How to Attract the Right Attention with Your Resume
While it may seem as if the business world is more unsettled than it ever has been, there are some constants still in place. One of those is that companies are still hiring. The other is that a resume is the giant-sized business card that will get you in the door for a new job you love.
That’s not to say that it’s a piece of cake to land your resume on the desk of the right recruiter or hiring manager. You have to find ways to draw attention to your career and your achievements — and to do that concisely.
Since the first pass at a resume in the professional world is literally seconds, finding those attention points are crucial while also balancing content that is readable beyond that first glance when you’ve really piqued the interest of the folks with the keys to that new job.
Here’s a look at a few things to consider as you develop and craft your resume for a future role.
Don’t be afraid to tout your accomplishments
As a longtime marketing/journalism writer who now helps people craft their resumes, I hear this phrase a lot and it mystifies me somewhat: “I’m not good at bragging about myself.”
This is when I pull out my favorite Muhammad Ali quote: “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.”
If they can see you in that role just from a couple of resume pages, you’ve won the first battle.
To start, it’s important to feel confident enough to make yourself stand out in the context of a resume but for some, that is easier said than done.
“You exude what you believe, so you have to convince yourself you are worthy if you want anyone else to believe you are,” says Liz Heinman, who works as a Chief Strategy Officer and a Sales Performance Coach. She added that it’s important not to overdo the confidence strength.
“Overconfidence is just as dangerous a lack of confidence,” Heinman says. “A good leader can see through cocky pretty quickly. You have to prove your claims and remember, you may be talking to someone who has done things way more impressive than you have.”
To that end, you can use a section of your resume that you can call Core Strengths, Key Accomplishments or Career Highlights to quickly spell out the true facts about your career, simply and plainly. A “quick hit” section like this that’s toward the top of the resume can help you stand out in the mind of the hiring manager.
Call out the skills that pay the bills
One of the most crucial aspects of a resume is transferable skills: the ones that you can bring to any type of career arc instead of specializing in a field. It’s “Strategic Planning” over the “Technology Roadmap Development” in this case.
Heinman noted that it’s more expected for a person to change careers five or more times over their lifetime, as opposed to being a loyal company person for decades. Noting that for yourself makes touting those transferable skills — such as adaptability or change management — that much easier.
“Worry more about the skillset and mindset you bring to the table,” she adds. “Are you willing and able to learn what you need quickly enough to be successful? If you have what it takes, then you need to be able to tell that story effectively.”
A great place to list those skills is in a section we call the Skill Cloud, perched right below your opening Executive Summary. You can choose 9 or 12 skills, lined up neatly in three rows, that cover the waterfront of your career experience. From business acumen skills to broad technical ones to others that speak to your people leadership, try to find the most variety that makes sense for the role you are seeking.
A great place to start developing the text for these skills is on your LinkedIn page. You can have up to 50 skills listed, and that bucket could be an important resource for you as you switch out skills according to the jobs to which you are applying. Plus, having that many skills on your LinkedIn — as long as they aren’t too vague or broad — helps with that site’s search algorithm, so recruiters or hiring managers may find you that way.
Play the ‘show’ game, not the ‘tell’ game
It’s tempting on a resume to just hit the highlights of your duties, all the little components of your role in its many phases over a period of time. Unfortunately, that’s what everyone else does. It’s better instead to not only feature those duties but to also pick out some important end results that you’ve helped create for a company.
Kari Coffey, a Talent Acquisition Manager at IBM and an author of IBM’s Careers Blog, writes in one of her articles that in an age of data and analytics, having quantifiable highlights is important.
“Show us the metrics that prove how you ‘increased company profits,’” she writes. “Tell us if you generated additional hits or revenue — better yet, put them in numeric form so these accomplishments stand out.”
The best place for these would be in the Experience section itself. You can have an opening paragraph for each role that goes over the basic duties, then have bullet points that spell out these accomplishments.
As Coffey states, “While it’s OK to list some of the generic duties you held in a position, we really want you to show us what you’re proud of.”
See your resume with a strategist’s eye
Skills with the word “strategic” are often go-tos on a resume. But, it’s equally important to think strategically when actually picking and choosing what to feature.
The resume is actually more like a summary than a novel of your life’s work. To that end, you eliminate jobs from your career history — especially older or junior roles — and emphasize more what you’ve done for a company within the last few roles.
“You just need to put the skills you have mastered and the jobs you’ve had that are relevant to the job you are applying for on your resume,” says J.T. Donnell, a recruiter and career coach who hosts learning courses for LinkedIn. “Of course, you need enough to show you can do what’s needed to do the job, but you don’t need to go crazy.”
Resume crafting shouldn’t be work that drives you mad, anyway. Being concise and touting the skills that best represent the role you want are the biggest keys to getting that recruiter or hiring manager to take a second look.
Do you have any other helpful resume tips? Or maybe you have a question you need help answering. We’re happy to help! Please comment below and we will respond as quickly as possible.
Mark Earnest is from Reno, Nevada, and he loves words. He loves them so much that he’s made them his career, first as a sports and entertainment journalist and then as a specialist in paid advertising and corporate communications. He even loves words set to really loud music, as he is the frontman for several rock bands in his Northern Nevada.