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January 25, 2021
As a career coach who has worked with hundreds of individuals across all phases of the career journey, the #1 question I get asked is:
This question has become more relevant in recent years with the immense popularity of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), or computer programs that scan resumes for keywords before they are passed on to hiring managers.
While these technologies have brought employers increased efficiency and convenience, they have also created a gap in the job market between candidates who are qualified for a role and those who understand the power of keywords.
Thankfully, hope isn’t lost, because there are really easy ways to create effective resumes that can get past a computer AND impress a recruiter, and I’m going to share 3 of my favorite strategies with you today.
Whenever I build a resume, I never build it for my clients, but for the jobs they are applying for.
That means studying 5+ similar job descriptions, scanning for all possible keywords & noting the common tasks they are asking for. This allows me to create a targeted story that highlights my clients’ accomplishments in relation to the job they are applying for, not in regards to their careers as a whole.
Many job seekers create a blanket resume that speaks to a multitude of capabilities, tasks and skills to appear well-rounded without verifying if any of them are even in the job description. This approach will not benefit you but actually penalize you, because every word counts, so if it’s not listed in the job description, don’t include it. Instead, think of a way to reword your language so that it aligns with what the employer is asking for.
Recommendation: Create a list of the top keywords & tasks in your industry in a spreadsheet and include them all in your resume across your experience, about section and skills
99% of the resumes I review list out the tasks the owner performed without ever listing a single outcome.
While I’m currently a content marketer, I spent the first 5 years of my career in sales, and I learned very quickly that results sell much more quickly than product attributes do. That’s why I build resumes that follow this format:
Here’s an example:
Led certification programs for producers in multiple countries focusing on Fair Trade principles
New results-driven bullet:
The difference between the first and second statement are the results, combined with job-specific keywords that tell a descriptive story and immediately communicate to both a computer and a hiring manager that this candidate is an excellent fit for the role.
Recommendation: List out all the tasks you performed in each role, then think about the outcomes you helped drive with quantifiable KPIs (costs saved, revenues driven, efficiencies gained, stakeholders impacted, etc)
1 page resumes are the industry standard for any role beneath a VP.
Hiring managers will give your resume 6 seconds of attention, and if they can’t get a good impression of your fit for the role in that timeframe, you will get passed over. That isn’t meant to be discouraging news, but rather an insight to encourage you to format your resume in a way that makes it skimmable.
To help recruiters out, I create 4 separate sections for my clients:
About: 3 – 4 sentences with keywords that immediately call out the candidate’s areas of expertise & 3 super powers that differentiate them from their competitors. This will help a recruiter get to know your background & strengths right off the bat.
Experience: 3-4 roles with bullet points that follow the results-driven formatting listed above. I also bold keywords and metrics so that they pop.
Education: List out your schooling & any additional certifications or areas of focus.
Skills: I only include this section for technical roles or if I see certain technologies listed in multiple job descriptions. Do your research to decide if you need to include it or not. Words like ‘project management’, ‘excellent communicator’ or ‘detail-oriented’ don’t belong here – include them in the About.
If you have more questions about creating a high-converting resume that will increase your chances of getting hired, feel free to send me an email at email@example.com or check me out on LinkedIn. Job hunting is never fun, but with the right strategy and approach, it can be much more effective and even rewarding.