We all know first impressions count and your resume will make or break your first impression. Of the thousands of resumes I’ve critiqued, 70% fail the scanning machinery. Even though they may be the perfect candidate, they’ve missed out on an opportunity. Don’t provide a decision maker with the opportunity to bypass you because your resume is incorrect formated, not scannable, or out of date. Here are my five tips on creating an impactful resume.
Tip number one, have a persuasive document. Your resume should clearly portray what a great person you are in the correct format to be read by humanized and the ATS scanning machinery that is so prevalent today.
Tip number two, ensure you have the right keywords. The basis of all ATS software centers around someone in the company programming into the software the buzzwords deemed necessary for a viable candidate to fulfill the job. If your resume doesn’t have the correct keywords, your resume ends up in the online recycle bin and will never be seen by a human decision maker
Tip number three, remember you are a star. Today, society has shifted away from reviewing responsibilities to scrutinizing you as a performer, a consistent deliverer of results. In my client engagements, I use the acronym STAR to extract and quantify career achievements. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. We are in a storytelling age. This acronym provides you with the opportunity to clearly define and portray your metrics, whether they be dollar value, percentiles, timeframe, or other form of quantifying your contributions to the business. Don’t hold back. Be bold, be brassy, and be brave. Share your value add in multiple STAR stories. Generally, you should have 1.5 STAR stories for every year of your career.
Tip number four, proofread, proofread, proofread. Make sure your resume is free of spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes. One error can decrease or even eliminate your chances of being called for an interview. There is no excuse with today’s word processing technology for being sloppy, but even with technology, don’t assume you are free of errors. For instance, their, versus they are, versus there, or too, two, and to. Also remember there are subtle differences between Canadian English, U.S. English, and U.K. English. Therefore, if you are targeting all three countries, have three resumes, one for each language.
My last tip is to avoid any career gaps on a resume as this can instantly count you out of any contention. There are many reasons why people have career gaps. It could be that you became a caregiver. Did you take a break and travel the world or advance your education? It’s best to explain it than overlook it and assume it won’t matter. It does and it will be a red flag or an alarm bell.
In wrapping up, be honest, be open, and be proud. Be ready to sharpen your competitive edge with a dynamic resume that tells a compelling career story. Happy job hunting.