Did you know that most recruiters and hiring managers spend 7 seconds or less looking at a resume before deciding whether to put it in the “yes” or “no” pile? So it’s imperative that you make those few seconds count, and craft a resume that stands out from the crowd of dozens, or even hundreds, it’s competing with for the recruiter’s attention.
Assuming you’ve already taken care of the basics, such as triple-checking it for neatness and errors in spelling, grammar, dates, etc., here are 5 great tricks for cutting through the clutter.
Add a marketing headline.
There’s a reason why ads and billboards usually feature a large banner headline: it grabs attention like nothing else. At the top of your resume, under your name and contact info, place a headline that instantly tells the reader what you have to offer. For example, someone hunting for a job in sales might write:
John Applicant 555.555.5555 firstname.lastname@example.org
Large Account Sales Professional
To further differentiate yourself from the competition, you could tailor this headline for each position you apply for. In the above example, John might add a job-specific phrase such as “Large Account Sales Professional Specializing in Technology” or “Large Account Sales Professional with Online Marketing Skills.”
These days, many companies use a computer filter that your resume must get through before it even reaches a human being. The program will look for keywords relevant to the industry, the company and the position to be filled.
Which keywords should you use? Start with the job description and the company’s website, and mirror their language wherever possible. Other good words are “developed,” “accomplished” and “team player.” But don’t go overboard: you don’t want your resume to be rejected because of keyword stuffing.
Wherever possible, quantify your past career successes and accomplishments in numerical terms. How did you help your previous employer increase profits, cut costs or improve customer relations, and by how much? The more $ and % signs you can use, the better.
Because past performance is usually predictive of future success, these hard numbers give prospective employers a good, solid reason to put you on their short list.
Add your social media profiles.
If you have professional profiles on sites like LinkedIn, make it easy for HR decision makers to find you and get a fuller picture of your qualifications. (If you don’t have one, start it immediately.) They’ll be especially impressed if you have built a large network and have received lots of favorable recommendations.
However, don’t make these social media addresses into hyperlinks unless you’re emailing your resume to a specific person, not a database. Hyperlinks might cause the database to flag your resume as spam.
Get it in front of the right people.
Of course, you’ll send your resume to the e-mail address specified in the job posting. But you can increase your chances of landing an interview if you go the extra mile and send a copy to the hiring manager’s own e-mail address as well. Search out this information on Google, LinkedIn, or by calling the company.