While you struggle forward with your job search, dropping resumes into black holes and receiving only one interview invitation for every 20 applications you submit (or more), your friend is experiencing very different results. Her job search is moving forward steadily, and she seems to be hearing back from every single employer she calls or contacts. She may not nail every interview, but she seems to schedule several sessions per week, and any day now she’ll receive an offer and step off the market.
You, on the other hand, have no idea when your job search will end. But you’re pretty sure it won’t happen by tomorrow. What’s going on?
There are several key secrets and subtle moves that separate an interview-scoring resume from one that’s just okay. Here are some of the tips your friend probably already knows:
Effective resumes establish a personal connection with the reader. Your words and phrases will have more impact if they sound smooth, conversational, and professional. Reading your words aloud can help you identify sections that sound rough or unclear. Circle any awkward phases that could be interpreted in more than one way, and clarify your intentions before you submit.
An effective resume also has what it takes to make it past keyword scanners and application tracking systems before it lands a coveted spot in front of a pair of human eyes. Make sure you use some of the exact words and phrases that appear in the job post, and include any and all technology programs, software applications, and certifications that may be included in a set of search terms.
Include every accomplishment, award, public speaking moment, leadership moment, successful project, or proud achievement that holds even slight relevance to your potential employer. Keep in mind that you may be competing with a large pool of applicants who are all more or less equally qualified. The smallest detail may be just enough to give you the edge you need.
While you show off every accomplishment, keep in mind that your readers can usually spot exaggerations a mile away. You may think a certain small fib is minor and unverifiable, but don’t include any claim that might call all of your other claims into question.
Interview scoring resumes are usually less than two pages long, and effective cover letters can describe an entire career history in one page of text. If you absolutely need to say more, refer your readers to an online link that provides additional layers of detail. But ideally, you should have the communication skills you need to summarize, condense, and convince.
At all times, effective applications keep the needs of the reader—not the writer—at the center of the story. This may mean researching the company and its needs before you begin to draft your message. If you understand exactly how your skills and background form a perfect match for this company and its mission, your application will stay on stronger footing.
Great resumes aren’t created in a vacuum, and we rarely complete our best work when we’re flying solo. Your friend is probably getting plenty of help and support, and you should be taking advantage of similar resources. Start by exploring the resume creation and editing tools on LiveCareer.