Set Your Resume Apart: Five Tips to Snagging the Dream Job
While those of us at The Writique love crafting résumés for jobseekers, we know that many people don’t find résumé writing easy or enjoyable. Some feel uncomfortable bragging about their accomplishments, some aren’t quite sure how their past experiences match their career aspirations, and some simply don’t see the need for a résumé after completing an online job application with similar information. Whatever your situation, you’re more likely to land the job you want with a polished, individualized document that distinguishes you from the competition—and keeps you out of the estimated 75 percent of applicants whose résumés never make it beyond recruitment databases. Check out these five tips to go from hunting through job search engines to hearing “You’re hired!” at your next interview.
1. Tailor Your Résumé
You’re not applying for just any job, so don’t send a potential employer just any résumé. When you read an announcement for a position that interests you, highlight key words mentioned in the requirements and desired qualifications, then include those key words in your career summary and throughout your résumé. Recruiters and hiring managers don’t want to see that you’re a great candidate, but that you’re the candidate for the specific position they’re looking to fill. You may have to add, remove, revise, or reorder some of the points you normally list as your achievements, but getting the job is worth the effort.
2. Find the Template That Works for You
Whether you print your résumé to hand to an employer or upload it to an online job application platform, your document should be visually appealing. This does not mean adding flashy colors and graphics or splurging on linen paper. Instead, you want a document with a muted color palette, clear section headings, easy-to-read fonts, and concise, bulleted listings of your successes and not your tasks. Too often, candidates try to cram everything in their professional past onto their résumés, resulting in bulky blocks of texts that recruiters simply won’t read. Another common mistake among jobseekers is finding a template online and plugging their personal information into it without considering how the format works for them. The template that highlights the experience of the seasoned professional may magnify the employment gaps of the recent college graduate or the career-changer, just as the template detailing the academic background of an aspiring teacher will likely do little to showcase the work of a graphic designer. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to your résumé. You’re a unique candidate who deserves a unique document for the very job you desire.
This sample résumé from The Writique uses simple yet eye-catching graphics to draw attention to the candidate’s contact information, avoids loud colors, focuses on short but action-oriented summaries of experience, and sets the candidate’s skills and other attributes apart from her job history. It also clearly states her professional role and personal career goals while letting future employers know what she can bring to their organizations.
3. Showcase Your Skills
Over time, you’ve built a marketable skillset that will serve you and your employer well in your new position, so be sure your résumé includes a section that focuses on the specific talents you bring to the table. This does not include your typing speed, your proficiency with Microsoft Office Suite, or other common competencies that employers have come to expect in the digital age. Alternatively, your skills section should demonstrate the type of person you are as well as the type of work you can do. It should include both your inherent qualities—such as your adherence to deadlines and your ability to collaborate with team members—as well as tangible or technical skills—such as your fluency in Spanish or your coding and web design experience. As with the rest of your résumé, this section should be tailored to the job you’re seeking, so if you have proven experience as a social media influencer but aim to enter a training program for aspiring kindergarten teachers, consider listing another ability that better translates to your new profession.
4. Don’t Shy Away from Hobbies and Volunteer Work
How you spend your spare time not only further emphasizes your skills and experience but also piques the interest of your perspective employer. Some hiring managers have even requested interviews from candidates based off of shared interests like woodworking or a love of independent films. Your interests and activities outside of work paint a clearer picture of you as an individual, but they should also be relevant and demonstrative of your abilities. For instance, mentioning your interest and success in blogging looks great to the nonprofit organization seeking to expand their social media reach to untapped donors and volunteers. Do not, however, include interests that may seem polarizing or extreme, like sky diving or political rallying. Give prospective employers more reasons to hire you and nothing that makes you appear as a risk or liability.
5. Manage Your Online Presence
Even if you don’t have a LinkedIn account or a personal website (which you should certainly consider), always remain mindful of the person you portray on social media, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and text messages. Even images or messages you share privately with loved ones or consider tame have the potential to go viral and create a negative impression of you, especially if they allude to politics, race, or other controversial topics. You’ve no doubt seen countless news stories about people who have lost their jobs because of something they’ve posted online, but you may not know that your digital life can also become an interview question. Many employers research the online profiles of potential candidates before requesting interviews and are not afraid to ask how much time your Words with Friends play will take away from the work-from-home position for which you’ve applied. When in doubt about any post, omit it from your online life altogether—after all, the internet is forever. As this infographic from Domain.Me illustrates, a poorly managed digital profile can damage both your personal and professional reputation, thus undermining even the best of résumés.
At The Writique, we always keep these five things and your unique situation in mind, whether helping you build a résumé from scratch or reviewing a résumé you’ve already written. Let us help you get your dream job today!