3 Ways to Improve your Resume Right Now
Around this time 3 years ago, I was laid off from my first big-girl job. I was devastated, but I didn't spend much time wallowing in my emotions because I had a 4 month old son who was depending on his parents. Luckily, without much work, I was able to find a job quickly... thanks to a friend. Yes, personal and professional connections are still the best way to get hired. (After all, it's not what you know. It's who you know)
4 short months after that, I was back on the job market. This time, I had been fired. I proceeded to do what I was taught to do back in high school - update my resume and start applying for as many jobs as possible. When you don't have a job, applying for jobs is your job... right? So, that's what I did. I applied for 5-15 jobs per day in my field. Every weekday. 3 weeks & many rejection emails later, I was discouraged. Again - I couldn't wallow in my feelings for too long because there was a very real possibility that if I didn't get a job, my family would have to move in with my in-laws in North Carolina. I love my in-laws, but I love the life I envisioned for my family more. I couldn't allow that to happen to us.
So, I enrolled in a course which taught me the ins & outs of resume writing, job applications, and most importantly - resume optimization. They say you never know what you don't know... and sitting in that class, I was faced with so much new information, I'm surprised my brain didn't explode! There was so much more to writing resumes than I thought! The instructor also impressed upon us that unemployment is a good time to have fun because when else will you have so much free time!? I can imagine that this is controversial, but I agreed. And so, I left the class empowered to (1) enjoy my unemployment, and (2) write a polished, optimized resume.
2 weeks later, I started receiving the positive feedback I was looking for - and it felt amazing! Feeling seen and heard in a job search is important. If you apply for jobs unsuccessfully long enough, it can start to feel lonely. Receiving validation from potential employers is important for our mental state.
I learned many things in that course which helped me tremendously. Many of those things, I teach my coaching clients, but I want to share a few with all of you today so that you can make improvements to your resume right now:
3 Ways to Improve your Resume Right Now:
Brag! - Listen - if it's not on your resume, it didn't happen. That company-wide project you led where you saved the company $10k...? That time you were told that you're the best technical writer the company has ever seen!? Hiring managers don't know about it because you didn't bother to put it in your resume. Your resume needs to convince the employer that meeting you in person is worth their valuable time. If you're having trouble honing in on what to put it in your resume, create a master resume which is an exhaustive list of everything you did for each of your jobs. When you go to optimize resumes for individual jobs, take what you need from the master resume (depending on the specific requirements expressed in the "Job Description") and leave the rest.
Remove the "Objective". Add a "Professional Summary" - If your resume still has an objective, please open it up on your computer (or phone?) right now and delete it! Your resume does not need an objective because if you're applying for jobs, we know your objective. Your objective is to get a job. A professional summary is a great alternative to an objective statement. A professional summary is 3-4 sentences which tell potential employers: (1) Who you are professionally and how much professional experience you have, (2) The career-relevant hard and soft skills you possess, (3) Your job-specific skills and past experiences that align with the needs of the company.
The "Prime Real Estate" Rule - What I call "prime real estate", many other coaches refer to as the "top 1/3". View the first page of your resume in Microsoft Word at 100% magnification (this may vary slightly based on your screen resolution). The part of your resume that you can see on the screen, this is your "prime real estate". This part of your resume needs to be so captivating that it makes a hiring manager want to scroll to learn more about you. - Use bold text to highlight keywords, - Add a short two-column list of highlighted skills, relevant to the job - Don't be afraid to add a tasteful pop of color or attractive resume header On average, a hiring manager scans a resume for 6 seconds before deciding whether the candidate is a good fit. You have a very short amount of time to impress!
Starting with a well-designed resume as a baseline is definitely key. The quick tips shared above will allow you to make a few quick, meaningful adjustments to the quality of your resume. Need more help? Contact me! Thanks for reading!