Resume writing is like building a puzzle. You need to collect and describe all the little pieces that make you special (i.e. your skills and experience), and then you need to combine them together in a document that will adequately sell you to a prospective employer. The hardest part about writing a professional resume is knowing what to include and what to leave out. As a professional resume writer, I have seen my share of the good, the average, and the bad resumes. In the fast-paced world we live in, it is estimated that a hiring manager will spend less than 20 seconds when first reading through a candidate’s resume. As such, it is more important than ever to present and format your resume in the correct way. While every job seeker is unique, there are certain techniques you can use to ensure the best opportunity for success.
Open your resume with a qualifications profile or executive summary:
The most common mistake I see on a resume is the failure to quickly display what you do and what skills you have. You have such limited time to grab a reader’s attention, and if you don’t do this right away your resume will probably get deleted. Creating a qualifications profile or executive summary is a fantastic way to effectively introduce yourself to the reader. General objective statements just don’t cut it anymore. If you’re a project manager, for example, and you’re applying for a project manager government job, begin your resume by immediately announcing your relevant experience and skills to the reader. A short, 2-3 sentence introduction that states relevant qualifications or skills (as opposed to a generic “seeking a role in project management…” statement) will make a positive first impression and keep the reader interested.
Match your resume to the job description:
Even though it seems obvious, many job seekers fail to edit their resumes to target actual job descriptions. Whether you’re an entry level job seeker or senior job seeker, a hiring manager wants to know that you are capable of performing of the duties and responsibilities required by the position. If the job requires you to have certain education, skills or qualifications, make sure that they are listed on your resume. A great place to include this is on your qualifications profile – don’t bury important information at the end of the resume as there is a chance it won’t be seen. Sometimes you may find that you don’t have have the exact experience required by the job description, but that can be overcome. Many job descriptions list requirements that can be substituted by “equivalent experience”, so you can use opportunities like this to list your transferable skills.
Incorporating strategic keywords throughout your resume:
Many companies and organizations use automated resume software programs as the first stage of the recruitment process. These types of programs seek to find keywords throughout resumes, usually ones that match requirements in the job descriptions. Incorporating these types of keywords throughout your resume is a great way to ensure that your resume does not get deleted. It also works to catch the eye of the potential hiring manager and keep them reading your resume for longer.
Turn your resume into an achievement based resume:
Companies want to know about your previous success as an indicator to your future employment. Stand out from your competition by turning your resume into an “achievement based resume”. Use quantitative examples and evidence to showcase your previous experience. If you were a manger previously, don’t just state that you have managerial experience. Instead, provide examples of your management experience such as how many people you managed, what types of successes you achieved, etc. Turning your duties and responsibilities into achievement statements will automatically enhance your resume.
Remove unnecessary information from your resume:
I have 1 very simple rule when it comes to resume writing: only include information that adds value to your resume. Many people try to include too much irrelevant information that adds no value to their job applications. Remember that the aim of the resume is to get you to the job interview. The more unnecessary information you include, the greater the chance of your resume being deleted.
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