The news on the economy is hard to ignore, and even harder to stomach. The unemployment rate has topped 6 percent, and it could climb even higher if businesses can’t pry loose sufficient credit to grow, or in some cases, just to sustain operations. Some of you have already lost your jobs, and the rest of us have at least wondered about our job security. If you’re expecting to launch a job search, or are already in the middle of one, you may be facing a lot of competition.
This two-part series will give you ideas to make yourself memorable during both stages of the hiring process -- on paper and in person. Here, Part I talks about crafting a standout resume, while Part II will address the interview process.
Is Your Resume Remarkable?
Your goal is to get a hiring manager to conclude, “This is exactly the type of person we’re looking for!” To elicit that type of reaction, look at these three aspects of your resume:
1) Keywords – How well do words and phrases on your resume match up with those in the job description? With competition from all sides, it's especially important to echo the employer's wording. To be sure, compare the skills and qualifications you have in your resume with the requirements listed in two or three descriptions of jobs for which you’re well qualified. Look at the descriptions closely and determine which words and phrases show up most often, then work those words and phrases into your resume. The more keyword matches you have in your resume, the more likely it will get past the electronic scanning programs, recruiters, or HR people standing between it and the hiring manager.
2) Your Objective or Summary – Your objective or summary is the resume's opening statement, and can determine whether the hiring manager will read on. Again using employers' keywords, summarize your skills and background in 50 words or less. You may even want to consider using a headline to grab someone’s attention. Try something like: Sales Manager with 12-Year Record of Developing Profit-Generating Teams or Award-Winning Multimedia Designer.
3) Your Experience – When detailing your work experience, the typical job seeker’s mistake is merely listing the duties from your most recent roles. That may work when there are fewer people looking for new positions, but a down economy means you have to work harder to set yourself apart. Your accomplishments will carry more weight than your duties. Examine how you made a difference for your previous employers and how that might apply to your target employer. Write down anything that saved your employer money or time, or added revenue. For example, a hiring manager for a bank that recently acquired another bank would probably be looking for something like this: Directed integration of technology assets from newly acquired bank, coming in 20% under budget and 2 weeks ahead of schedule.
Presenting yourself memorably on paper can get you through the first stage of a successful job search: being called for an interview. In Part II, Michael Neece will discuss what makes a candidate memorable during the in-person interview process.
Do you have any other resume tips that can improve your chances of being called for an interview? Share them below.