Did you know? You have 6 seconds to make an impression with a recruiter. It’s true, the average amount of time a recruiter spends on your resume is S-I-X seconds. Let’s make it count!
Throughout my 15+ years as an HR leader, I can tell you first-hand that these stats are accurate; recruiters and hiring leaders will skim your resume — if it doesn’t make an impression, you will get passed over. The goal of your resume is to make it as easy as possible for the reader to know you’re the BEST person for the job. Articulating your experience and career aspirations on one piece of paper is both an art and a science. It’s especially challenging when you’re in your own head all.the.time. Outlined below are FOUR guidelines to refresh your resume, stand out, and grab that recruiter’s attention.
Identify transferrable experiences and skills.
Transferrable skills and experiences are defined as those used in one role or industry that would also be useful in another role, a new company, or a different sector. Start by dissecting the job description to understand what they are looking for in a candidate. Outline the TOP 3 to 5 experiences and the TOP 3 to 5 skills they need. From there, match your personal and professional skills and experiences accordingly. Most job seekers think their resume is all about regurgitating their entire work history; instead, hit the highlights and relate it to your future role. You’re much more likely to move forward in the hiring process. For more on transferrable skills, check out the Ultimate Guide to Transferrable Skills.
- Use language from the job description in your resume. This allows the reader to easily spot keywords, making it more likely they will move you to the next step in the process. For example, if you thrive when working independently and the job description specifically states they’re looking for someone who is “self-motivated,” use the word “self-motivated” instead of independent.
- In addition to using similar keywords, be sure you represent the tone of the company you’re applying for. If you’re interested in working for a formal organization such as a defense system company, then your resume should come across in a traditional and formal manner. If you’re applying to an early-stage tech start-up, your resume can be a bit more unconventional.
- Get creative to get noticed. Recruiters read resumes all day long with typical words like “managed” or “led” that are wayyyyy overused. Get creative with words such as “amplified,” “boosted,” “pioneered.” To make your resume more creative, I love this list of 185 Powerful Verbs to Make Your Resume Awesome.
- The general rule of thumb for your resume’s length is 0 to 10 years of experience is one page; 10+ years experience is two pages. The only exception for going over two pages is if you’re applying to a role that requires you to include publications, patents, etc.
- Be smart about the use of color. True story! I recently opened a resume, and it caused me to jump at first sight, literally. There was so much bright green infused across the page; it scared me! And not to mention, I couldn’t even read the type. Color can sway thinking, change actions, and cause reactions. It can irritate or soothe your eyes or even raise your blood pressure. If you’re going to use color when designing your resume, please be smart about it.
- Select a modern, easy-to-read font that will translate across platforms — my favorite is Calibri.
- If you’re looking for a professional resume template to help you stand out, check out these fabulous designs at my affiliate partner, Get Landed.
Showcase key accomplishments versus outlining responsibilities.
Listing responsibility after responsibility is the number one mistake I see on resumes. Accomplishments, on the other hand, showcase results and describe how well you did a responsibility. For example, a responsibility is “event planning,” an accomplishment is “amplified revenue by $150K by executing a detailed marketing strategy for a 350-person conference.” Highlighting your accomplishments versus listing responsibilities will differentiate you from other candidates. I know thinking through your accomplishments is tough. To get started, try answering these five questions:
- What did you do that was above and beyond your regular job duties?
- What were you recognized by a manager for doing? And why?
- What new processes did you implement to improve things?
- What problems did you solve?
- Did you save the company money?
Managers want to hire people with proven results. Therefore, including specific results will grab the reader’s attention. Take your answers to the questions above and add numbers:
- How many people were impacted?
- By what percentage did you exceed your goals?
- How much money did you manage?
- How much money did you save the company?
I get it. Talking about yourself is HARD! Articulating yourself on one piece of paper is an art and yet so important in today’s saturated job market. A well-designed resume packed with accomplishments tied into transferrable skills is the best tool to show off your value!
For more insider stories, quick tips, and #careertalk, I invite you to connect with me on Instagram @flourish.careers.