So the job market has been apparently improving. At least, that's what we have been hearing lately. Even though the increase doesn't imply that people are resuming making their same salaries as before the Great Recession, it does imply the following:
More previously employed people now have jobs.
Employed people are showing more courage to find something more suitable.
The job market is becoming crowded and competitive.
The last point is the most important. You're in the market with a lot more people, most of whom are braver than ever, with full expectations that they deserve everything that's coming to them. Does your resume put you in the best position to compete? The many skills you have amassed over the years, are they being showcased in a way that whets the appetites of hiring professionals?
The fact of the matter is that a resume is de rigueur, but more than that, it needs to shine so you can shine--and get that job that you have always wanted. To shine, though, you need to be aware of some key aspects of your resume that will make it effective.
Although not the most important aspect, it ranks near the top. A keyword-rich resume is one in which the verbiage is targeted and matched against the job description. The job description will clearly show indicators of what is needed to be successful in the position. Your resume should correlate then, and that correlation can be made through keywords.
If the description says that you have to be proficient in Microsoft Excel, your resume should have a corresponding Microsoft Excel keyword. If it indicates that you need to have stellar data-analysis skills, you'll need corresponding language. Why? So when you submit your resume to the human-resources database that HR people will use to sift through the thousands of resumes that have dropped in, they'll easily pull yours up, because they'll be looking up qualified candidates by keywords. (Basically, it's a Google search in their database.) If they can find you among the many thousands there, you're likely to get a call back.
The way your resume is set up, meaning the format and placing of text, has to be logical and easy-to-follow. An HR professional should not have to search and sift through the mountain of information. If they want to know about your job history, they should be able to got a section that is clearly demarcated as such. Your contact information, including a LinkedIn profile, should be at the top of the resume.
It's important to know also that logic is relative when it comes to resumes, simply because different industries have different needs. This is where the three main resume types come in.
Chronological: Your job history is listed from latest to earliest or vice versa
Functional: Your focus is on your job duties and less on your history of work
Hybrid: Your skills are listed first, followed your job history.
Whichever format you elect, ensure that your resume stays easy to read.
You have done a lot for prior employers that you want to talk about, but to prove your contribution to those employers, you'll need specific figures. Recruiters like to see numbers more than they like to see paragraphs of texts. For example:
Standard: An effective supervisor who contributed to the development of her staff
Better: By overseeing the career development of 28 customer-service professionals through 20-percent growth in employee's individual SLAs, the call center was able to meet overall SLAs 11 out of 12 months.
Your efficacy is demonstrated in what you did. What you did is expressed quantitatively. The first example is a pie-in-the-sky statement, and it's harder to prove. What is "effective?" How many people were in your staff? What did you specifically develop with them?
There are many other aspects of resumes that are important to ensure that you get the results you want, but the above have been the most important in our experience. And this is what we focus on in all resumes we write for clients.
Feel free to chime in with your own thoughts, of course. We welcome them.
Photo courtesy of Orian PG.