Writing your resume
Your resume is an important and powerful tool to help you make a great impression. The problem is, employers tend not to spend very long looking at it, and often make their assessment in less than a minute. That's why smart job seekers spend a lot of time perfecting this document to strike the right balance: You want to put enough information to prove that you're qualified, but you don't want to bore the hiring manager with pages of useless bullet points and details.
To help you craft an ideal resume, Business News Daily rounded up some of the best expert tips — including some surprising ones — that will make you stand out, and land you that interview.
Tailor your keywords
Most employers use applicant-tracking systems to identify qualified candidates. Make sure you're showing up on their radar by using the right keywords on your application materials.
"Many resumes today are screened first by an automated system and then by a recruiter before they ever make it to a hiring manager's desk," said Joyce Maroney, a senior director at The Workforce Institute at Kronos Inc. "Therefore, it's even more important than ever to tailor your resume to the position you're applying for. It's equally as important to make sure that keywords from the job description also appear in your resume."
"A properly written and professional resume will mirror the candidate described in the job posting by employing the right keywords, the right job functions and the right aesthetically pleasing format," added Wendi Weiner, a certified professional resume writer and owner of The Writing Guru. "Results and accomplishments will accentuate the job functions, while core skills will enable the resume to be keyword-rich in content and a structured format with the right headings will draw the reader's attention."
Keep it concise
A common piece of resume-writing advice is to keep it to a single page. A mid- or senior-level applicant can certainly be forgiven for going a bit over this "standard" length, but in general, one page is a good rule of thumb.
"Less is more," said Cristin Sturchio, global head of talent at the business research firm Third Bridge. "Why have two pages when you can have one? Why say it in 12 bullet points when you can say it in 10? Write clear, concise sentences that make your point and save the detail for the interview. If it takes a hiring manager too long to figure out what you did, he or she will likely move on."
"[Whether your resume is] being reviewed by a recruiter, team lead, developer or CEO, they need to be able to skim it and get the gist," added Elizabeth Hall, vice president of people at project management solution Trello.
List your social media profiles
It's a well-known fact that many hiring managers today search for potential candidates on social networks. Save them a step by providing your profile links on your resume. Seasoned applicants with an existing professional social presence would do well to include URLs for their LinkedIn profile, Twitter account and blog, if applicable.
"If, and only if, your social media accounts are filled with professional posts pertaining to your industry, listing them on your resume can be advantageous," said Richie Frieman, author of "Reply All [And Other Ways to Tank Your Career]" (St. Martin's Griffin, 2013). "They can show you have a strong network and are up to speed with modern-day marketing and communications practices. The hiring manager will see that you like to keep up with what's happening, and that you care about learning more."
Use quantifiable data
You might not think numbers and percentages are important when listing your job accomplishments, but potential employers want to see exactly what your contribution was to your current or previous company. The most effective resumes contain information related to results, said Trish O'Brien, director of human resources at Caliper.
"Saying you've designed a successful benefits program is vague, but saying that you've designed a benefits program that saved the company $1.5 million over three years, while maintaining a 90 percent employee approval rating, tells me that the candidate is as strategic as they are tactical," O'Brien told Business News Daily. "I need to know what you accomplished, and how it contributed to bottom line success."
Charley Polachi, managing partner of Polachi Access Executive Search, recommended taking an "alpha and omega" approach when figuring out how to incorporate this information into your resume. What was the state of the company when you joined and where is it today? For example, you can write, "Added 10 new clients in two months," or "Improved sales by 15 percent last quarter."
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Discuss your side projects
Even if potential employees are working on side projects unrelated to the full-time job they are seeking, it may be worthwhile to include those efforts on a resume. Any kind of side venture, side business or project that could be indirectly related to the full-time work you're pursuing is a good idea, said Dana Leavy-Detrick of Brooklyn Resume Studio.
"This is a great way to show employers that you're using your own time to acquire and grow skills outside of the job that will help you develop and contribute in the long run," Leavy-Detrick said. "It's also a great way for job seekers to engage in the type of work and learn the type of skills that really interest them."
Include all employment details
Job seekers who have gaps in their resume may be inclined to leave off specific details about employment tenure, but O'Brien urged candidates to name previous employers and the time frame in which you worked for them.
"I look at the employers to get a sense of whether your experience is with large or small employers as well as the industries with which you may be familiar," O'Brien said. "The lack of these items may make me pass on a resume. I look at the time frames to determine 'stickiness.' I don't place as much emphasis on the amount of time at one employer, but may look at the chronology of types of companies or positions to get a read on potential performance."
Leverage your failures
The last items you'd think belong on your resume are the things you did wrong at your last job, but one expert says featuring your failures can actually help you get a job.
"One non-intuitive thing employers want to see on a resume is failure," said Phil Rosenberg, president of reCareered.com. "Employers want to see that you've tried, failed and learned from your failure, all on a prior employer's dime. This demonstrates innovation, willingness to take risks, [and] faster reaction and response time. It is also a learning experience, and failure teaches success."
List your low-level jobs
Even if you think that some of your past jobs are trivial, one expert says they may still help you get a job. Cody Teets, author of "Golden Opportunity: Remarkable Careers That Began at McDonald's" (Cider Mill Press, 2012), said employers know that working at a fast-food restaurant isn't easy, and it can help a job seeker's resume stand out.
Teets, who serves as vice president of franchise relations at McDonald's Corp., said employers value the things that workers learn at their early jobs. At McDonald's, for example, workers learn to operate as part of a team, to challenge themselves and to roll with the punches, all skills that will come in handy at any job.
Add relevant awards or recognition
Have you won any awards for your work in your field, or been officially recognized by industry organizations? List these accomplishments on your resume.
"One thing that top employers consistently seek out is proof that a given candidate is uncommonly talented or driven," said Michael B. Junge, a recruiting expert and author of "Purple Squirrel: Stand Out, Land Interviews, and Master the Modern Job Market" (CreateSpace, 2012). "This is particularly true if the talent or drive is directly relevant to the job at hand, but it's also true for applicants who have competed at a high level in other areas. High-performing companies are always looking for an edge in the marketplace, and having a team of competitive and passionate employees on board can provide a significant advantage."
Say it in a video
Don't be afraid to ditch the traditional resume and try something different, one expert says. One option growing in popularity among job seekers is a video resume.
"Including a link to a video resume is a great way to set yourself apart from the crowd and impress hiring managers," said Josh Tolan, CEO of video interview solutions provider Spark Hire. "On video, job candidates can show off their personality, communication skills and ambition. It can help hiring managers get a better insight into the candidate and will allow them to envision how the candidate would fit into the company culture. Employers want to see job candidates who are confident and able to come up with creative solutions to common problems, and video resumes are a great way to demonstrate just those qualities."
Additional reporting by David Mielach.