A reader asks, "I was wondering what a person has to do to even get noticed in this sea of resumes? I have been looking for a job for over a year and I have a Bachelor's degree in Business/Project Management. I also am enrolled for my Master's degree for business and I can't even get a call. I don't know what to do. Irritated!"
My response: Resume submission and review has changed dramatically with the wide use of technology as the first step in the hiring process. As a result, the way you craft your resume needs to change. When you are asked to complete an online application that requires filling in text boxes, your submission is going into a database that will use a search engine to make "best fit matches" with the employer's position.
To get your resume noticed, there are three areas to focus on.
1. Key Places on the Resume to Customize for a Desired Position or Line of Work
If you're staying within your same field, a well-crafted professional summary containing a few sentences (two to five lines) that summarizes what you've done and highlights what you are known for is the way to go (in lieu of an objective).
Professional Summary Example
Twenty-plus years of progressive leadership positions in product development and manufacturing engineering management in high technology industries. Skilled at complex problem solving, product innovation, high level customer relations, engineering strategy development and selecting and retaining top engineering talent.
Below this, add some expertise bullets that match the language you see on each job posting.
Expertise Bullets Example
- Strategic planning and tactical implementation
- Highly proficient with Visio and Excel
An objective within a "Qualifications" section can work if you are looking for work that is different from what you've been doing.
Qualifications Objective Example
Seeking an admissions position where my abilities to promote and generate enthusiasm for an organization's mission and make thorough, timely decisions are needed.
Make the statement relevant and customized for each job to which you are applying. It should highlight what you bring to an employer (not what you want from them, save that until you get an interview!).
Instead of expertise bullets, which you may not have since this is a new direction, highlight three to five of your relevant, transferable skills that match the position requirements.
Transferable Skill Bullet Example
- Relationship builder - demonstrated ability to build rapport and ongoing relationships with people of all ages and backgrounds using excellent listening, questioning and observation skills.
2. Construct Each Employment Description with Well-written and Informative Content
Give a brief overview of the position and bullet two to five of your accomplishments or successes in the role. Employers are impressed with your specific contributions and the "value add" you brought to the tasks and not with company information, job descriptions or daily duties.
Employment Overview Example
Marketing Account Executive, ABC Advertising, Manchester NH, 4/09 - 4/12
Developed and implemented a wide range of marketing activities for computer graphic companies nationwide. Point person for existing accounts and in charge of business development in New England territory.
- Through excellent customer service, quality products and timely delivery, increased new customer accounts by 20 percent while consistently maintaining established client base.
- Developed, designed and executed presentation materials for several large accounts including ABC, DFG and Big Top Inc.
Some items to note for this section:
- Use action verbs and avoid words like "responsible for."
- When possible, quantify results or use language that gives the scope of your work.
- You can customize the accomplishments you choose to highlight; again looking for the ones that you think will be most relevant for the position to which you are applying.
- Make sure you match your words to the posting when possible. Use "customer service" if the posting contains that language, but change those keywords to "customer care" if that's what you see in the posting; these words will be picked up by the applicant tracking system's search engine.
3. Create a Positive Visual Impact
Using these techniques your resume has a much better chance of being selected from the database or pile. At this point in the process, your resume may be printed out or emailed to others and how it looks starts to count. A resume that is not too dense, with white space and a visually appealing format can make a difference. If the resume is visually unappealing and looks hard to read, the reader may pass it over or do a quick scan, and all your hard work in customizing and agonizing over the details will go unnoticed.
As you incorporate these approaches into your resume, your chances of getting your resume noticed increase. Remember, no one resume fits all; customization and relevant content are the name of the game.
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