Looking for a job can be an exciting but overwhelming experience. I understood; No one likes to receive dreaded rejection emails, and nothing is more frustrating or discouraging than sending 20 or more applications and receiving zero responses. Maybe you have the exact experience of a hiring manager, but you might not be telling your story right. Or it’s possible that your resume isn’t getting past the strict algorithms that scan resumes for keywords.
If you are wondering what you can do to differentiate yourself from other candidates, then you are at the right place. From choosing the right keywords to designing the ideal layout, building a great resume is no easy feat. But you are perfectly capable of getting the job done – no pun intended.
- Customize Your Resume for Your Industry
When you are creating your description for your roles, you should include all of your skills and experience that are related to the job you are applying for. Read through the desired job description and see how you can tailor your resume to show that you have the skills they are looking for in a candidate.
You may want to have a few different versions of your resume depending on the types of roles you want. For example, if you work in marketing and are interested in a few different roles within that industry, you might have a resume specific to SEO content marketing, a resume specific to PPC campaigns. One could be and the other could be specific to email marketing.
- Use Headers
You can think of your header as a business card right below your name and at the top of your resume. This should include your job title, phone number, email address and your location. If you have a link to your portfolio, you should add it there as well, along with any certifications and/or desirable credentials.
It helps to hire managers to see what your goal is right away, without having to put up with your resume.
Here’s an example:
This is just one example, but you can find some more here, along with some useful tips for making your headers unique.
- Make sure your resume is clean, concise and error-free
Hiring managers and recruiters are usually overwhelmed with resumes and cover letters to scrutinize and manage. Advance yourself by making sure your resume is easy to read and free of spelling and grammatical errors. Keep the content concise; Simplicity goes a long way!
Additionally, hyperlinking to your portfolio or LinkedIn profile is an easy way to conserve space and keep your resume clean and easy to navigate.
- Don’t Go Wild With Fonts and Colors
Look, even if you’re creative and want to show off your talents, your resume isn’t really the best place to do that. Your portfolio may be stocked with relevant works, but your resume should still be easy to read and formatted to look both modern and professional.
You can add a border to your resume or use some color in a tasteful way, but sticking to a clean and simple resume ensures that it will be legible across all platforms. Readability is huge when it comes to creating an effective resume, so make sure any color you use is easy on the eyes.
- Include Industry Keywords
If the job description has certain keywords (and it almost undoubtedly does), your resume should have them, too. Many companies today use one way or another to find keywords when sorting resumes. This means that for your resume to be seen, you need to include those keywords in your resume.
This can be a difficult process, which is why I suggest keeping a few different versions of your resume on deck, depending on what roles you’re applying for. But either way, make sure your resume includes the right keywords for the role. Taking the time to do this is a surefire way to ensure that your resume stands out.
All that said, don’t overdo it! Yes, it is possible to “keyword stuff” your resume. While some companies’ algorithms initially sift through resumes, eventually the person reading your resume will be able to see that you’ve filled in a bunch of keywords in your description. Nobody likes to see this. Hiring managers have looked at enough resumes for the past ten lifetimes and can easily see if someone is guilty of keyword stuffing in hopes of getting past algorithms’ other details.
6. Include those metrics!
Anyone can write about or fluff up the role they did while at a company. So, if you want to show hiring managers all that value you can bring to their company, you need to include metrics. Including your quantifiable achievements helps to hire managers to get a better idea of the kind of results they can expect from you.
Every industry is different, so if you need help deciding which metrics to include and how they should be included, check out this site that goes into further detail.
- Don’t need any bullshit
Unless you’ve been absurdly lucky throughout your career, you’ve likely had some less-than-ideal experiences at previous companies, or perhaps even your current one. Do not include negative information or descriptions about anyone or anything, neither in your resume nor in your cover letter.
And, it should go without saying, but you really shouldn’t be talking to past or current employers or teammates in your interview. You’re above it, and it’s never a good look.
- Create a Cover Letter That Tells Your Story
While your resume should convey your professional story in the most concise and effective way possible, your cover letter can really show the hiring manager your professional experiences, achievements and how you have evolved over the years.
The top three things that should be included in a cover letter are how your work experience meets the requirements of the job, how your skills meet the requirements of the job and the reasons why you want to work in the organization.
Your cover letter needs to show the reader that you are the perfect person for the job. You don’t need to include any hobbies; Just stick to showing your skill and how it is relevant to the job.
Keep in mind that hiring managers often see the same phrases and claims over and over again. You might consider using a template and refer to Glassdoor’s blog on writing a solid cover letter to make sure your cover letter isn’t like everyone else’s.
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