The resume won’t crumple up and roll away anytime soon. If you want to get past the scrutiny of the company’s Applicant Tracking System (ATS), the best thing to do is to find someone in the company to refer you. Studies show referrals increase your chances to win an interview.
However, professionals don’t always have the option to network their way to a new job. If you’re applying online through a job board or a corporate site, it’s important to revise your resume to match the keywords in a job description for maximum impact and results.
I recently spoke with Jessica Hernandez, the founder of Great Resumes Fast, to discuss the best strategies and latest trends in resume writing.
1. Think of Your Resume As a Personal Branding Document
Rejected resumes lack focus and depth, failing to show employers the candidate’s value. Hernandez says people need to view “…resumes and personal branding as one in the same. Your resume shows your experience, how you add value, what you’re known for and it’s very intertwined with your brand.”
Not only will this strategy will add breadth to your resume, it will also add power in demonstrating your worth. After all, as Hernandez says, “Your resume reflects your personal brand.”
2. Frame Your Value
Professionals miss opportunities to shine and stand out to employers. Hernandez says people miss chances to”…frame their value.” When quantitative results and impact are missing from your resume, employers ignore you. For example, many professionals boast that they have “a proven track record” instead of saying that they “grew sales by 10% in 2018” or “cut payroll processing by 20% the first three months of 2019.”
3. Don’t Be So Quick to Choose a Resume Template
A resume is a marketing document, and few templates show your worth. A pre-written resume template with general and blanket statements can misrepresent you.
Hernandez says that templates “water down your brand.” Most online submitted resumes are filtered by the ATS, and depending on what you’re doing, templates can be problematic. Hernandez points out, “Some applicant tracking systems are more finicky than others.”
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4. Gather a Team to Help Perfect Your Resume
Out of all resume errors, grammar faux pas are the most common. For many years, employers have used the one-grammar-error-disqualification rule for those documents received online. With few exceptions, one error keeps a good candidate from getting an interview.
Professional resume-writing companies like Hernandez’s have full-time writers and copy editors on staff to ensure that all documents are flawless. If you’re working alone, it’s a good idea to assemble your own team of trusted friends to help you proofread and fact-check. (You’d be surprised how often people make mistakes about dates of employment at a previous job, for example.)
5. Customize for Each Employer
Each company’s job description has a vision of the successful candidate’s job. Hernandez says, “…even if you get it professionally written and you’re applying to different positions with different companies, it’s really important you make those small customizations. And it doesn’t mean that you rewrite entire resume every time you apply to a different company.”
Think about it — no one ever tells a story or a joke the same way twice. Your resume must tell a relevant story. Each company has different problems than its competitors, so you must address specific problems of that company.
Want more resume tips? Read, “4 Smart Strategies to Refresh Your Resume.”
6. Make Sure You’re Speaking to Your Audience(s)
Target your resume to specific employers, showing that you can solve their problems and achieve their goals. But even when you’re focusing on a single employer, Hernandez says that your resume will have several audiences.
“Most people wouldn’t consider the ATS as an audience, [as well as] the hiring manager, the entry-level hiring manager who scans the resumes, recruiters, and the actual report-to manager who interviews you,” she says. But each of those readers are important and candidates should consider them when writing their CV.
Research companies and talk to current employees of each company, using LinkedIn to connect with them. You’ll get intel that your competition didn’t consider. Then you’ll have a laser-focused resume offering solutions to the employer.
Your new mindset leverages every connection you build with a company before the interview even takes place. That creates opportunities for dialogue and increases your chances of getting hired. Employers will remember you because your resume powerfully introduces you as a dynamic problem-solver.
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