The “Perfect” Resume DOES ITS JOB!
“Your resume is a WORK HORSE, not a SHOW HORSE.”
I recently read an article on the topic of “the perfect resume” which went into great lengths about the ideal format and how to organize content. My head went immediately into its contrarian mode – wondering if there is such a thing as a
“perfect” resume in today’s digital mark
et place. From my perch a resume is “perfect” only to the extent that it does its job – i.e. getting its owner an interview, leaving the right impression following an interview. I definitely know that it’s not just a pretty document with all the right content, arranged in the right way. We’ve seen many of these “pretty ponies” fall short when it comes to doing the core work of a resume.
The bottom-line is, if your resume isn’t getting you the contacts, interviews, or offers of employment with the hiring managers you are seeking, it’s not a great resume, no matter how perfectly presented or formatted it may be! In the new digital marketplace, resumes have to be work horses, not show horses!
Here’s some information on why some resumes do their job, and others don’t.
- When it comes to RESUMES in a digital job market, function (content) definitely comes before form. Despite all the fancy resume writing templates out there, we know that the words you use to describe yourself and your experience is what really matters to the search engines looking at your resume thru the eyes of a potential employer.
Employers search candidate data bases based on key words they want to see in a resume. These key words indicate that you are fully qualified to do the job they need done. They typically look for specific work experiences or skills. This means that for your resume to get noticed, the words you use to describe the work you’ve done, or the skills you have, makes a big difference! These words need to match the key words used by the employer, or the resume will be overlooked by the job board search agents.
How does this search engine dominated marketplace play out for candidates? For your resume to do its job, it needs to be loaded up with the right key words.
For example, if you are looking for a job as a project manager, that term must appear in several places on your resume. And yes, it needs to show up on your resume even though no former employer ever called you a project manager or included that term in your formal job description. For example, if in your last job you were called a Sales Administrator, here’s how you might describe this job in the context of your desire to find a project management job. “I was the project manager on several sales related initiatives including projects to _________” If you use these types of word choices throughout your resume, the search engines are likely to find your resume and present it to a potential employer looking for a project manager. Absent those key words, your resume will be lost in the shuffle.
- Create a section of your resume (near the top) where you list your skills. Again, you want your resume to come up quickly when hiring managers are looking for candidates with specific skills. And when they see your resume, you don’t want them to have to search through several pages to find the critical information they are looking for – you want it right there on the first page.
Your list of skills can be long or short depending on the type of job you’re looking for. The length of your skills list will also be dependent on the specific skills most frequently requested by employers seeking these types of candidates. To optimize your chances to get noticed, list as many skills as you can that are relevant to the type of work you are seeking.
- Create a Job-Relevant Resume for Each Job Application. Read the job posting carefully and rewrite your resume to align with not only the stated requirements for the job, but also the vocabulary/word choices that are sprinkled throughout the posting. We’re not talking about “making up pretend skills or work experience”. If you’ve done the work described in a job posting, don’t let the fact that your previous employers used different terminology to described that work, become an obstacle for getting your foot in the door.
We see it all the time! We interview all the candidates we represent carefully so we know everything there is to know about your work experience and skills. As your agent, our job is to “translate” what you tell us about your talent, into the talent vocabulary of the employers we represent. In other words, we are trained to recognize the right candidate for a particular job even if the employer and the candidate use different words to describe the same work. We make “the match” even when our two clients may not see the connection.
That expertise aside, when its time to present a resume of a fully qualified candidate to some (not all) clients, if their resume doesn’t spell out “the match” clearly, there is always risk that the employer will skip over the candidate and go to another candidate resume that spells out the match more clearly. Most times it ends up being a candidate who took the time to rewrite their resume to better reflect what our client was specifically seeking in a candidate and/or better reflects the employer’s language.
When it comes to writing and rewriting resumes, “matchy-matchy” is a good thing!
- Make sure you create a section on your resume where you list the skills (if you have them) that were included in the job description. Put that skills list on the top 1/3 of your resume content so search engines are sure to find the key words they are looking for.
If the job posting seems to be highlighting “soft skills” add a section where you can list the same or similar “soft skills” in a way that will catch the reader’s eye who is looking for that “ideal match”
Again, a great resume is a resume that does its job – allows search engines to “pull up” your resume for a potential employer who is looking for what you have to offer.
- Assuming you have created a resume that contains the key words to get you noticed by most job board search engines, the next step is to ensure your resume makes it easy for the hiring manager to interact with you – e. hold their attention from the point where the resume first appears in their inbox, to the point where you are offered employment.
Here are just a few ideas…
- Make yourself easy to contact…and include your “how to contact me” information at the top of your resume where it is easily seen. If you provide a phone number, make sure it’s a number that is answered in real time. If you provide an email, make sure to respond promptly. Jobs are often lost when candidates aren’t available to respond to employer inquiries.
- If you’re a candidate who is relocating to the area in which you are applying, make sure you give a brief explanation about your current location/contact info being temporary. Busy hiring managers will tend to go right past a resume with an out of state address or phone number assuming the candidate is not readily available, or would require relocation expenses.
- Make sure there are no grammar or typing errors in your resume. Using a second set of eyes to proof read your resume is a must! Need we say more?
- Become a real person – While a working resume should be no more than 2 pages, if you have space to include a section called Personal Information or Other Experiences – don’t be shy about describing yourself in personal terms. Even though it may not help in terms of search engines, providing a brief summary of interesting hobbies, experiences, or volunteer work allows your resume to “come alive” to a reader in ways that the hard content can’t. Making sure your resume tells the story of the “real, full you” will help you stay noticed throughout the hiring process, with multiple decision makers.
Want to know more about preparing your resume for today’s job hunting marketplace? The recruiters at PACE Staffing Network are happy to take a look at your current resume and make suggestions to help “do its job.” To expand your search and meet the “best in class” employers represented by the PACE Staffing Network, contact our Candidate Services team at 425-637-3311 or e mail us email@example.com
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