by Deborah Walker
In the age of email and online job services, job hunting suddenly became much easier. Or did it? Sometimes it’s hard to know if your resume is actually reaching someone’s desk — or is lost somewhere in the great void of cyberspace.
If you want to be sure that your resume is being seen by a real person who can offer you a real job, here are three rules to get stronger response.
1. Use the Right Keywords
More than ever, resumes are stored in a database and queried for keywords to indicate candidate match. If you aren’t using the right words to describe your employment experiences, then your resume might be rejected before it’s ever seen. Review the keywords your resume uses to:
- Describe your dream job. Do your qualifications match the job description? Look closely at areas listing your technical skills, job responsibilities and core competencies.
- Attract your desired industry. Are you using industry buzzwords? In other words, does your resume talk the employer’s talk?
- Attract your occupational field. Do the phrases you use prove your level of experience in your field? [Editor’s note: See our article, Tapping the Power of Keywords to Enhance Your Resume and our Resume Keywords Worksheet.]
2. Use the Correct Electronic Version
If your resume can’t be opened as an attachment, then it can’t be seen. Because of the threat of computer viruses many companies only accept resumes through their own online forms which ask you to cut and paste (rather than attach) your resume. Make sure you are sending your resume in a format that will work for the employer.
- If a resume attachment is requested: Save your resume as a Word document (.doc or .rtf), which is the standard most companies use. It should retain the formatting that you used for your resume. For a smooth transition into employers’ Applicant Tracking Systems, avoid using too many fancy formatting options, such as columns, boxes, and tables.
- If an email or online form is used: Use ASCII, plain text, or text only to remove formatting while preserving the content. Be sure to review your resume before sending it so that it is still easy to read and user-friendly. [Editor’s note: See our article, Your E-resume’s File Format Aligns with its Delivery Method.]
3. Differentiate Your Resume from the Crowd
Dozens of fast-food restaurants sell hamburgers and fries. How do you choose which one you want? Chances are, one of those restaurants has a differentiating edge, something that you like better than all the others. The job market is the same way; it’s flooded with choices, so you have to make your resume stand out from all the competition. The best way to differentiate your resume from others is with accomplishments. And those accomplishments really stand out when:
- They are measurable. Can you define how much you accomplished in dollars saved, contracts won, or percent changed? [Editor’s note: See our article, For Job-Hunting Success: Track/Leverage Your Accomplishments and our Accomplishments Worksheet.]
- They support your transferable skills. Can your skills be used by this company, even if your job experience is in a different industry? What skills will transfer from one job to another? [Editor’s note: See our article, Transferable Job Skills — a Vital Job-Search Technique and our Transferable Skills Worksheet.]
- They connect to corporate bottom-line objectives. How can you help them save time, save money, increase their profit margin, improve sales, or increase revenue?
Final Thoughts on Resumes
While the Internet is still a great tool for job seekers to connect quickly with employers, take steps to insure your resume won’t get lost in the void. Before you send your resume off to the Great Cyber Beyond, use these three tips to make sure your resume gets the attention it deserves!
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Deborah Walker is a Certified Career Management Coach. Her expertise includes resume writing and career coaching. She holds membership in the National Resume Writer’s Association. As a former headhunter, her advice comes from an insider’s prospective based on years working with HR professionals and corporate hiring managers. Visit Deb on the Web. Or email her for a free resume critique/price quote at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you taken advantage of all the many free resume tools, articles, samples, and more that we have in the Resume Resources section of Quintessential Careers?
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