The resume you present to a recruiter is a great way to make a first impression of your potential new employer. Of course, you want the recruiters to be excited and want to know more. The biggest challenge when looking for a job is getting a recruiter interested in you just through this one-page document.
In this day and age, technology pervades all aspects of our lives and has revolutionized the way recruiters view applicants. Companies have started using Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) as a tool to quickly identify which candidates they want to advance in the application process.
The system searches the resumes for certain “keywords” and some contextual elements so that recruiters no longer have to read every single application. Unfortunately, this can result in well qualified applicants being screened simply because they lack what the system was programmed to do.
Why your resume structure matters
Customizing your resume so that it is laid out correctly and includes the phrase, keywords, and overall message is vital to landing a job. Not to mention blindly sending an email to an inbox flooded with messages from others who are just as eager to be hired as you are.
How you communicate your previous work experience and skills is just as important as yours. I hope by the end of this post you know how to make your resume so memorable, polished, and effective.
How your resume is presented affects how you are perceived. Most people are surprised to learn that the font style, size, and color of a resume can improve or reduce your chances of getting a response. Each professional field has different standards for an acceptable resume layout.
For a business position, use a resume with a simple layout, clean lines, and minimal colors, with the exception of black and white (possibly a touch of blue to add some pizzazz).
If you decide to take on a graphic design position, take this opportunity to hone your design skills and create an exceptional yet effective layout. I found some of my favorite free resume templates on Canva.
Ready to start? Here are some tips to help structure your resume and get your dream job.
At the top of your resume
In the top half of your resume, a recruiter should be able to do a quick scan and find your contact information, education, and skills. Avoid being too verbose and boring with this section above, especially as it highlights your skills. If the recruiter doesn’t notice what you’re saying, you will likely be skipped.
Skills section of your resume
Again, your skills should be at the top of your resume.
Most companies have “keywords” that they use to describe their employees. Finding out what this is takes just a little bit of online research, and a recruiter can be really intrigued to see this on your resume.
Make sure the skills you list apply not only to the position but to yourself as well. Don’t just drop random adjectives that sound impressive. It may sound like time consuming to have different résumés for each role you apply for, but I promise you it can have a significant impact.
The resume you submit for a position in Human Resources should not highlight the same skills that you submit for a sales position. They are two completely different roles that value different types of skills. Your skills should be written in a bullet format and I encourage you to be creative with the language.
Here are some tips to help you communicate your soft skills. For a sales role, say “dynamic speaker” instead of “strong communication skills”. Another way of saying “works well in groups” is “collaborative team member”. Keep the number of soft skills you list to a minimum and always include your certifications or hard skills like SEO, Indesign, etc.
Brainstorm skills that qualify you for the position and mark them on the top third of your resume.
At the bottom of your resume
At the bottom of your résumé, list your work experience. For each position, don’t forget to include your job title, when you worked and what you achieved during your stay.
Use an action verb or numerical proof when describing your accomplishments as these are more precise and clearly demonstrate your role. Words like “guided,” “generated,” and “spearhead” are great first words to use here.
Getting a job after college or trying to advance to rank mid-career are two of the biggest challenges professionals face. Hence, the effectiveness of your resume is an essential part of your success.
Hopefully this article has helped you build your resume structure and get your dream job.
Be proactive and find what your employers are looking for. However, make sure that your resume is an authentic representation of yourself. If you put in the work it is sure to pay off.