Your resume might be so impressive, so precise, and so perfectly aligned with employer needs that your readers take one glance and hire you on the spot. This scenario is not at all impossible—in fact, stranger things have happened in the job-search. But it's rare nonetheless. And most successful resumes don't lead directly to job offers—they lead to phone calls and interview invitations.
So as you draft and edit your resume, you can consider this your primary goal. It's your resume's job to pique your reader's curiosity, get her attention, and convince her to meet with you in person. It takes only two minutes to pick up the phone and make an appointment, and once you convince her to make this easy move, you're halfway home. So how can your resume accomplish this mission? Start by keeping the following tips in mind.
1. Don't worry about one missing credential.
Or two, or even three. If the job post asks for a master's degree and you only have a bachelors, or if the post demands five years of experience and you only have three, don't let this stop you from applying. And don't draw attention to this minor detail in your resume or your cover letter. If this deficit truly is a problem or a serious deal-breaker, let the employers worry about it. And let them decide when and how to bring it up.
2. If you have what these employers are looking for, make this clear.
State, don't suggest. Leave no mistake in anyone's mind. Use the exact wording used in the post, if possible. For example, if these employers need someone who "can work nights and weekends as necessary" or who is "CPR-certified," use these exact words in your resume summary and cover letter. Not only will this help you get past keyword searches, it can also help reassure a reviewer (or recruiter, or HR pro) who didn't write the post but is acting on behalf of the person who did.
3. Offer something no other candidate can.
This can be a credential, a specific experience from your past, or a personality trait. But make sure it's something these managers will appreciate, and something that not everyone in the candidate pool will be able to claim.
4. Stand out.
Take a risk. If you have to choose, err on the side of standing out rather than fitting in. Strategically break a few resume "rules." Explain how your imperfections, your mistakes, and your quirks give you an edge over your competitors.
5. Identify a problem, and then explain how you intend to solve it.
This may require a little research. But if you can show that you understand a specific problem your employers face, and then explain how you—and only you—are uniquely poised to solve that problem and move the company forward, you'll inspire your readers to give you a chance.
One Chance Is All You Need
If you can just get one foot in the door—in this case, the door of your interviewer's office—then you can let your voice, your true skills, your presentation, and your charming personality take over. But in order to take that first step, you'll need a strong resume. And you'll need to introduce your resume with a memorable, beautifully formatted cover letter. Visit LiveCareer and use the resume and cover letter building tools on the site to help you get started.