While your resume can’t usually land you a job on the spot, a strong, concise presentation of your credentials can certainly win you a ticket to the next round of the selection process. Depending on the size and needs of the company, most managers take an initial applicant pool and narrow the names down to about five to ten finalists who are called in for first-round interviews.
Here are a few moves that can help you score one of those limited interview seats.
1. Keep your information crystal clear.
Every detail should be easy to understand. Get rid of every convoluted sentence, abstract statement, and possible double meaning. Sentences like “led proposal project of 50” can cause readers to scratch their heads—or worse, glaze over and lose interest. What exactly do you mean? Did you lead a team of 50 people? Or did you single handedly complete 50 successful proposals? Don’t derail your candidacy over simple mistakes or unclear presentation of numbers.
2. Organize your details in accordance with professional industry standards.
Use a professional, recognizable format to arrange your information. Create a clear summary at the top of the page, followed by subheadings for your education, work history, and special skills. Within these subheadings, your presentation can be more flexible, but make sure each of these sections are easy for managers to find and easy to compare with the resumes of other candidates.
3. Keep your structure parallel.
In your “work history” section, for example, keep all of your entries aligned in terms of structure. If you present the first entry as a job title, followed by a company name, followed by employment dates, maintain this pattern throughout the entire section.
4. Keep your information relevant to the job at hand.
Focus on details that are relevant, not just generically impressive. If you published a children’s book or ran a marathon, that’s great, but try to stay focused on the accomplishments that show your readiness for this specific job.
5. Use the exact wording that’s used in the post.
When listing and describing your skills and credentials, align your terms with the ones used in the post. This can improve your odds of appearing in the results of a keyword search through a vast resume database. If the post calls for a “CPR-certified Spanish speaker,” then use that exact wording (not “Bilingual speaker with Spanish skills and CPR certification”).
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