We often hear statistics about how many people apply for any given job opening. If the statistics are correct, recruiters and hiring managers sift through a lot of resumes. What’s the secret to standing out and being one of the resumes selected for follow up?
A Warm Introduction
Nothing helps a job applicant stand out more than an introduction from a trusted company insider. This is one of many reasons why networking is so critical. Having your resume submitted by a contact will get you noticed faster than any other technique. Concentrating on finding jobs where you have connections is far more effective than submitting lots of resumes to companies where you don’t have a contact. Focus on building your network and uncovering job leads that way.
It’s All about Fit
Make your fit to the job and the company very obvious in your cover letter and resume. Customize every single resume to the job and company. This takes time and effort. But, if it’s true that the average resume is looked at for 15 seconds, your ability to meet all the requirements, and successes which demonstrate that need to come through loud and clear, as quickly as possible.
Be Completely Relevant
Likewise, everything on your resume should be relevant to the job. Irrelevant information, however impressive, is insignificant to a busy hiring manager with dozens of resumes to screen. Don’t distract from your fit with irrelevant experience and accomplishments. Show the relevancy or leave it off.
Many larger companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to screen resumes. The hiring manager or recruiter selects certain key words and only resumes that contain those words are surfaced. Your resume should include keywords so you are not eliminated because of a software screen. However, most resumes are still read by humans so don’t load your resume with awkward words to the point where it sounds odd or is unreadable.
Keep it Current
A resume with recent achievements and successes looks more impressive than one that shows no current activity. To keep your resume current, volunteer, intern, mentor or take classes if you don’t have a chance to add new skills and experience at your current job.