Your resume is your first impression, so here’s how to make a good one that’s likely to land you the job.
In today’s digital age, who doesn’t have a short attention span? There’s so much information available that if certain content doesn’t capture us, we’ll drop it and find something that does.
Keep this front of mind when writing your resume. Essentially, to write an enticing resume, you have to switch from being an engineer or finance executive to a marketer so that you can capture the attention of anyone who glimpses at your application. Recruiters and hiring managers might spend only a few seconds looking at your resume, and you need to communicate a lot in those few seconds.
If your written communication is enticing from the get-go, the reader will be impressed. That person will read a little further, confirming their belief about the quality of the document—which means you, the candidate, are likely to get a call. If your written communication doesn’t grab their attention, your opportunity is gone for good. Even if that person does continue to read on, he’ll be looking for evidence to confirm his first conclusion: that the resume isn’t good enough to make the cut.
Your resume is the first impression you make in the hiring process. With that in mind, here are five tips that will help you write a resume that’s enticing, one that won’t get culled unnecessarily. Some of these might seem obvious, but the mistakes are quite common, so it’s worth a reminder.
1. Customize your resume for the role you want
We humans are very clever, but we’re not mind-readers, even with our evolved mental processes. So when a recruiter sees things on a resume that don’t align with that particular job they’re recruiting for, it’s onto the next resume—anything to speed up the shortlisting process. Because if you don’t seem like the right fit, the pile of resumes promises someone better.
Stock standard resumes simply don’t work. Different roles require different standout skills. Nobody wants to receive a cover letter saying “Dear Sir…” Make sure you customize not only for the role, but for the reader, too.
2. Recruiters make mistakes, so don’t leave anything to guesswork
A recruiter once told me I wouldn’t be able to get a job as an HR project manager in a bank because I had no banking experience. Another, less-experienced recruiter, recruiting for the same role had a different opinion, sent me for an interview—and I got the job!
We’ve all been in the position where we made a decision we were certain about, only to later realize we were wrong. Even though we believed wholeheartedly we were right, new information emerges and, well, we realize we didn’t know enough at the time to make an informed decision.
Nobody is immune to making those judgment errors. That’s why it’s vitally important that you don’t give recruiters any further reason to be careless with your resume. A careless mistake on your part where relevant, important information has been left out could cost you that job.
And don’t be afraid to boast. Better to oversell yourself than undersell, right?
3. Display your most important information “above the fold”
Since the reader will likely only spend a few seconds skimming your resume, your task is to make sure the most important information (a.k.a. the details that will get you the job) are at the top. This will help the recruiter focus on what makes you different and why you should get the job.
Displaying your most important information near the top of your resume will heighten your chances of getting noticed. Don’t hide details that could make you the best choice.
4. Avoid silly mistakes at all cost
How do you ensure that your resume doesn’t get culled unnecessarily and much too soon? Don’t give recruiters reason to discard you.
Your resume must not only look and feel good, but must also be filled with GREAT content. It is essentially proving that you’re the right fit for the role you’ve applied for. Spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, missing information, too much information and words that are out of place all contribute to increasing the chances of your resume being dumped into the “thanks, but no thanks” basket. Making your resume flawless increases the chances of getting that job you’re so excited about.
5. Each word is sacred, so choose wisely
Each word on your resume must serve a purpose. And that purpose is simple: to get the reader to read the next word.
Look at it as a competition. For a word to be on the page, it needs to be one hell of a mighty word. The better you choose your words, the more likely whoever reads them will invite you for an interview.
So take a look at your resume and ask yourself: What does my resume communicate? If I were a complete stranger, would I be interested in reading my resume?
Irene Kotov is the founder of Arielle Consulting and is passionate about people, careers and management. Through resume writing services and interview coaching, Irene works with job seekers to help them create a powerful impression throughout the job search and beyond, focusing on written, verbal and non-verbal communication skills.