How to Improve Your Resume

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In this time when jobs are especially hard to come by, job seekers need to be very aware of what makes a great resume. Research shows that for each job listing, the hiring manager could receive hundreds of resumes. With numbers that overwhelming, it is critically important that your resume is able to catch the manager's eye. So what makes the difference between an average resume that will be rejected without a second look and one that will get the author an interview? The answers may be surprising.

Why Your Resume May Be Overlooked

Traditionally, a resume is considered to be a document that lists the applicant’s work history, and often treats the person’s accomplishments almost as an afterthought when compared to time served in any particular position. A great resume highlights an applicant’s successes and emphasizes what the prospective new employee can bring to the job. If your resume just documents your past work history, it will likely be overlooked and placed in the “no” pile.

Another thing likely to get your resume dismissed is a long cover letter that does not highlight your accomplishments in an exciting way. Most hiring managers spend mere seconds deciding whether or not they will call an applicant in for an interview, so a boring cover letter is as bad as a boring resume.

Think of Your Resume as a Marketing Tool

When you send your resume to a prospective employer, you should think of the document as an advertisement meant to make the hiring manager eager to meet you. Highlight your strong points right off the bat, and be specific. This is your opportunity to brag, so do not be humble. If you increased productivity on your team, tell how much you increased productivity and give highlights about how you did it. If you grew sales, brag about it. If your team won any awards, list them. Any achievement that you have accomplished that will translate into similar success in your new job should be at the top of your resume. You can list your actual employment locations and dates later.

Keep Your Resume Specific to the Job

People who have been in the workforce for any period of time will typically have a diverse set of skills that can be applied to various jobs. However, not all skills translate to the work that a hiring manager needs to have done. Highlight those abilities that target the specific job you are applying for and don’t spend too much time writing about things that simply do not add value. If you believe that you have job experience that would be beneficial in the position you are applying for even though it might not be immediately obvious to the hiring manager, do list that experience and explain how it applies, but don’t list it at the top of your resume. Stay on topic at the beginning, and if your story is compelling, the hiring manager will keep reading and see what else you have to offer.

Understand What You are Applying For

Before you send in a resume, thoroughly read the job description for the position, and also do as much research as you can on the company. Become familiar with the language that they use, and mirror that in subtle ways in your resume. Parroting their unique company jargon will seem phony, but latching on to commonly used keywords and sprinkling them throughout the text of your resume will make it seem as though you are on the same page as the hiring manager, increasing the likelihood that you will score an interview.

Keep Your Resume Professional and Formal

Even though it might seem as though you could catch a reader’s eye by using a cute or unusual font, avoid the temptation to do so. Hiring managers are typically just scanning the first paragraph or two of each resume as they decide if they want to read more or put it in the reject file. In most business situations, an unusual or hard to read font will not land you a call back.

Have More Than One Resume

Finally, if you are applying for more than one type of job, then you should have more than one resume. Not all skills translate to every position you might seek, so make sure you are targeting the skills that the company needs when you send them your information.

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