechanical, engineer, energy, green, technology, environmental, LEED, design, power plant, retrofitting, solar, wind, water, energy efficiency, green building, HVAC” Even if these words have been used in the resume, it is word frequency that will earn you top selection as much as word selection.
#4: FOLLOW UP WITH THE HIRING COMPANY
Do you know where your resume is going? Do you know who, how or why someone has received it, read it or processed it? How can you find out whether it landed on the short list or “also ran” pile? How and when do you follow-up on a sent resume? Finding out whether your resume was received and their search is still active can be a bit trickier. Leaving a voicemail message for the hiring manager or HR Administrator offers little guarantee you’ll hear back from them anytime soon. Occasionally, you may even receive a note thanking you for your interest but no insight on theirs.
Don’t fret, you may not be in good hands, but you are in good company. The majority of job seekers do not receive feedback on a resume sent. Most often an email will show up from an automated system confirming receipt only. If you are unable to reach a live person, which is most often the case, try getting an email address and making a gentle inquiry. Just a sentence or two letting the person know you did apply, you are very interested and still available should something arise that matches your qualifications. However, in the current job market, nothing works better playing the percentages. The more resumes you send, the greater your chances of an interview. The more interviews you go on increases your odds of a job offer. The more practice you get at interviewing, the more likely you’ll nail the one that matters