It's like Mission Impossible. You have 6 seconds to get in, disarm the bomb, and get out to accomplish your mission.
Recruiters spend just a few seconds skimming over your resume before either detonating it (boom!) or passing it through to the first round. And when you're going up against hundreds of other applicants it becomes incredibly important to execute your mission well.
Here are the 4 tricks we'll use in order to help you accomplish Mission Impossible: Resume.
- Add keywords that are tailored to the job description
- Articulate how you made an impact in your previous jobs
- Prioritize simplicity and please, No Skill Bubbles
- Optimize your resume with strong accomplishment statements
Add keywords that are tailored to the job description
It is easy for a hiring manager to tell if you've tailored your resume to the job description. And maybe more importantly, it's easy to tell when you haven't.
You are putting yourself at a disadvantage when you don't tailor your resume because there will always another candidate out there who takes the extra time to do it.
What are the benefits of tailoring your resume?
First, it helps you get past applicant tracking systems that may filter non-relevant resumes out. You can read more here.
Second, it shows the recruiter or hiring manager that you put in additional effort to land this job. You stand out against people who didn't put in the work.
Third, it helps a recruiter or hiring manager to see why you would be a good fit for the role they are hiring for. By making sure you add the soft and hard skills to your resume that are a match, it makes it that much easier to get you an interview.
What's the process to tailor your resume?
To begin with, read the job description and then read your resume thoroughly. How well do they match up?
Ask yourself, if a recruiter spends six seconds skimming this are they going to see you have the right skills and experience to be a fit for the job?
As you go through the job description I encourage you to add notations to mark where your notice relevant skills or gaps in your skillset.
- For every skill that you have on your resume add a check ✅
- For every skill you don't have on your resume but could add put a ⭐️
- For all skills that you don't have put an ❌
- For anything you are unsure about and want to come back to later add a ❓
Now, review your resume and see where you can add, eliminate, or update language to better fit the job description. It's a time consuming process, but it's worth it.
If you want an even easier process for building a new resume each time you apply for a job, I suggest you check out Savviest (my software platform).
This powerful tool allows you to aggregate all of your skills and experience in one place. Then, when you create a new resume for a job, we pull in the most relevant data based on the job you are applying for.
Highlight accomplishments, not responsibilities
One of the biggest mistakes people make is to emphasize their responsibilities and forego their accomplishments.
Listing your responsibilities is the equivalent to just repeating the job description from your last job. It's not that exciting and it doesn't make you stand out.
Accomplishments on the other hand help you showcase what you achieved. They show how you took the responsibilities and made them your own by excelling at them.
When I reviewed resumes during my previous job before founding Savviest, I would always choose to interview the person that clearly understood that we were hiring them to make an impact, not just to be there in their chair all day.
If you want to learn how to write better accomplishment statements, I suggest you check out another article I wrote called How to make your resume stand out with strong achievements.
Prioritize simplicity and please, No Skill Bubbles
So what should your resume look like?
My two cents. Simple is better.
It can be tempting to use a colorful resume template that you find online with your photo, cool graphics, and a scale to show how skilled you are with certain things.
Barring that you are an actor or work in a creative field as a designer, you don't need to go overboard on cool looking designs.
Headshots aren't used in US markets, cool graphics are fine but may have challenges getting read by applicant tracking systems, and bubble scales for your skills... Just don't get me started...
You might think this looks really cool and it helps employers understand what skills you have and how skilled you are in each category.
Unfortunately there is really no way to win with a graphic like this and here's why.
❌ They aren't easily read by ATS.
❌ People's eyes don't go to the high skills, they go to the low ones automatically. So the recruiter will think, "this candidate is really bad with marketing tools".
❌ Conversely, if you rank a skill as perfect, then you are basically saying you are an expert with nothing else to learn. Also not a great look
So you really can't win skills bubbles or any of these other fancy formatting options.
Replace weak verbs with powerful action verbs
Replace weak words that don't work for you.
Too often we settle for the first word that comes to mind when describing what you did for a previous project or position.
Do the following words look familiar?
- Responsible for
They are all similar because they don't add anything to your resume. They are filler words and they aren't specific enough to describe a given action. They are a sure sign you are talking about responsibilities and not achievements.
Instead, try some of these powerful action verbs.
If you need more inspiration, larger list of resume action verbs be found here.
We've covered four powerful ways to stand out with your resume during the application process.
Let your resume tell your unique story and impress the recruiter. Remember, always tailor your resume and use powerful action verbs. Avoid common pitfalls like listing your responsibilities or using skills bubbles on your resume. They don't work how you want them to!
If the process of updating your resume still feels daunting to you, get help from a Savviest coach.