How To Make Sure Your Resume Is Right For The Job

No resume is ever perfect. You might have selected the perfect font, put together the crispest heading and explained your crazy amount of experience. But all that smooth, flowing work history is bound to need re-arranging once it smashes up against the sharp rocks of the job search.

Frankly, almost every application is going to require little tweaks to your resume to guarantee success. Your painting in broad strokes while recruiters are looking for a photorealistic rendering of the person they want. But that’s no reason to lose hope. You just have to work hard to be given the opportunity to maybe, one day work hard.

Here’s a few tips to make sure that your resume is as close to perfect as any one piece of paper can get.

Include keywords from the job posting in your resume

This is the easiest and perhaps most-crucial step in getting through the callouses that the average hiring manager has over the CV-scanning part of their brain. People are attuned to respond positively to people who speak like them. (Semi-related fun fact: when people like each other, their accents move closer together over the course of a conversation. Cute and scientific!) If you reflect the words that they chose back to them, you’re not only piquing their interest in this way, but you’re guaranteeing that you address their specific needs.

Resume Tip: You can shorten this process significantly by searching for 10-15 jobs in your field and noting the skills that all the listings have in common. Be sure to list those words in your skills section.

K.I.S.S.

Don’t have to talk dirty, baby,  to impress recruiters. While we don’t imagine you’re chucking vulgarities into your bullet points, there’s more than one way that a resume can be unclean. Follow the acronym K.I.S.S. (“Keep it simple, stupid.”) to keep yourself in line of you’re thinking about adding a little too much flair to your application. The less you have going on with your resume, the easier it is for people (and the machines that aid them) to read. A few quick and easy resume tips under the KISS umbrella:

  • Use standard fonts: Arial, Calibri, Georgia, Times New Roman and the like
  • Try to avoid tables, graphs or pictures
  • Save it in a widely used format like .docx or .pdf

The average hiring manager spends less than seven seconds looking at your resume before making a decision on whether or not it’s going in the trash. Make it easy to read or you’re going in the worst kind of outbox.

Use task/result structure

Instead of telling hiring managers what your job responsibilities were, try telling them what you did specifically that made your last workplace better.

Here’s a comparison of two bullet points:

BAD:

  • Ran fundraising campaigns

GOOD:

  • Launched a fundraising campaign that raised $10,000 in 8 weeks which extended runway for X months

Take note of the use of numbers, too. Quantifiable impacts are catnip to hiring managers.

Isn’t there an easier way?

Of course! We understand that all of this can be a hassle. It’s very hard to land a job and making sure that your resume is on point every time is a lot to keep in your head. So, why not use ours? Our collective brainpower and our ResumeOptimizer tool can help make sure that you never send out a bad resume again. For just $10, we’ll clean up your resume to fit the positions you want and automatically send it out to the people who are looking for you! And we stand behind our work, guaranteeing that we’ll land you an interview or your money back.

Did you like this post? Share it with your friends!

Resume Makeover! Getting Riley a Digital Marketing Job.

This week in Resume Makeover, we’re featuring… “Riley” (*). (* Names changed to protect the innocent.)

Riley is a recent MBA graduate with an economics background looking to break into the digital marketing industry. In the newer age of marketing, skills related to online content strategy, SEO, social media management, etc. are in high demand, so why not gain those skills and be part of the hiring party?

With little luck after graduating (and consistently applying to 15+ jobs per week), Riley contacted us. We immediately saw how his resume might be stunting his job search. It had too much visual flair and was overwhelmingly dense. Resume-filtering bots are the first filter against your resume — they get easily confused.

Here’s Riley’s resume makeover:

We made three visual changes to Riley’s resume:

1. Simplify the formatting of your resume. These days most employers use an ATS (Application Tracking System) to do the initial candidate screen. Make sure your resume is free of images, tables, and even columns so it doesn’t trip up the software!

