Are you about to enter the workforce for the first time? Or are you looking for a mid-career change? Either way, your resume is one of the most valuable assets you can own during your job search. A well-written resume can leave a favorable first impression on a prospective employer and highlight key reasons why they should hire you. Ultimately, applying effective resume tips can help you to land your dream job.
Of course, hiring managers for the best job openings often get swamped by all the resumes coming in. It’s no surprise that one study found that, on average, employers only look at resumes for six to seven seconds (at least during their initial “scan”). The point? You only have a short window of time for your resume to attract a hiring manager’s attention.
With that in mind, let’s discuss what hiring managers are looking for in a resume, and how you can craft yours to stand out from the crowd. Here are six resume tips.
6 Resume Tips
1. Your Accomplishments
One of the biggest factors that a hiring manager will consider is a candidate’s track record of success. Employers want to know what you’ve achieved in your years in the field, and how you’ve contributed to finished projects. Moreover, highlight a progression throughout your work history (e.g., promotions you’ve gained over the years, or proficiencies you’ve picked up).
2. Your Skills
Any prospective employer will want to understand what you can bring to the table in terms of both “soft” and “hard” skills. This is especially true in the IT sector, where roles often demand a combination of people skills (e.g., clear communication, effective collaboration, and emotional intelligence) and technical skills (such as programming, troubleshooting, working as a Scrum Master, and so on).
Communicating your unique skill set is so important that it’s often been recommended to include a prominent “Skills” section on the first page of your resume (assuming your resume has multiple pages). Your goal within the first half page or so is to provide the reader with a clear idea of what you can do, especially in the context of their organization. Use objective statements rather than emotional expressions. Some candidates craft a one or two-sentence summary of what they bring to the table (aka, their “mission statement”), and then place that in the header section of their resume.
Unless you have a ton of work experience, and exceptional skills in a variety of applications, it’s best to keep your resume to two pages or less. Remember that hiring managers may have to scan hundreds of resumes every day. The longer the resume is, the less inclined they may be to consider it. In addition, an effective resume serves as the company’s introduction to you. It doesn’t need to include meticulous details to accomplish this objective. You can fill in any knowledge gaps the hiring manager has at a later point, during the interview stage.
4. Layout Consistency
If you want to attract interest in your abilities, then it’s not enough to focus on the content of your resume. You also need to focus on its appearance.
For example, the layout of your resume should be consistent and professional-looking. When you’re listing your job experience, make sure that your dates are all formatted the same (e.g., 10/2018 – 05/2020 if you’re going by month & year). Moreover, you should put down the name of the company when listing a full-time job. For contract roles, add a brief addendum — such as: Acme IT Help Desk (consultant through the Doyle Group).
5. Familiar Terms
Finally, you want to tailor each resume to the organization and job opening you’re targeting. This includes aligning your terminology with something the hiring manager will be familiar with. Use common job titles instead of company-specific ones that only internal members of the organization can understand. (For instance, don’t put “programming ninja” as your role if that was the title internally, but the position was really a software engineer. Not everyone will be familiar with that company-specific terminology.) Here again, you may need to do a bit of digging to see which terms would be most appropriate for the company in question.
6. Your Cover Letter
A concise, well-written cover letter is very impactful in combination with your resume. While many employers don’t expect a cover letter to come with a candidate’s resume, others may still rely on this memo to gauge an applicant’s qualifications and potential.
In your cover letter, include an opening paragraph that highlights why you’re specifically interested in the role and company. How can you contribute to the company’s success? (Do some research while preparing this section to make it especially meaningful.) Next, provide a brief overview of your skills and experience as they relate to the job under discussion. Finally, expand on a story or anecdote that highlights why you’d be a perfect fit for the role.
Many recruiters will be impressed when they see the effort you put into crafting your cover letter. This is another simple yet powerful way you can differentiate yourself from other candidates.
In summary, there are plenty of opportunities out there for motivated job seekers — and your resume can put you over the top when it comes to openings with a lot of competition. Make sure to:
- Highlight your accomplishments and skills.
- Keep your content brief and your layout consistent.
- Use terms that will be familiar to your reader.
- Write a persuasive cover letter.
If you implement the above resume tips, you’re very likely to land the perfect job for your current needs and future goals! And if you’d like even more assistance with your job search, reach out to our team of experts at The Doyle Group today.