Welcome to job hunting. It’s difficult, confusing, exhausting, and overwhelming.
Well, it can be…unless you have an idea of what to do to make yourself the ideal candidate. At RL Canning, we view dozens of resumes and conduct numerous interviews everyday which has given us solid information on what to do, and more importantly, what not to do from the moment you type up your resume to the moment you scribble your signature on the acceptance letter. Here are four tips that can make a world of difference when a recruiter takes a look at your resume:
1) Give your resume an “intro”.
The first impression you can make with most businesses is through your resume—it’s your signature item. Your resume is written proof of all of your strengths and highlights all of your best qualities in relation to the position you’re applying for. Start with a short summary at the beginning of your resume that outlines your skill set, your career history, and what sets you apart from other candidates. The summary should give a general overview of your abilities, desires, passions, and skillsets and essentially give the reader and idea of what the resume will reflect. For example:
Laura Smith is a seasoned and personable IT professional with 10 years of experience in a variety of industry roles, including: desktop support, network support, and IT consulting. A passionate collaborator, Laura is most engaged when working within an energetic and competitive team environment. With a strong understanding of cloud-based networking and an inherent drive for success, Laura will add substantial value to any growing company.
The 3rd-person format of the summary may seem a bit strange, but by referring to yourself in the third person, the connection of your name to your skills is strengthened at the very start of your resume. Also, we were able to not only give a quick snapshot of the type of candidate Laura is, but we were also able to outline previous roles, and specific technologies she specializes in. Most importantly, we were able to sneak in what LAURA is looking for in a company—she prefers competitive, team-based environments. With all of this information, the recruiter should have an idea of if this resume will match up for the position they’re trying to fill.
2) Keep your Resume Organized, Detailed, and Specific.
It’s crucial that you make sure your resume is filled with good, organized content! Use bullet points, appropriate punctuation, and strong descriptions to provide resume content in an orderly, organized way that won’t make a recruiter’s eyes bleed. And when it comes to filling your resume with content, don’t be shy! Some advice floats around with the suggestion that all resumes should be under 1 page in length, but if you’ve garnered a variety of skills, from a variety of jobs then why would you want to limit yourself?
When outlining your career history, make sure to be as detailed as possible. Most recruiters are hungry for any information that will point out a diversity of skills and experience, so list as much information as you feel is necessary–WITH ONE CAVEAT: make sure that all of the information you put down is specific. For example:
I provided desktop support.
I was a primary desktop support resource to a 2,000 end-user enterprise, resulting in an average of 30 ticket resolutions per day.
Your resume is meant to paint a specific picture of who you are as a candidate, and what separates you from the competition. I can promise that a lot of your competition also “provided desktop support”. Be specific. Give numbers. You’ll be asked to expand upon any ambiguity in future interviews.
3) Read the job description.
You’d be surprised just how often this advice isn’t followed. It’s wild how often I come across resumes of people that do not match the basic requirements of the job being applied to at all. Reading the job description is for your benefit as well as the benefit of the company that will be reading your application. Many people who are desperate for a job will head online to one of the many job board sites available to them (indeed, CareerBuilder, Monster, etc.) and wildly submit their application indiscriminately to a variety of job postings, hoping that by chance one of the many random job postings they applied to will be a perfect fit for them.
Don’t do that!!!
That never works, and can even discourage career providers from considering you in the future. It’s not a coincidence that one of the most commonly sought characteristics of any potential candidate is “detail-oriented”—do you think blind-applying for a job is a very “detail-oriented” move? Instead, when you come across a job opportunity that meets your interests, read the description, update your resume and personal summary to emphasize the portions of your resume that match what the employer is looking for, and fire away.
4) Know Your Audience.
With any piece of writing, it’s important to know who’s going to be reading it. With that in mind, be willing to customize or re-format your resume based on the position you’re applying for. As a person, you can never be fully defined by a piece of paper, so it makes sense that your resume can be reformatted in multiple ways that truthfully depict very different pictures of you as a candidate. What your resume really boils down to is: what is your value as an employee, and how will that value translate over to the business you’re applying to?
To find the best way to effectively answer that question, start by following the tip listed above, which I’d like to reiterate: READ THE JOB DESCRIPTION. After reading it, underline or highlight key phrases or keywords used in describing the position. Then, use those keywords or phrases to influence the work experience and work experience descriptions you choose for your resume.
For example, if the job description states that the role will be “responsible for operating within a fast-paced, collaborative environment” then that should be a red flag that you need to make sure that your resume mentions a background working in a collaborative, fast-paced environment at some point in your history—whether it be at a fast food restaurant or an IT Service Desk. At times, it may be difficult to find experience that lines up completely with your job history, but don’t be afraid to be creative and dive deeper into extra-curricular activities or volunteer work that you’ve done that may fill in some of those gaps.
Polishing your resume and tailoring the information you emphasize within it will help raise the chances of getting a call back and move you onto the next stage of the job searching process: interviewing. In the next article, we’ll lay out tips for how to prepare for interviews and how to best conduct yourself in those interviews to ensure you are remembered as a stand-out candidate.
Patrick Ebersole is in charge of candidate Sourcing at RL Canning. RL Canning is an Information Technology services provider dedicated to making our customers successful. Learn more at www.rlcanning.com. Follow us on Twitter (@rlcanning) and LinkedIn (linkedin.com/company/rl-canning). Make sure to check out our employment page (rlcanning.com/employment) to find your next big career opportunity.