Landing a role that aligns with your values, utilizes your skills and abilities, and pushes you to grow can be challenging. I’m sure you’ve heard this many, many times before, but the primary way to attract the right opportunities is to make sure your resume stands out.
But I have a different opinion on how to actually do this — make sure YOU show up on that paper.
I know you already play an active role in writing and promoting your resume but does your resume prompt a “Yes! This is the person we've been looking for!” reaction from hiring managers?
Below are five tips to help you revamp your resume into an attention-grabbing, dream job-landing asset.
1. Capture your essence
Don’t just review the job qualifications — make sure the companies you are interested in mesh well with your personality. The right role is, of course, instrumental in daily happiness, but culture plays an even greater role in on-the-job fulfillment. You’ll want to review corporate mission statements and Glassdoor company reviews, and even check out what key leadership is up to across social media to get an idea of what it would feel like to work there each day.
Here’s why this is important: if you are quietly introverted and prefer working independently, you may not want to end up at a hyper-social company. But, if you are more of an extrovert and thrive in social situations, you’d probably love a company with constant collaboration. You want to ensure the role speaks to your values, strengths, and personality.
Get clear by simply reflecting on the type of work environment that suits you best. What daily responsibilities, benefits, services, and company mission statements bring you the most happiness? If you are unsure, think about the past projects you’re most proud of or positive experiences you’ve had as a consumer with other companies.
Once you’ve invested some time introspectively, you’ll find that researching potential job opportunities and customizing your cover letter and resume to each becomes much more intuitive and effortless.
2. Focus on what you’re good at
As you start to refresh your resume, think about the talents or skills you might need to thrive in the specific role you’re applying for. Knowledge of client relations, administration tasks, technological pursuits, and project management will get you far in most fields…so push yourself to go further and ask “what else?” What is it that YOU bring to the role that illustrates your hard-earned expertise?
Are you innovative? Describe how you applied creative thinking or an agile approach to solve long-standing problems.
Are you tenacious? Showcase examples of how you overhauled processes and systems to work smarter, not harder. Or, how you inspired a team to stay motivated and productive and reduced turnover during a tough transition.
Are you an expert communicator? Cite the last time you successfully managed a crisis, produced a viral video, or increased revenue through emotionally engaging stories.
If you aren’t sure what sets you apart from the crowd, ask a close friend their thoughts on what makes you special. Or, get online and read bios by other people in your field. You might have an “a-ha” moment where you see how special those 21 years of ballet lessons were to the merchandise buyer position you’ve been coveting.
With just a little research and self-awareness, you can tighten up your resume and showcase the skills that give you a competitive edge.
3. Make data your BFF
I’m not going to lie—it’s competitive out there. Adjusting your resume to fully reflect your strengths and then tailoring your accomplishments to the specifications of the company you are applying for will allow you to come across as delightfully exceptional.
One of the best ways to highlight your uniqueness is to avoid a task-based resume. These tend to be more passive in style with little description of your experience and strengths. You want an employer to look at your resume and be immediately persuaded to call you for an interview.
Here’s what I mean: when you write that you “managed teams” or “developed three weekly blogs,” you will likely be glossed over for a candidate that actively states they, “implemented strategies that increased revenue by 15%” or “increased website traffic by 30%.”
I know it seems like you only have a small amount of wiggle room on your resume. That you’re eager to share as much of your experience as you can. But don’t just list your skills. Be assertive with your skill set and take some time to gather and figure out the data supporting your accomplishments.
4. Lead with the good stuff
Recruiters spend an average of six seconds before they decide if a resume is a fit or no-fit situation. It’s imperative you make sure you give your potential employer what they are looking quickly and clearly. Check out your prospective company’s website and look for repeated words and phrases, hints about their philosophy, and taglines. Then, in your resume, weave your qualifications, achievements, and data points into their core requirements to show that the actual value of your support is directly related to their needs.
5. Hit the right tone
One of the biggest opportunities for resume improvement is getting what I like to call the “tone” right when you’re trying to move upstream or undergoing a career transition and needing to move downstream.
For example, you can omit pieces of your work history if they aren’t relevant to the job you’re applying for AND they don’t leave a gaping hole in your work history. You don’t want to remove an irrelevant job if it’s going to make it look like you’ve been out of work the whole time. You want to balance a complete work history with impactful information.
Similarly, sometimes you may want to leave off jobs that make you look overqualified when you’re going through a career transition and trying to break into a new industry. BUT, before you do that, try scoping up or down for a role by removing bullets that scream “I had a big hairy job” or “I’m sick of what I’m doing and need to move on.” Be purposeful and frame your content based on what the job description and hiring manager seem to want in a candidate, even if you know you have way more to offer.
With these five tips in mind, you are that much closer to creating an attention-grabbing resume and landing a job that aligns with who you are and where you want to go. Your resume is the first version of “you” a hiring manager sees, so be exceptional and chase your goals.