If you are looking for a job in this ever-changing economy, or even have a job already, it is usually a smart move to make your own resume. A resume is a short document that puts onto paper your skills, qualifications and job experience that you would like a future employer to know about.
When you first go into the resume-building process, there can be quite a few pitfalls and other common mistakes to avoid, as well as special parts to add in order to make your sheet of paper stand out from among the rest.
Some companies that are hiring new employees can get sent thousands of resumes, so understanding how you can appear more qualified than somebody else on paper may be the difference between getting an interview, and getting no response at all. Although resumes can vary, especially in the parts that certain employers deem necessary, having the right resume ideas in mind can be an excellent way to make sure that you get the best shot at getting the job that you want.
The Importance of Having a Great Resume
Resumes are generally comprised of a few different parts. They should include identifying information like your name, address, phone number and email address, as well as information about your job experiences that make you qualified for the position that you would like to apply for. Resumes can also include other sections to help paint a better picture of who you are as an applicant, such as a list of your qualifications, certifications, education and more.
Of course, simply having a resume is not enough to impress a potential employer. Employers need to be able to pick out the best and most relevant ones, both in terms of appearance and substance. Many employers will often have specific criteria when looking for the candidate that best fits with their job vacancy and company attitude. When looking at hundreds or thousands of resumes for one position, some companies have certain resume-filtering systems that can separate the great resumes from those that simply do not fit their needs. When you prioritize making your resume as detailed and relevant as possible, you can effectively make your resume stand out among other candidates who apply for the job that you want.
Beating Resume Bots
Resumes usually cannot be carefully reviewed by employers, especially when they have a large amount of them. Some recruiters and human resource managers only spend a few seconds looking over each resume, in order to save time and shorten their stack of candidates. And in other cases, corporations will utilize an applicant tracking system (ATS) to automatically parse resumes into groups that fit the position and groups that do not. If you are looking to make your resume as interesting and applicable as possible, there are a few different steps that you can take to beat the resume bots.
To make your resume easily pass an ATS inspection, you should format everything properly and edit constantly. One of the most important details to never forget about resumes is that they are a reflection of your professional self. If you want a potential employer (or their ATS bot) to see you as a viable candidate, you need to make completely sure that there are no spelling errors or formatting inconsistencies in your resume. Have others check this for you as well. If an ATS spots a spelling error in a resume, that resume may never make it to the corresponding recruiter.
Focus on applicable keywords and phrases. If a company is using an ATS bot, they are also programming that system to pick out certain keywords. These keywords can be directly related to the job, or just simply talking about leadership, communication or other traits. However, do not try to use many cliched words or phrases, as these can make your resume seem unoriginal.
Keep your words industry-specific, but don’t try to fit the mold too much in. In a similar vein, you do not want to have large blocks of texts or too many bullet points in a resume. These can show up as formatting errors on an ATS, and live recruiters can see it as too much of a time-sink to have to sift through. Keeping resume sections concise and precise is an excellent way to ensure that it will be given a fair chance to be chosen.
Cover Letters and Why They Matter
Perhaps surprisingly, your resume is sometimes not even the first thing that an employer sees when reviewing your credentials. For many jobs, especially in professional settings, employers will ask you to attach a cover letter that introduces both yourself, and your interest in their job opening. Therefore, as a tool for providing an excellent first impression, cover letters are incredibly important.
Cover letters should be informative, engaging, and most importantly, specific to the position to which you are applying. Your resume is a shorter, more universal look at all of your job experiences and credentials, so your cover letter should be a detailed and well-researched explanation of why you are a perfect candidate for this specific job. It should address specific points that were listed in the original job description, and make the employer understand why you are uniquely qualified. Additionally, cover letters can be excellent ways to explain certain aspects of your resume, such as a particularly interesting certification or a gap in employment.
In addressing a specific person, you are able to be a bit more engaging and relatable, while still maintaining a strong level of formality and grammatical correctness. Overall, your cover letter should be a strong indicator of your writing style, and is the first and best way to show a potential employer your written communication skills, attention to detail and work ethic.
What are some easy ways to make my resume better?
Besides the tips listed above, there are still some other excellent ways to improve your resume that do not require too much time or needless headaches. Some other resume tips include:
- Only putting in relevant experience to the job that you are applying for, and not including any unimportant jobs from over a decade ago.
- Making a short professional summary or objective in order to explain the kind of job you are looking for but only in the instance that you are switching career fields.
- Using a clean, professional font that is easy for an employer to read and an ATS to understand.
- Not including too much information that could be better placed in the cover letter or discussed during your first interview.
- Not trying to over-sell your talents, or even lie about your qualifications, experience or education.
Making a resume requires a lot of time and effort, but it is extremely worthwhile for any business professional, regardless of industry. With the right resume, you can feel confident that you are being given the best shot during any new job application.