2. Avoid crazy colors and weird backgrounds in your resume. Many people are tempted to add color to their resume in attempt to be unique. Unfortunately, screen displays vary and ink can be pricy — keep it simple by sticking to black & white. Tip: Bring the fancier, more visual version of your resume to the interview instead.

3. Choose one classic font and use it throughout your resume. Unique or designer fonts can be visually intriguing but the risk when using them is that it doesn’t render correctly on someone else’s computer. So keep it all simply by choosing a classic font and using the same one all through your resume. Reminder: you can always bring a printed, fancy resume to your interview!

And, of course, content changes as well:

4. Make your skills section more prominent, readable, and comprehensive. Separate your skills into broader categories and make sure it lists all the tools/industry-specific skills you list in your experiences. Remember, recruiters only look at your resume for 6 sections and your skill set is going to be one of the first places they check — so make it good!

5. Group all your relevant experience together. Move your “Side Hustle” position under “Work Experience” as it’s just as relevant as your other professional positions and should be showcased as such. Remember, relevant experience is more important than whether or not the position was paid/an unofficial position.

6. Be more concise with your tasks/achievements (3-5 bullet points). Each experience shouldn’t have subsections or too many bullet points, especially if it wasn’t an executive position. Combine like items and get rid of any achievements that start with passive verbs or don’t display ownership/positive impact on the company.

7. Simplify your education and watch out for spelling errors! There’s a whole lot of honors societies (with greek names) out there, and truth be told, employers gloss over them; what matters is the raw GPA. Also, we all make silly mistakes, but it’s extra silly if programs spot our errors and we still don’t fix them.

8. Remove irrelevant (or less relevant) experiences. Unless your extracurriculars/hobbies are something you know the hiring manager will be impressed by or able to connect on (e.g. same frat/sorority), get rid of it. Often times recruiters will see this as filler on a resume, which they’re not too fond of.

Did you like this post? Share it with your friends!

Resume Makeover! Getting James a Software Developer Job at Graduation

This week in Resume Makeover, we’re featuring… “James” (*). (* Names changed to protect the innocent.)

James is graduating from college in December 2017 and was looking to get his first real, grown-up job: Software Developer. (Despite the shortage of software developers in many cities, it’s still very hard for any single person to actually get a job. Nearly 79% of college graduates don’t have a job at graduation.) After a few weeks, dozens of job applications and no interviews, he started getting anxious about his job search and stumbled onto TalentWorks. He wavered a bit initially (who are these new guys?) but, in the end, decided it wasn’t worth being a statistic and signed up.

When James contacted us, we immediately saw his potential but also saw why he might be having trouble. It was full of filler content! And all of that was hiding his real, demonstrable skills.

Here’s James’ resume makeover, as done (yet again) by our stellar TalentAdvocate, Erin:

We made 5 key improvements to his resume:

  1. Add a link to your online portfolio or website. Especially in tech, folks are looking for proof that a candidate’s a good software developer. How do they do that? By looking at past projects & code quality — be it a personal website or portfolio, or a GitHub profile with a bunch of projects, they want to see your skills in play. So show them!
  2. Remove the Objective statement. Just like Bobby’s Overview in our first Resume Makeover, Objectives are an outdated practice. This short sentence is pretty vague and fluffy and is better left off the page.
  3. Remove your Coursework. If you’re aiming to land a job in your field, it’s fair to assume that the recruiter/manager will know what classes took because core classes are uniform across schools (for the most part). Instead, translate what you learned in those classes into industry relevant skills/concepts to add to your “Skills” section.
  4. Add a proper “Skills” section. A lot of recruiters want to beeline to an easy to digest summary of your skillset to determine if you have the baseline skills/qualifications to carry out the job. So make it easy to find! Summarize 
  5. Remove the “Community Leadership” section. Though commendable for getting involved in your community and embracing leadership opportunities, we recommend only including this type of work if the duties are directly related to your career goals or if you are applying for positions within the nonprofit sector. Otherwise it could detract recruiters’ eyes to this section rather than concentrate on all the other areas of your resume that counts!

