Write a "career snapshot" summary
In recent years, career experts have urged job seekers to do away with the old "objective" statement and instead, include a brief summary or "career snapshot" at the top of their resume.
"With the 'career snapshot' you present a branding statement that briefly explains your unique value as well as your skills and qualifications. This would then be followed by a few bullet points that highlight your experience and your accomplishments," said Tomer Sade, CEO of Wise Data Media Insights. "Whatever you list here should be relevant to the position you're applying to."
"The top third of your resume is prime resume real estate," added Lisa Rangel, an executive resume writer and official LinkedIn moderator at ChameleonResumes.com. "Create a robust summary to capture the hiring manager's eye."
Sade noted that some recruiters do still want to see a career objective, so if you do choose to include it, make sure it's brief.
"The idea is to get the relevant information about yourself out there and across to the recruiter," he said.
Watch your keywords
If you're applying to a larger company, be aware that a real, human hiring manager may not ever even look at your resume if it doesn't fit the job criteria entered into their applicant tracking system (ATS). Trish O'Brien, vice president of human resources at Caliper, emphasized the importance of adapting your resume to the position to increase your chances of getting through that initial screen.
"Make sure you've carefully reviewed the posting, and be sure to use the appropriate key words in your resume to get past the screener adapt your resume accordingly," O'Brien said. "Be truthful, but understand that the first pass on your resume is likely via an ATS."
"Customize your resume for every single job application," added Dana Locke, certified professional resume writer (CPRW) and manager of the resume and research departments at Impact Group. "No need to totally reinvent the wheel if you have a strong resume that focuses on your accomplishments, but make sure the specific qualifications and keywords from that particular job posting show up in your resume."
Go beyond your job tasks
Hiring managers don't just want to read a list of your day-to-day routine; they want to see concrete examples of the difference you've made for your previous employers. Rangel noted that listing specific merits, rather than just your experiences, is more engaging to read. For example, "I have reduced operating expenses by 23 percent in six months" is much more interesting to an employer than, "I have 30 years of sales experience," she said.
Similarly, Cheryl Hyatt, CEO of Hyatt-Fennell Executive Search, advised including any promotions or recognitions you've received since your last resume update. "Integrate recent achievements and awards into the existing format," Hyatt said. "Conversely, it may be time to trim off items you listed previously that are no longer relevant to your focus.
You shouldn't ignore your skills section, either. Sade reminded job seekers to list any industry-relevant apps or programs they're familiar with, as well as find ways to incorporate examples of their soft skills (e.g. work ethic, multitasking, reliability, etc.) into their job descriptions.
Use the right language stand out
Trite, lackluster descriptions of your job duties and accomplishment won't do you any favors when you're writing a resume. Make sure you're using strong, action-oriented words like achieved, created, improved and managed to describe your roles and projects, said Sade. This, he said, will make you sound confident while still imparting vital information.
"Try to avoid over-used, one-time trendy words that … no longer have real meaning and don't help differentiate you from everyone else," Sade told Business News Daily. "Words such as professional, results-driven and detail-oriented provide very little helpful information. It’s better to use actual job titles than these words."
Diya Obeid, founder and CEO of applicant tracking software JobDiva, agreed, noting that "buzzwords" like best of breed, go-getter, team player and go-to person should be removed from your resume.
So how should you write about your career accomplishments? Hyatt advised asking yourself the following questions about a project to help you list it on your resume: What planning was involved? How did you approach the change? How did you communicate with staff? What evaluation measures did you carry out once the project was complete?
"Think through all aspects of a task and describe it using active and positive language," Hyatt said.
List your social media profiles
It's a well-known fact that many hiring managers today search for potential candidates on social networks. Save them a step by providing your profile links on your resume. Seasoned applicants with an existing professional social presence would do well to include URLs for their LinkedIn profile, Twitter account and blog, if applicable.
"If, and only if, your social media accounts are filled with professional posts pertaining to your industry, listing them on your resume can be advantageous," said Richie Frieman, author of "Reply All (St. Martin's Griffin, 2013). "They can show you have a strong network and are up to speed with modern-day marketing and communications practices. The hiring manager will see that you like to keep up with what's happening, and that you care about learning more."
Never lie on your resume
You might think there's no harm in stretching the truth (or outright making something up) to catch a hiring manager's attention, but any lie, even a small one, can come back to haunt you.
"Even if you somehow manage to get past the background check with the lie in your resume intact, a serious problem still awaits you once you start the job," Obeid said. "If you said you had certain skills or experiences on your resume, you can be sure your employer will expect you demonstrate those abilities on the job. But if you can't really do what you said you could on your resume, then that will soon become apparent."
Proofread, proofread, proofread
Triple-check your own work, and then have someone else look over your resume to ensure it's 100 percent clean. There's no room for sloppiness on your resume, said Obeid — a hiring manager might automatically dismiss your application if they spot a typo or grammatical error.
"Make sure it's error-free and easy to read. HR reps equate typos and errors with laziness," Obeid said. "Use good English — the written word has a huge impact on the employer."
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