How many articles come across your news feed every day? How many of those do you actually read?
Most people decide whether or not they will read something just from the title, or maybe the first paragraph. Amid a barrage of information, we have mastered the skill of quickly scanning text to determine whether it’s relevant or interesting.
It’s the same with hiring managers, who must dig through an avalanche of resumes on a routine basis. They have quickly learned to decide whether or not a professional resume is worthy of their time just from a quick glance.
This means that you have about 10 seconds to get the attention of a hiring manager in your resume. If you succeed, this can open the door to getting an interview and maybe getting hired.
Here are 15 tips for crafting a resume that grabs a hiring manager’s attention.
Brainstorm before you start.
Before you begin the task of actually creating your resume, take a few minutes to brainstorm as many professional skills and achievements as you can think of.
You might even set a timer and spend five minutes just jotting down anything that comes into your mind related to your job skills. When you’re finished, identify those that really stand out to you and number them in order of importance. Generate a long list so that you can choose the best among them to highlight in your resume.
If it’s not working, don’t keep sending it out.
Have you sent your professional resume out to five different companies and not heard back from any of them? It’s time to reevaluate. If it hasn’t been getting results, go back to the drawing board. You know the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” Well, the reverse holds true as well.
Use the “above the fold.” wisely.
If you know anything about newspaper reporting or website design, then you are already familiar with the term “above the fold.” It refers to the top half of a newspaper page or the part of a website that you can see without scrolling. It’s important to make the most of this space, because it will determine whether or not an audience will look at the rest of it.
It’s the same with your professional resume. The top half of your resume needs to be the strongest. Make your name stand out in large font and follow it with contact information, job titles, and a strong profile statement. List any noteworthy certifications or awards. And then phrase that first job title and do your best to make it appear impressive. You really have to make a good impression in this part of the resume. It may even be the only part that anyone looks at.
Stick with standard structure.
Keep your resume straightforward and traditional. Avoid colored paper and special fonts as these can be distracting and make it hard to read. The resume is not the place to showcase your creativity so honor accepted guidelines and make sure it follows the correct format. A standard professional resume includes the following components:
- Header (name, contact information, branding statement)
- Work Experience
- Key skills and achievements
Make your resume reader-friendly.
Please avoid using very small fonts and small margins in order to cram in lots of information. Include white space, bullet points, and short paragraphs. Few things are as daunting to readers as large blocks of dense text. The two fonts that are easiest to read are Arial and Times New Roman, so stick with one of those. Minimize any fluff so that your key points really stand out.
Avoid vague objective statements.
Many experts feel that the career objective statements are obsolete so feel free to skip it unless you know for a fact that this particular company prefers having these on resumes. If you do write an objective, fill it with strong action verbs and specifically target it to that job and that position. Do not write a generic, one-size-fits all resume objective, like, “I’m seeking a job where I can use my skills to help expand the company.”
Create a strong branding statement.
The branding statement should be placed near the top, directly below your name. Because it’s one of the first things that a reviewer will see, you must make sure it’s very strong.
It should be a snapshot of your experience, career goals, and what you bring to the company. In order to formulate a meaningful branding statement, think about what you’re passionate about, your top 3-4 strongest skills, and how you’re different from others applying for the same job.
Show, don’t tell.
Think of some of your favorite stories. A good story reveals a person’s character by showing them in action. It’s ineffective to simply state: “Lucy was kind.” It works better if you portray her giving food to a homeless person or picking up the mail for her elderly neighbor. Do the same thing with your skills and accomplishments on your professional resume. Instead of saying that you are skilled at analyzing business performance, give details that show that.
Target it to the job you’re applying for.
Years ago, job seekers used a generic, one-size-fits-all resume to save time. This practice was perfectly acceptable at the time, but it’s rapidly becoming outdated. As with anything you write, consider your target audience. Research the company and the job responsibilities and tailor your perfect professional resume to reflect these. If you are submitting a resume to an online database, then take some time to examine job postings in your field to find common themes and trends.
Make use of keywords.
Often, resumes are pre-screened by a person which picks up keywords related to the job description. If you want a hiring manager to even look at it, you will have to ensure that it contains lots of such keywords. Examine the job posting to try to pick up on industry-related buzz words, especially if they are repeated, and use these in your resume.
Keep it to one page.
If your resume goes on for multiple pages, the reviewer will quickly lose interest and may not even get to many of the items you’ve included. Force yourself to hone in on your most impressive skills and accomplishments and leave out some of the fluff. However, if you find that you do need to continue on to a second page, just be careful not to break up any of the job descriptions or bulleted lists. That can make your professional resume hard to follow.
Use active verbs.
Write an action-oriented resume that shows you get things done. Instead of saying that you were in charge of the marketing department, say that you “successfully marketed” software for the company.
Instead of saying you were on a committee that rewrote the staff dress code, say that you formulated company policies. Other examples of strong action verbs are “assigned,” “shaped,” “adapted,” and “transformed.”
Provide professional and correct info.
Double check your contact information carefully. You’d be amazed how often opportunities are missed because job seekers put a 3 instead of a 2 in their phone number or omitted a letter from their email address. Also make sure that your voicemail greeting is courteous and professional, and avoid immature email addresses. If necessary, create a new gmail account with something close to your real name.
Behave professionally on social media sites.
Hiring managers often look at the Facebook and LinkedIn pages of prospective hires, so make sure not to post anything that makes you appear unprofessional. It’s not that you have to hide everything non-work-related. Just make sure that none of your social media posts or comments hint at behaviors which may be detrimental to the company.
Don’t forget a cover letter.
It doesn’t have to be long, but do include a cover letter. Do some research to find the name of the person that you are writing to in order to avoid a generic and stuffy-sounding “Dear Sir or Madam.” Briefly state the highlights of your professional resume and why your skills and qualifications make you perfect for that particular position. End it with a “call to action” stating that you look forward to hearing from him or her and that you will be in touch within a week if you don’t hear back.
You know you’re perfect for that job! Don’t let an ineffective, poorly-written resume get in the way of your goals. Make sure your resume reveals your best self instead of hiding it.