After James made these optimizations, he immediately started getting interviews through ApplicationAssistant, and in just 9 days accepted a job offer! Here’s what James had to say:

I’m really happy with how TalentWorks optimized my resume! Your suggestions on how to cut out the filler and make the key points stand out have made a huge difference. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to sign up!

No James, it was all you all the way — we were just a coach and a cheerleader. Go you!

Did you like this post? Share it with your friends!

Introducing Resume Makeover! Bobby: Looking for a Project Management Job

This month, we’re kicking off a new series: Resume Makeover. Think Extreme Home Makeover meets the job search.

Every day, we see amazing, potential-filled people with terrible resumes. And we wonder, “If you made these 3-4 tiny changes, your job search would be so much easier! Why  are you making it so much harder for yourself?!”

Which brings us to Resume Makeover. Here’s how it’ll work:

  • Each week, we’ll feature a resume from a real person who asked our mentors to review their resumes.
  • We’ll then makeover their resume top to bottom, both visually and content-wise.
  • When we’re able to get the data, we’ll actually show you how much of a difference it made in their interview rate.
  • And, of course, as with all good makeovers, we’ll definitely have a before-and-after pic!

Our first volunteer is… well, we want this to be at least a little anonymous, so we’ll call him Bobby. Bobby was looking for a Project Management position, but after several weeks of searching on his own hadn’t gotten any replies from employers. When Bobby contacted us, we immediately understood why he was having trouble (no college degree) but also so the potential in Bobby’s unique experiences (FEMA!).

Here’s Bobby’s resume makeover as done by our Erin, one of our amazing TalentAdvocates:

We made 5 key improvements to Bobby’s original resume:

  1. Remove high school education.  Unless you’re looking for a college internship (and arguably even then), recruiters don’t really care which high school you attended. Instead highlight your certifications and include where you received them and when they expire.
  2. Relocate “Technical Skills” section. Would recommend moving it to right after your “Certifications” section because these sorts of industry skills are important and need to be more visible.
  3. Remove the “Overview” section.  Overviews are becoming an outdated practice because they’re often verbose, vague, and add very little value to the resume. Unless you’ve tailored that overview for a specific opportunity at a specific company, e.g. completely customized, you’re better off leaving it out.
  4. Start achievements with strong action verbs. Action verbs imply more ownership and clarity, e.g. provided project management vs project managed; provided cost estimation vs. performed cost estimation.
  5. Flesh out achievements with measurable impact.  Recruiters are looking for more than your job description in your resume — they’re looking to see how you successfully carried out those responsibilities and contributed to company success. Think of the specific tasks you performed and how they created a measurable, positive impact on the company, e.g. Ran cost estimation on company’s equipment, materials and labor which C-level executives used to adjust and reduce company’s overall costs by 11%.

And a few other small adjustments:

  1. Double check everything is filled out properly. Add the proper City and State to the FEMA role (right now it says “FEMA, CITY, STATE” with no location).
  2. Remove “Volunteer Work.” Unless the duties in your volunteer work are directly related to your career goals or if you’re applying for positions within the nonprofit sector, would recommend you get rid of it. Or modify so that your volunteering utilizes or hones skills that’d be an asset in your future job.
  3. Remove the line “References Available Upon Request”.  Similar to the overview, this is seen as an outdated practice. Recruiters will ask for your references if appropriate — they don’t need a written reminder of this on your resume.

We checked in with Bobby the other day. Here’s what he had to say to to his TalentAdvocate, Erin:

I’ve had so much activity since you helped me with my resume! I went from not getting any calls to getting 4 last week. I had 2 phone screening interviews last week,[and] I feel much better about my search now. Thank you! Looking forward to seeing what this week brings.

Want Erin to optimize your resume? Sign up for ApplicationAssistant and ask for Erin!

Did you like this post? Share it with your friends!