As a job seeker, your first objective is to standout. And most importantly, to make recruiters and potential employers fall in love with you.
This is only possible if you have an attractive resume. Without a great resume, you’re less likely to make the cut for an interview, so it’s really important to get it right.
Let’s have a look at a step-by-step process on how to attract employers with your resume. (Download the pdf version here.)
Make sure you're a fit for the job
First off, you need to make sure you’re qualified for the job; otherwise you’ll be wasting everyone’s time, especially yours.
Don’t just read the job title and assume you’re a good fit. Instead, read the job posting with a keen eye to detail, making sure you’ve not missed anything. Most employers will often indicate their minimum required qualifications at the bottom of the job ad. Some employers like to add additional notes in the footer to sieve out candidates who didn’t read to the very end.
If you’re a recent graduate and don’t have much experience, apply for the jobs looking for entry-level candidates. They're out there! Some job postings will even be specific to interns.
So how do you make sure you're a fit for the job and that recruiters will give your resume a second look? Analyze the job posting, pull out keywords and make a list of your qualifications that match. Another way is to take a data-driven approach. Career exploration tools, like the digital career counselor, allow you to search by job title for the most common and relevant skills people get hired for. Create a free student account and try it now.
Use keywords to get past the ATS
This is the Applicant Tracking System, a software headhunters use to find relevant resumes much faster.
It uses keywords robots can understand. For that, you need to use words the ATS deems relevant to the job posting.
You can check out other applicants on authoritative sites like LinkedIn and compare the lingo used in your field. Of course, don’t copy someone’s profile word for word. But by viewing other profiles (as well as checking job ads), you may find relevant keywords to add to your resume — just don’t overdo it!
When you use the right keywords, you’re not only making yourself attractive to the recruiters, but also putting your resume at the top of the ATS.
Don’t worry if the keywords feel too cliché or buzzy. They work. If it feels overdone, retain at least a few.
Tailor your resume to the job title
Most job seekers tend to build a resume once and use it with every job application. That’s a mistake you don’t want to make. You must update your resume to match the job title. Furthermore, some resume formats are not optimal for certain applications. While a resume may be acceptable, it may not be attractive enough for those doing the hiring.
You need to be flexible and customize your resume based on the job you’re applying for. For further elaboration, let’s take an example of a Data Analyst.
While a Data Analyst may be skilled in both data analysis and statistical skills, the job posting may have requested “someone with skills in Python” or “background as a statistician.” A data analyst is qualified in both skills. However, some analysts are more statisticians than programmers.
Therefore, look at the job ad again, and if the listed qualifications seem to focus on a specific skill, it’s best to customize your resume for the job skills they’re looking to hire. Here's how to find the most in-demand skills by job title or major:
Use a resume builder
It’s common for job seekers to create a resume from scratch using basic apps like Word or PowerPoint, but nothing beats online resume builders.
Most professional resume builders come with a slew of free templates to use, most of which are designed to fit specific industries or job titles.
One of the most effective, smart and professional resume builders is Resumist.com. This online resume builder makes things easier for you when putting together a resume. In addition to the free templates, this resume builder also features pre-written sections created by professional recruiters. Simply answer a few questions and the resume builder takes over by providing relevant suggestions.
Resumist also helps format your resume using best practices and follows the rules of spelling to guarantee there are no grammatical errors. Also, you don’t have to worry about inconsistency with fonts that can happen when copying and pasting into other applications.
The builder takes note of this and makes the changes to fit what’s best for your resume. It also helps you avoid keyword stuffing, which is helpful when doing a resume for the first time.
Use numbers in your achievements
You need to celebrate your wins. Besides enumerating your skills and dexterities, it’s important to include your achievements.
Use numbers whenever possible, and use action words to show how you achieved a certain goal or objective in your previous job(s).
For instance, when listing your achievements, instead of saying, “Increased billable hours on the third quarter,” you can instead say, “Increased billable hours by 12% on the 3rd quarter of 2020.”
Note the second statement is not only quantifiable, but also specific. It mentions the exact quarter and year you increased billable hours, and at what percentage.
Apart from numbers and action words, you need to show how you got the results. For instance, an alternate to the above statement can go like this: “By implementing strategic delegation, I increased billable hours by 12%.”
It’s okay to play around with the words and numbers until you find the right statement. Your objective is to be as precise as possible, without missing anything relevant and significant to the recruiters.
Be concise with your headlines, summaries and experience
A headline is the shortest version where you sum up your achievements in one line.
In a summary or objective statement, you can get a little longer. One or two sentences is typically a good length.
Example headline: Certified dental assistant with 12+ years in direct patient care.
Example summary: Extensive experience in charting, scheduling and delivering best in class customer service. Vast knowledge of clinical procedure and dental terminology. Looking for new opportunities in private dental practice.
Here are some tips for writing about experience:
- Use bullet points, not paragraphs.
- Lead with strong action verbs, follow with an accomplishment rather than task.
- Include more details about your most recent experience and fewer details from earlier roles.
- Find common job titles that connect to the career path you're applying for and relate to your own experience. The example below uses the data-driven approach to find common jobs for digital marketing managers out of a pool of 65,064.
You need to trim your resume to be short, direct and to the point. The best way to get rid of clutter is to revisit your resume and cut out any information (or words) that seem unnecessary. Or simply rephrase the statements to be shorter while retaining the message you intended to put across.
For example, instead of elaborating on all your previous work experiences, why don’t you focus on the recent ones , the last two jobs for instance. You can then list older experiences with more brevity.
Note that recruiters will look for a connected story in your resume. Gaps, disjointed skill sets and inconsistencies will be red flags. If these can’t be avoided, identify the holes and provide an explanation.
For graduates and those applying for an entry-level job, it’s okay to have a short resume. If you're currently in a program of study, you can list the degree you’re pursuing and your expected graduation date. If you’re still in school and applying for internships, potential employers may want to know your GPA.
B.A. in Education, degree anticipated May 2021, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, GPA: 3.8
Include links for networking
If you have an online resume or you're on a business social platform or industry association networking site, include those links in your resume to show your level of engagement with others in the industry. There’s nothing more attractive than two or three links to your social media profiles.
Add links to reputable platforms like LinkedIn, Quora, Twitter, etc. Steer clear of Instagram or TikTok, unless you’ve published content relevant to the job you’re applying for.
Adding networking links shows how confident you are, and that you aren’t afraid of the content you put out there. It also shows you're active and engaged in your own career development journey.
Revise and edit your work
Before sending the resume, make sure you’ve revisited it to check for grammatical errors. Without a doubt, a tool like Grammarly helps proofread your resume. Still, it’s advisable to have someone else read it. You may have missed an error that someone else might notice in a second.
Alternatively, you can hire a resume editor to help you out. Nonetheless, you need to go through the entire resume twice or thrice before clicking send.
With the aforementioned tips on how to attract employers with your resume, you should be well-equipped to customize it. Above all, be sure you’re a good fit for the job you’re applying for!