Sometimes the manager reviewing your resume will be operating a one-person show. She may run her own company, or she may be solely responsible for this hiring decision for a variety of reasons. Managers often act with little or no outside input when they hire a personal assistant or a shift worker for a very small organization, for example. But most of the time, when an employer makes a staffing decision, she doesn’t do so in a vacuum. She consults with at least one, or two, or sometimes dozens of other people in a highly structured environment.
When this happens, the conversation surrounding the resume-- not the resume itself-- will play the determining role in the final decision. And as groups of reviewers gather to determine the fate of a given candidacy, these phrases often enter the discussion:
“She seems very competent. I mean, she’s obviously smart. Look at these grades and this fancy degree. But I’m not sure she’s ever done this kind of work before.”
Head off this complaint by using keywords that reflect the exact text of the job post. And make it very clear that your stated experience is relevant to the job at hand. If you’re in the midst of a career transition and you have to explain how your background as a chef (for example) will make you a better accountant, take care of this in your resume and cover letter. Don’t wait to explain it during your interview, because you may not be invited in for one.
“This guy seems experienced enough. But I just don’t like his writing style. He writes like a third grader.”
Your writing style matters. Those who can communicate effectively are generally considered more intelligent and reliable those who can’t. Don’t let poor grammar or wooden, confusing phrases stand between you and the job of your dreams. Get editing and writing help if you need it.
“I’m not sure about this guy. He called us a week after the resume closing date to beg for an extension so he could get his application in. Then he didn’t call to make sure we received it. The resume looks fine, but the guy seems like a mess.”
Your actual resume document will only be one small part of your overall presentation. Keep all of your interactions with the company polite, competent, respectful, and direct. After you submit your resume, follow up with a call or email to make sure the company received it.
“This one is perfect! I mean, she’s got relevant experience, the right credentials, and she seems ideal. But she lives in Iowa. And I don’t think she has the means to move out here on her own.”
Check your address against the location of the job, and if you live far away, address this issue directly in your cover letter. If you’ll need to relocate, state clearly that you’re willing to do this. If you’ll need relocation help or assistance, state this as well. Clear up these issues without waiting to be asked (because you may not be asked).
Use the resume building tools and tips on LiveCareer to head off manager concerns before they become an issue.