Competition for jobs remains tough and the need to write a compelling resume – that resonates in all the right ways – puts increasing pressure on this critical career file.
How can you ensure your resume includes modern strategies to get it noticed this upcoming year? Here are 5 tips to rev up your resume’s success in 2019:
1. Know Thyself
To start, you can’t write a successful resume unless you know exactly what you are selling. In this case, you are the item you want employers to buy into. Before you start to write your resume, have a solid understanding of your personal value and unique offerings. These form the foundation of a strong resume file and ‘set the stage’ for the message you want to get across.
To identify your own unique offerings, ask yourself some of the following questions and use answers to build a value proposition for your resume:
- What am I good at –really good at – and how can I back this up with proof and examples?
- What is the biggest return on investment employers would get from hiring me?
- What are some of my consistent career achievements?
- What sets me apart from my competitors?
2. Write With an Audience in Mind
Sending a general ‘one-size-fits-all’ resume to every application will yield low results, at best. You need to tailor resume content for every job.
Regardless if a resume is read by a human or a machine, customizing keywords, details, results, facts, and skills is the key to getting your resume screened through to the interview stage. Employers want to know exactly how you will add value to their team or company – and nothing else. For example, if you are applying for a job in marketing, don’t waste prime resume real estate sharing loads of details about your unrelated work experience as a bartender. Emphasize marketing skills and related career results; shorten or eliminate the rest.
Truly, if you can’t take the time to write your resume for each specific job target (audience) then you can’t expect employers to take the time to read it.
3. Shift Content from Basic “Tell” to Strong “Sell”
In order to capture – and keep – the attention of a hiring authority, resumes need more than just tailored content and keywords. They also need proof. Proof of the skills you claim to covet. Saying you are good at ‘helping people’ or ‘increasing revenues’ and providing clear evidence of these tasks are two different things. You need supporting metrics and measurable impacts to back up your claims. In fact, you want the majority of your resume to focus on results. Shift resume content away from task-based details by consistently answering: “how many, how much, and how often.”
Looking for examples? This post on How to Add Achievements into Your Resume includes a handy chart with loads of ideas to get you started.
4. Align Resume Strategy with Job Search Tactics
The majority of large organizations now use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to scan submitted applications. If you apply for a job online your resume is likely being scanned by an ATS. Applying for jobs through ATS has proven to be one of the greatest challenges for job seekers. This is because content customization is absolutely paramount in these systems, but also because the competitor pool can be a lot larger.
When applying for a job online, your resume needs to be ATS-complaint and written uniquely for the computer screener or the odds of it being selected as a match will plummet.
However, if you are pursuing other job search strategies (highly recommended) like referrals or networking, you should adjust your resume strategy to be more ‘people-friendly’. To improve readability, consider some of the techniques in the following point below.
5. Think Outside the Box
Finally, do you want a resume that looks like all the rest? Or do you want to rev up this file to be compelling in both content and design? When applying directly to a person (email, snail mail, or direct drop-off), try using modern design tactics to help raise the visibility and readability of your resume.
This means a less bland black-and-white template and more visually stimulating layouts and unique formats that include potential color, charts, graphs, and unique fonts. The goal isn’t to be flashy or go completely overboard in appearance. After all, content remains king in a resume and what the file says matters more than how it looks. Yet, affording some time and attention to your resume’s appearance can make it rise above the rest. See some samples here.
Adrienne Tom, President and Chief Executive Resume Strategist, Career Impressions
Adrienne Tom is a certified resume writer and employment strategist at Career Impressions where her award-winning resumes help top professionals level up, land faster, and increase their earning power.
She’s a 9x certified professional with accreditations including, Certified Executive Resume Master (first in Canada), Master Certified Resume Strategist, Certified Employment Strategist and Certified Interview Strategist.
Adrienne is a member of the Forbes Coaches Council, is named one of LinkedIn’s Top 15 Career Search Experts to Follow and has been featured in the Globe & Mail, Monster, Canadian Business Magazine and Business Insider.