Let’s face it. Looking for a job today is much easier said than done, especially if you’re new to the working world or jumping into a different field. Just deciding to take the leap is hard enough, but then you have to craft the perfect résumé. As with anything job-related, there are many traps one can fall into when crafting or re-crafting their résumé.
For example, if it’s been a while since you were out pounding the pavement, so to speak, it’s important to know that résumé styles have changed. If you want your application to be taken seriously and stand apart from the rest (in a good way), here are a few tips from seasoned hirers across many fields on how to improve your career calling card.
1. Make sure all experience is relevant to the job for which you’re applying
It’s tempting to just send out the same old résumé every time you apply for a job, especially if they’re all in the same field for the most part. However, unless you’re applying for the exact same position every time, you’ll want to be sure all the experience you have on your résumé is pertinent to the particular position for which you’re currently applying.
Matthew Mercuri, Director of Human Resources at Dupray, told SheKnows, “The best résumés are the one that are tightly relevant to the job description. Applying to become a Web Designer? Unfortunately, your time as a waiter really doesn’t help. Ultimately, we do want to know about that server job, but you need to find the right balance between telling us about your general work experience and your relevant work experience.”
2. Make the pertinent skills for that job jump out at a recruiter
It may sound silly, but putting skills that make you the perfect candidate for the job in bold will help get you in the “interview” pile. Rebecca Barnes-Hogg, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, at Yolo Insights, told SheKnows, “Highlight the skills and experience I asked for in my job posting. I have about 20 seconds to scan your résumé and find the information I need. Don’t make it hard.”
3. Show what you’ve achieved at previous jobs, not just what you did day-to-day
It’s all about proving to the hirer that you have skills that are essential to the job he/she is looking to fill. Show how you’ve gotten from this point to that, and make it look like an ascent, not a flat path. “The information clearly shows a career progression — transferable skills — and showcases contributions and results that are critical aspects of the job I’m filling. I don’t want to see a list of your daily tasks. I want to know what you’ve achieved and why it matters,” said Barnes-Hogg.
4. Put your strengths first, not work experience
If you’re just entering the job market, you might be concerned about your lack of job experience. Don’t be. According to expert hirers, in today’s job market, strengths, if they can be articulated well and prove useful, are often more noteworthy (and attention-drawing) than work experience.
Jeremy Levi, Director of Marketing at MarsMedSupply, told SheKnows, “Work experience can be over-inflated very easily, especially if you worked for a small business. If you can pinpoint your strengths at the top of your résumé, and work on tying it in to your experience, you can stand out from the stack of boring résumés those of us in charge of hiring are inevitably left sifting through.”
5. Use strong verbs
Action words jump out at readers, so the more (relevant) ones you use, the better. Allison Basilica, Social Media Director at Atrium, said, “There are action words that tend to captivate the reader and highlight your accomplishments more thoroughly. Make sure you use a variety of these throughout. Examples include: achieved, managed, delegated, generated, established, increased, etc.” You also want to use keywords that will connect your résumé to the type of job you want, so it pops up when recruiters look for applicants.
6. Take out your career objective
You might delve into this if you score an interview, but many recruiters believe this section is obsolete. Basilica suggests replacing it with a “qualifications” section that should be tailored specifically to the job for which you’re applying.
7. Keep information short, simply and, above all, clear
Remember, whoever’s reading your résumé is skimming for the big points. You want to make those big points up front in a career summary section, then outline the rest of your career with bold-titled subsections. And whatever you do, don’t have any large paragraphs on there.
Dr. Heather Rothbauer-Wanis, owner of Feather Communications, told SheKnows, “When people see large blocks of text with little to no separation, they typically decide not to read the information. If you can use bullets and phrases instead of large paragraphs with complete sentences, it will be easier to capture the attention of the reader.”
In today’s job market, it’s also acceptable to include hyperlinks on your résumé. However, you probably don’t need to, because most online applications ask for those links elsewhere.
8. Font size and style are key
Not only do you want to make sure recruiters can read your résumé, but you also want it to be eye-catching. That means going with a font that’s more interesting than Times New Roman. If you’re applying to jobs in creative fields, you can get a bit funkier with your font style, but don’t go overboard with it. Above all, it’s important that the style is large and legible enough for anyone to skim quickly.
9. If you’re applying for a job in a creative field… get creative!
You can and should find a less two-dimensional way to stand out from the crowd. After all, recruiters are looking to hire fully three-dimensional people, so you should find a way to show that you, in fact, are one. Kelly Poulson, Vice President of Talent & Operations at the marketing firm Allen & Gerritsen, encourages applicants to find a way to infuse a little of their personality into their résumés. If you have to send in a paper application, that’s fine, but perhaps create a Tumblr page to go along with it, like this amazing one. In case you were curious, yes, she got the job.
Now that you’re armed with all these great tips from professional recruiters, go out, land those interviews and start your exciting new careers!