Listen up. Work Reimagined’s career experts are weighing in with their best advice, from how to handle keywords, to how to describe your experience for best results.
7 phrases to ban from your resume right now.
- “Duties included.” That’s a job description. Translate what you did into specific accomplishments.
- The number of years you worked, or good attendance.
- Soft skills, such as “team player,” “good communicator,” and “detail-oriented.” Nice to have, but better when shown via your accomplishments.
- Fuzzy language such as, “Seeking to use my broad range of skills in a challenging position.” Instead, focus on specific skills and achievements.
Read more groundrules for writing resumes.
Quantify your accomplishments.
- Use numbers whenever you can—money saved, decreased costs, achieving more with less. The best numbers are in dollars.
- If it’s not possible to give a dollar amount, use other measures. Examples: number of people affected, amount of time saved, percent increase in sales, percent reduction in customer complaints, or similar measures.
- If you can’t quantify, use words like “significantly” or “substantially”—as long as this is true, of course.
Read more about how to describe and measure accomplishments on your resume.
Position your keywords strategically.
Add a keyword section at the very top of your résumé, advises Nick Parham, a San Francisco career and executive coach. “Keywords placed high up will help your résumé get to the top of the pile. And they serve as headlines to help the person reading your résumé,” he says. Make sure the keywords are relevant to the job description and reinforce the keywords throughout your résumé. “Repetition will establish your credibility in the résumé reader’s mind—but don’t overdo it,” he says.
Make sure your keywords are in your job titles, recommends TheLadders blogger Marc Cenedella, because software filtering tools put more weight on the words in titles than in descriptions. If keywords “are not in the title, they will not end up on top of the results pages,” according to Cenedella.
Read more about how to use keywords to their best advantage.
Get noticed on online job boards
“You can’t rely on online job ads. They are just one of the tools at your disposal,” said Daniel Schawbel, managing partner of Millennial Branding LLC. “Use them as part of an overall strategy. You can’t know what will work for you until you try.”
On Schwabel’s site, he lists three reasons not to bother submitting your resume to a job board: (1) many jobs have already been filled; (2) your resume goes into a large database and you don’t stand out; and (3) employers look at job boards as their last hope to fill a job.
But keeping all of that in mind, here’s a tip to make online job posting work for you.
Don’t ‘over-qualify’ yourself. It’s counterintuitive, of course, but as a highly qualified individual you run the risk of overlooking lower-level skills. Don’t make logical leaps in your application. For example, if you are a java scripter you can probably write HTML in your sleep. Make sure you have created your own “check box” for each qualification in the job spec no matter how basic. Sharepoint, check. Microsoft Word, check. Pay attention to each detail in a job listing so all of your experience counts.
Make your resume a marketing document.
Today’s young workers are amazing at marketing themselves. They’ve been doing it since they were kids, online, trying to deal with the social minefields of junior high school. You need to be as aggressive as everyone else at marketing yourself or you won’t be able to compete. This means that all the bullets on your resume should be achievements. Do not summarize what your responsibilities were. People don’t care. They want to know that you were an overachiever in all your jobs. So quantify your successes. And jobs that were terrible for you might be good to just leave off your resume. Remember, that’s not lying, that’s showing that you understand how to write a resume for today’s market.
Read more about how to write a great resume.
Know when to hide your experience.
People don’t want to hire someone who will be bored. So you need to hide some things, and emphasize things that you are not used to emphasizing. You might feel that leaving stuff off your resume is lying. It’s not. A resume is a marketing document, not your life story, and you can leave out anything you want in order to tell the story you want. One of the most important career skills you can have is understanding how far you can go on your resume without lying.
Read more on what to do if you’re overqualified.