How to get your resume noticed by employers
It can be a challenge to get your resume noticed by employers, but there are ways to tweak it and move it beyond the applicant tracking systems (ATS) that employers now frequently use to provide an initial screening of the dozens, if not hundreds, of job applications they receive. There are a few simple changes you can make to help your resume stand out from the crowd when a hiring manager reviews it.
These quick and easy-to-do tips will help get your resume past the screening systems and noticed by recruiters. Here’s how to update your resume in just a few minutes.
- Be Sure You’re a Good Fit for the Job
Make sure you meet the qualifications. Qualifications for being considered for a job are usually listed at the bottom of the job ad. Make sure you have at least the minimum required qualifications to be considered. Otherwise, you’re wasting everyone’s time, your own included. Review these tips for decoding a job ad.
- Show the Employer That You’re Qualified
Customize your resume. Don’t send the same generic resume in for every job. Take the time to customize it by including the qualifications and skills the company is looking for so the employer knows you have the right stuff. As well as writing your resume to match the job, take a few minutes to update your job descriptions so they make the best impression.
Focus on your accomplishments. The employer wants to know what you accomplished, not just what you did. Focus your resume upon what you achieved in each job, not your job responsibilities. Review these tips for including accomplishments on a resume, and make sure you’ve included your most current achievements.
Include your most relevant skills. The screening system that employers use matches your resume to a designated set of qualifications. Include keywords on your resume that match the job-specific skills the employer is seeking.
Add a cover letter. A cover letter, even if it’s not required, is the best way to highlight the specific qualifications you have for the job. CareerBuilder reports that sending a cover letter is 40% more likely to get your resume noticed. You can use your cover letter to focus on the experience that best suits you for the job. Here’s how to write a cover letter for a resume.
Use a connection. Getting your resume into the hands of the right person can help you get an interview. Your goal is to get your resume read; knowing someone who can help that happen will make a big difference in the outcome of your application. Referrals are the number one source of new hires. Here’s how to get one.
- Focus on Formatting
Use a basic font. The best font to use is a simple font such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri. Be sure to use a font size that’s readable—10 to 12 points works best. Use bold and italics to highlight job titles and employers.
Add a skills section. Adding a skills section to your resume is another good way to show that you’re a good fit for the job. Here’s what to include plus examples.
Add a headline or profile. A brief, eye-catching headline or profile is a great way to grab the reader’s attention. Be sure that it focuses on what you can offer the employer, not on what you want from a job. Here’s information on including a profile instead of an objective on a resume.
Move the education section to the bottom. Focus on your work experience (typically in reverse chronological order), then put your education and other information at the bottom of your resume. You don’t need to include the name of your high school or your GPA if it’s been a while since you graduated.
Here’s when to take your GPA off your resume.
- Make a Match
Make sure your resume matches the job posting. The closer a match your resume is to the job qualifications, the better your chance of getting selected for an interview. Make a list of the qualifications the employer wants, and then be sure to include as many as possible in your resume. Review these tips for matching your qualifications to a job description for an easy way to make a match.
You can find the specific skills and attributes the employer is looking for in the job posting.
Match your resume to LinkedIn. It’s a good idea to include the URL of your LinkedIn profile on your resume. It’s even better if you personalize your LinkedIn URL so that it includes your name. Do take the time to make sure your resume matches your LinkedIn profile. Employers will check.
- Share Your Achievements
Getting hired is a numbers game. Employers like to see quantifiable achievements on resumes. Include numbers wherever possible and use numbers, not words, when you’re listing them. For example, write “30%,” not “thirty percent.” Here’s how to include numbers on your resume. Add information. If your resume is light on paid full-time work experience that qualifies you for the job, it’s fine to add internships, part-time jobs, and volunteer experience.
- Stick to the Basics
Keep it simple. Boring works when it comes to most resumes. A simple format is easier for the ATS to screen and easier for recruiters to read. Save the fancy formatting for your portfolio if you’re in a design field. Review these resume formatting guidelines to get started. Be concise. Less is more when it comes to words on a resume. Use brief, action-oriented sentences that describe your role at each employer. Here’s a list of the top words to include (and to leave off) your resume.
- Get Rid of the Clutter
Get rid of old jobs. You don’t need to include all your work experience on your resume. If you have a lengthy work history, the last 10—15 years is plenty. You may be required to list them all on job applications, but your resume is a synopsis of your employment history, not your life story. Get rid of non-essential information. Your resume is professional, not personal. You should not include information about your personal life, family, hobbies, or anything else not related to work.
- Before You Send Your Resume
Check for typos. Resume errors matter: don’t think a spelling or grammatical error won’t get picked up. Unfortunately, the mistake will jump right off the page and get noticed. Grammarly is a terrific tool for making sure that your resume and cover letters are perfect.
Give it a recognizable name. Don’t call your resume “resume”—take a second or two to personalize the file name to FirstLastNameResume.doc—that way it’s clearly recognizable as your resume to recruiters and hiring managers.
Save it as a PDF. If you save your resume as a PDF, you won’t have to worry about funky formatting or the recruiter seeing a garbled mess. Unless the employer requires a different format, send a PDF so readers can view your resume exactly as you want it to look.
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