Job Search Tips | How To Get A Perfect Resume
Have you been applying for jobs but never hear anything back? Do you wonder if your resume is letting you down? Getting a job has never been harder, but if you think your resume is at fault, you might not be wrong. A perfect resume is every job seekers goal, but just how do you get the perfect resume, and what does the perfect resume look and read like? Read on for more.
The job hunting world has changed dramatically over the past few years (just as have opinions of what makes the perfect resume!). The type of jobs available, prevalence of high-tech positions that are geared towards a younger workforce, and an overall increase of interest in telecommuting over traditional 9-to-5 in-office work are just a few of the things workers are experiencing today.
In 2015, we saw a rise in the use of applicant tracking software that filters applicants based on keywords and the continued decline of traditional paper-based application and resume exchange.
As companies continue to evolve towards a more paperless business practice, their hiring process is changing as well. More and more companies are putting their job postings online, and taking applications electronically.
Indeed, the days of walking down the street and handing your resume to every business on the block are quickly coming to a close. Modern job seekers are finding their dream jobs from the comfort of home.
Hiring the wrong person is expensive. Hiring and training any employee takes a significant devotion of time, money, and effort. The U.S. Department of Labor pegged the monetary cost of a bad hiring decision at upwards of 30 percent of that person’s salary. On top of that, an employee who is incapable or a bad fit can lead to losses that are harder to measure, such as decreased productivity, lost sales, mistakes, and other missed business opportunities. And with technology blurring the lines between when an employee is on the clock vs. off the clock, finding the right fit for a team is more important than ever before.
For all these reasons, many employers have moved away from the quick hiring decisions of the past to a more involved hiring process, with the hope of finding the right fit–and avoiding the wrong one. It’s common now for candidates to be interviewed more than once, and by more than one person. This often includes people from different departments and at different levels within the organization.
Various tests are also becoming more commonplace. These can range from tests for concrete skills, such as writing or coding, to broader problem-solving tests, to role playing or personality tests. As you progress through a company’s hiring process, however, be wary of being asked to do things that cross the line from tasks that are a normal part of a hiring process into doing actual work for free.
In 2016, your job search could wind up taking you much longer than any of your prior searches–even though the job market is better now than it has been in years.
With hundreds of applicants per job, many qualified candidates don’t even get an interview. Most employers today use applicant tracking systems, which typically parse your resume and cover letter and store your relevant information in a database. Employers rely on this database to both weed out candidates who aren’t qualified–if they require someone with a master’s degree, the system will narrow the applicant list for them based on education credentials, for example–and to find candidates who have traits they do want. An applicant tracking system can tell an employer which candidates have experience with a particular programming language, for instance, or who have passed certain FINRA exams.
And your application materials can’t just show that you are qualified for the job–you have to make the case that you’d excel in the role. It’s important to be precise with the text of your resume to highlight your relevant skills. A targeted resume and effective cover letter will serve you better than firing off generic application materials to every job opening you can find. Two of the most important elements to targeted application materials are resume keywords and accomplishment statements.
Targeting your resume using relevant keywords doesn’t just show a potential employer that you’re qualified, but that you’re interested in the specific role they have open. This makes you a much more appealing candidate than someone who submits generic application materials, which are easy to spot–and which convey very clearly that they want a job, any job. Resume keywords also make it easier for an applicant tracking system to find you and rank you highly. To do this, echo the phrasing used in the job posting. If an employer wants someone who knows how to use certain social media platforms, for instance, your resume should include the platforms they specify, written in the same manner as the job posting. Don’t just list “social media” among your skills if the job search words it differently. Specifics are more important in today’s job search than ever before.
When it comes to accomplishments, merely listing your job duties doesn’t indicate anything about what you, personally, brought to a role. Any person with similar skills put in your position could complete the same laundry list of tasks. What employers want to see–and what will make you stand out as a candidate–is proof that you have succeeded in your roles. To do this, go over your experience and come up with statements that explain the challenges you faced, how you solved them, and what the outcome was.
(At CV Saviour, we know that employers recruit people who can get results. And the best indicator of what you can do for your next employer is to provide evidence in your résumé of what results you have given your previous employers. It’s this detail that really interests employers.
Evidence-based résumés get interviews. This means that if you state you have ‘great communication skills’, a recruiter expects to see evidence of this. Include an example – give the reader the evidence in your document, of where you proved your great communication skills, and what the result of this was. This doesn’t mean just writing the headline ‘achievements’ and listing what you did underneath it!
For example: if you merely list what your job description says what you’re expected to do, a hiring manager or recruiter is going to ask, ‘So what? That’s what you were paid to do!’ That approach tells the reader nothing about what the results you’ve obtained so far.
- Did you identify or resolve any problems on a specific project?
- Did you do it in record time?
- Did you overcome any obstacles?
- Did you save time, money, increase productivity, increase efficiency? If so, by how much?
- If you saved money, how were the savings used?
- What exactly were the results?
If you can add the result to your achievements, you’re ahead of the rest. A great way to draw the result out is to ask yourself ‘so what’ after each achievement because that is what an employer of recruiter asks when they see statements on a CV that aren’t qualified or quantified).
To see how your resume ranks for a particular job opening, use Jobscan’s resume analysis tool. Paste in the text of your resume plus the text of the job posting, and it will analyse them to tell you where you’ve done well, and where you can make improvements.
Resumes in 2016
Finally, while a good (or perfect resume) can do you a lot of favours, an outdated one can easily hinder your job search. Some formerly traditional resume conventions have now gone out the window.
For one thing, resume objectives have fallen out of favour. The bland one- or two-sentence statements do little to distinguish one candidate from another; most are essentially meaningless strings of jargon and buzzwords, and so broad that they could apply to almost anyone. Beyond that, they typically focus on what a job candidate is seeking, rather than on what they can offer an employer. But a potential employer is most interested in how a candidate can fulfill their needs. So skip the objective and get right to the core of your resume. (At CV Saviour, we’d go so far as to say that when it comes to objective statements, you shouldn’t include one. For starters, they went out with the ’90s. The other reason being that an objective amounts to nothing more than an “I want” statement. And the bottom-line is that an employer doesn’t really care what you want. What they DO care about is their bottom-line needs, and your résumé needs to address how perfect you are for those needs. Your message needs to be clear: “Dear Employer: You’re looking for a [imagine your next job title here], and I’m the best there is. Here’s my record to prove it.”)
The trite “references available upon request” line is also not necessary. References are usually checked as one of the last steps in the hiring process; potential employers will ask you for your references when they want them. (At CV Saviour, we have also been notified of isolated incidents where referees have been contacted by a recruiter prior to the candidate even being asked for interview, which caught the referee unprepared to respond the specifics they were being asked, and the candidate not being invited to interview. Wherever possible, your referees should be fully briefed about the specifics of a role you have been shortlisted for, and you should select the best referee to talk to those skills at that time).
If you want, you can create a references sheet to bring to an interview. This sheet should contain not only details about your references’ roles and contact information, but also how you know them, and which of your skills and experiences they can speak to. If you do regular volunteer work, for example, someone from that organisation is likely to know different things about your capabilities than your former supervisor at a previous job. Including these details will save potential employers time, plus give you another chance to specify your skills and experience. In a job market where resumes are looked at for seconds, rather than minutes, sometimes relevant information can get overlooked.
The main job search tip for 2016 is, in fact, to focus on relevant information. In the past, people padded their resumes with everything they’d ever done. The idea was that sheer quantity was impressive. But today, employers care about what you’ve done more than about how much you’ve done.