So you decided to search for a new job, you put a great resume together, you apply to a ton of great positions… and it’s crickets. I’m sure this is a story we have all been a part of at some point in our careers. While there is no guarantee that your resume will be seen by the right person, there are some effective tips to help make your resume stand out for the dream job you want to land.
As we are a recruiting firm, we see a lot of resumes come through the pipeline for various levels of positions. On average, recruiters spend just 7 seconds reviewing a resume. This isn’t due to a lack of caring, but recruiters and hiring managers often get hundreds of applications, making it impossible to go through each one with a fine-tooth comb. Knowing this fact, it’s essential to make sure your resume grabs the recruiter’s attention to get to the top of the pile for the job that you want.
1. Actually Read the Job Description
This may sound obvious, but if you have ever been responsible for going through applications for a job posting, you probably know it is not. It is extremely common for people to apply for jobs without any relevant experience. If a job description states that you need ‘5+ years of digital marketing experience’ and you do not have any, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but this is not the job for you. Now, if you have 3 years of digital marketing experience and you have many other relevant skills they are looking for, I would say to still throw your hat in the ring, and make sure your resume stands out using the following strategies.
Be honest with yourself as you are reading the job requirements and make sure that you have at least the basic relevant skills for a job before wasting your own time applying.
2. Clear and Concise Resume
Nothing is more bothersome to recruiters and hiring managers than opening a resume and it’s an absolute mess. We like seeing clean formatting, bullet points, and relevant information at the top. If a recruiter is going to spend 7 seconds looking at your resume, make it clear and easy to see your relevant skills. Here is a comprehensive list of common resume mistakes.
3. Keyword-Up Your Resume
Recruiters live and die by keywords. It’s not only how we find candidates on LinkedIn, Indeed, or other job board sites, but it is how we quickly interpret resumes as well. For example, if we are looking for an Email Marketing Candidate and the applicant does not have the word “email” within the top half of the resume, we won’t probably be calling that person back. It’s not to say if you don’t have all of the right keywords on your resume you are doomed, but why not make it easier for recruiters to find you and see that you are a good fit all at once?
Also, do not just write keywords in your resume if you don’t actually have those skills. Make sure to highlight the themes of your experience in the summary (or top section) of your resume. Going back to the email marketing example, if that is the field you are in and are searching for a job, include the phrase “Email Marketing” and the main tools or software you use right up at the top of your resume. Even bold some of those keywords to make them easy to see!
4. Specific Data Driven Metrics
When it comes to summarizing your technical skills for each job listed on your resume, be specific and use data. For example, instead of saying that you “increased sales” say you “increased sales by 15% from 2020 to 2021”. This is obviously just a generic example, be specific depending on your field. Any quantifiable achievements or specific awards are a great bullet point to add to your resume too. Hiring managers particularly like to see data in the content of your resume!
Along the same lines, if you are in a field where portfolios are the standard, have the link to yours clearly visible at the top of your resume.
5. Be Careful with Resume Templates
Many programs offer resume templates for you to edit and use. While these can be a great place to start when creating your resume from scratch, please make sure to make it your own. You definitely aren’t the first person to search in Microsoft Word for a resume template, and most recruiters can tell. You don’t have to be a computer wizard to put something together (in fact we also don’t like when resumes are too complicated either) but change the font style and formatting to make the template custom to you.
6. Avoid Generic (and Overused) Phrases
Team player, independent, hard worker, self-starter… just, don’t. While all of these things may be true, if there is an entire bullet point or sentence dedicated to how you are a team player, it is a waste of space. Now, if you can tie it to a metric, then that would be different. For example, “As a strong team player, I successfully lead my team through XYZ”. This gives a concrete example of how you are a strong team player and doesn’t sound like complete fluff.
7. Send a Follow-Up Email
Though recruiters do their best to be as thorough as they possibly can for each resume, we’re all human and things do slip through the cracks. Nowadays, it is usually very easy to locate a recruiter’s email address or LinkedIn Profile. Send a quick message (preferably email, but LinkedIn is okay too) to the recruiter, re-attaching your resume, and include two or three metric-driven bullet points as to why you are an ideal candidate for the position. Usually, the top few requirements in a job description are the most important, so call out your experience as it relates to those.
At the very least, you will most likely prompt the recruiter to take a second glance at your resume. Sometimes the hiring companies have very specific requirements that we have to look for and there is nothing we can do. But hey, a follow-up never hurt anyone, and making a connection is always a positive thing.
8. Don’t Use Overly Formatted Resumes
When we are working on a job search, recruiters often connect with some great candidates that may be missing qualifications for their current search, but would be a great fit for an upcoming one. In order to be found in the system again, having a text-based resume is clutch.
Most recruitment firms and hiring companies use what is called an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). These allow recruiters to upload resumes and categorize them for future use. Many of these systems scan resumes for keywords or phrases when new searches arise. The safest bet is to save your resume as a Word document or PDF. Avoid using tables if possible as these are not always picked up on by an ATS. Also, make sure you don’t abbreviate things. For example, don’t simply write MBA but write out “Masters of Business Administration (MBA)”. Now you have both keywords and are safe. Check out more ATS tips and tricks from Jobscan.
We hope using these tips and tricks will help your resume stand out to a potential employer, and using those relevant keywords can get your resume to the top of the pile. If you are starting your job search, check out our open jobs!