Job seekers often neglect the power and potential of the resume. It’s treated like an overloaded buffet instead of a snack-sized sample platter that can pique an employer’s appetite. Distinguish yourself from bland competitors by selecting the highest quality ingredients for a flavorful dish.
1.) Easy-to-Find Contact Info – Everyone knows to put contact information at the top (employers need to be able to easily reach you). Obviously, that contact information includes your email address and cell phone. However, you should leave off your physical address. Why, you ask? You might inadvertently disqualify yourself from the job.
With a quick glance at your physical address, assumptions are made. Certain employers look at the distance between your home and the office, and assume you’d hate the commute based on their own preferences. Provide a metropolitan area instead. It broadens your range and defeats biases.
2.) A Clean Design – Have you ever looked at a Where’s Waldo book? Each illustration has a thousand zany and different details that take on a unique life all their own. But when you’re trying to find Waldo or his buddies on a time crunch, you sometimes wish all of the clutter would just disappear.
That’s what a bad resume is like to employers. In every good resume, the following information is crystal clear thanks to the design:
• Your Name
• Your Current Employer (Dates & Duties Included)
• Your Previous Employers (Dates & Duties Included)
• Your Education
• Your Technical Skills.
3.) Catchy Keywords – Generic resumes are indistinguishable from one another because nothing stands out. Employers in flyby mode are quick to turn their attention elsewhere. Targeted keywords are what grab their attention. Personally, would you rather see the peaks and valleys of a mountain range or the endless sea of flat plains?
Good keyword usage depends on the job advertisement itself. Any technical skills you have that overlap with it need to be listed in two ways: in the ways you used them in each applicable job and in a complete technical list at the top or bottom of your resume.
4.) An Interactive Element – A static resume is like a 2D sketch in a 3D world: you miss out on dimensions that might otherwise appeal to employers.
Modern resumes across disciplines need to provide some level of interactivity. It doesn’t need to be as elaborate as this video game themed resume, but it does need to link back to other tools that can help you make your pitch.
LinkedIn Profiles, digital portfolios, and links to project pages are all ways to make it clear you’re on the right track.
5.) Clear Achievements – What you do daily doesn’t matter on a resume. It’s what you achieve that entices employers. Examples:
• If you worked in Accounts Receivable, you want to prove that you quickly collected and processed invoices, decreasing the overall collection time.
• If you worked towards Process Improvements, you want to show the ways you used your Six Sigma Black Belt to decrease waste and increase operational savings.
• If you worked with C++, you want to show the way that your embedded programs brought in revenue, increased clients, or resolved a major problem.
You also want to rely as heavily on figures and statistics as much as possible. That way, you back up your claims with quantitative truths. Update your resume regularly to keep those stats fresh in your mind.
In the end, your resume needs to make a lasting impression and you can’t do that by just following the status quo. Include information, design your layout, and write your achievements with that in mind. When you do, employers won’t be able to get enough of what you have to offer.
by James Walsh