Everyone knows the economic recession has caused record levels of competition for open positions. Employers are inundated with applications within hours of posting a new job advertisement. When competing against several hundred other applicants, you need to make your resume stand out in the crowd. Consider the following techniques for making that happen.
Avoid resume templates. A resume template is a preset form into which you input information. Using a template means your resume will look like about a million other resumes in the market. Templates also typically use tables to achieve that preset formatting; tables cause significant problems for resume databases and applicant tracking systems when your resume is uploaded. Often, information in the table cannot be read or searched by the database so it is rendered useless. Finally, using a template is like trying to fit a size 12 foot into a size 10 shoe. It can be done but it’s not very useful or effective.
Keep it conservative. You may think a conservative visual style would make your resume blend but that is not true. It makes it more user-friendly. A resume with lots of bells and whistles such as fancy fonts, clip art, highly graphic design, or embedded objects are difficult for employers and hiring managers to manage. You can make your resume distinctive simply by making it look organized, clean, and logical in design.
Bring forth your accomplishments. Most people prepare their resumes without including their achievements. They write down their job responsibilities, get the basic facts of education down, and think those are enough. The resumes that stand out will be those showing accomplishments, achievements, metrics, or results in a prominent manner. Don’t just talk about what you did, but detail what your actions meant to the company or how they were performance highlights.
Don’t reach for just “anything”. It may be tempting to apply for any job you see in the hope of finding any kind of employment. That is a bad strategy. You should be qualified for the positions you are targeting. If you are applying for “anything”, not only are you wasting your time, but also the time of the employer. Employers are looking for well-qualified applicants, and with so many job seekers in the market, they are able to find candidates with excellent qualifications. Employers are wading through hundreds of resumes; it is an overwhelming task for them and generally they are not contacting “maybe” candidates. If you send your resume for any job that catches your fancy, you just add to the “static” in the job market and it accomplishes nothing for you.
Highlight your unique qualities. Everyone has something that makes them uniquely qualified. Sometimes it is a second language or a particular skill. Maybe it is an advanced degree or a special certification. Find what makes you unique and bring that forward. It may be just the “edge” you need to get a bit ahead of the competition. What is not unique are common attributes such as “excellent communication skills” or “detail-oriented”. Every job seeker in the market, all 10 million of them, claims these “soft” skills.
Pay attention to keywords and buzzwords. Regardless to whom you send your resume, it will end up in a database to be stored and searched. For your resume to rank high in resume database searches, it needs to have correct keywords and buzzwords for your industry and function. Resumes with strong content will naturally have these words included as part of the description. If you find few strong keywords in your resume, there is a good chance your resume is weak and won’t perform well in the market.
Your resume and cover letter are your primary marketing methods for finding your next job. They should be as strong and effective as possible. Work to make your resume stand out by paying attention to design, content, and strategy. Your efforts will pay off!