Getting Your Resume Out there and Getting it Noticed

Most companies use Applicant Tracking System (ATS) portals to analyze and scan applications, résumés, and CVs to rank and filter the best-suited applicants for vacancy criteria.  Recruiters typically notice and hone in on definitive results shown as numbers or metrics.  In a tough job market, you need to stand out, add results or accomplishments to help recruiters and hiring managers visualize your potential for a job they are seeking to fill.   

Employers want to know “how you can help their company.”  Adding results of what you did, or explaining the steps you took to achieve an outcome or accomplishments will convey that.  Creating an optimized résumé will show the value you can bring to an employer.  Other tips to consider:   

 

Adding Accomplishments to Give You Credibility  

Use numbers, percentages, specific dates, or dollar amounts to quantify your accomplishments will help recruiters or hiring managers visualize your potential impact, value you can bring to them, and serve as powerful negotiation tools when the topic of salary arises.  

  • Consider a problem you solved or a solution you implemented and describe a benefit or outcome it had for a business, customer, or employee.  
  • If you can answer the following sample questions with a metric or result, consider adding the metric/result to your résumé:
    • Did you manage a budget (add the amount), did you manage any direct/indirect employees, or did they report to you (add the number?)

    • Did you contribute to increasing customer service survey scores (add 'before and after score' to show change, and describe change?)

    • Did you have Profit & Loss or fiscal responsibilities for overall business operations or employees (add the amount or add number of people?)

    • Did you add operational improvements (describe changes), manage people (how many), or contribute to growing company revenue (how much?)

    • Did you bring in new business, create a new product or service or retain customers by ensuring high-quality products and services (how many?)

    • Did you save time or save costs, or reduce company expenses (add how much) to improve a process, procedure, or efficiency (describe change?)

Tailoring Résumé to Targeted Job Description

 

Though a job description, the company is telling you exactly what they want and use ATS portals to scan applications, résumés, and CVs to rank and filter the best-suited applicants for their vacancy criteria.  Make sure you use their terminology in your résumé and cover letters so that the recruiter (or robot) reading your résumé immediately sees that you've done your research and are suitable for the role.   

  • Use keywords used in the job posting and ensure you include them throughout your résumé. If the company asks for a team player, make sure 'team player' is on the résumé. If they want someone who is data-driven, write how you "used data-driven leadership to grow revenue 50%".

  • Develop a résumé with effective keywords to achieve an 80% match rate or higher to increase the chances it will be seen by a recruiter.

  • Focus on the effectiveness of résumé content and keyword matches towards the criteria for a targeted position you are applying for, with a focus on hard skills, soft skills, and company-specific skills to help your résumé stand out.   

  • Use "jargon" that “speaks the language” of the industry or employer you are applying for, it shows your understanding of the field or the company. 

  • For word count of your résumé, if you are not applying to executive-level or government jobs, consider reducing the length to under 1,000 words to increase the focus and ease of reading by recruiters.

Strengthening Your Hard Skills and Soft Skills with Rich Keywords

Use exact keywords.  If a skill can be an acronym or variation, aim to mimic whatever is on a job description since it is likely what the recruiter will search (i.e. product management vs. product manager).  Hard skills show proficiency while soft skills show communication and relational abilities.

  • “Skills” or “Valued Experienced In” section on your résumé will allow recruiters/hiring managers to see the skills you have at a glance.

  • The key to changing your career is identifying your transferable skills, such as critical thinking,  strategic planning, organizing, or leading. 

  • Hard skills and soft skills form a well-rounded job applicant and creates a good balance between knowledge and interpersonal attributes.

  • Soft skills are people skills or personality traits that revolve around character, teamwork, communication, time management, or work ethic.

Formatting Your Résumé and LinkedIn Profile

  • Send a consistent message in terms of content and design for all your career marketing documents.

  • Include city, state, and zip code as the ATS allows recruiters or hiring managers to filter candidates based on location.      

  • Include a personal phone number (not work number) and professional email (e.g., marysmith@gmail.com), do not use a school or college email.    

  • Explain employment gaps, as they may affect ATS filtering recruiters use when scanning work history.  If gaps, consider using years only (e.g., 2019).

Other Résumé Tips to Consider 

  • Most company websites will let you know the preferred format accepted (e.g., .gif, .rtf, .doc, .pdf, .docx, .csv, .txt).  The preferred formats are .pdf and/or .docx).   Try to avoid using flow charts if you can, recruiter databases can not parse them.

  • If a skill, certification, or degree is commonly written as an acronym, aim to mimic what is on a job description as it is likely what the recruiter will search. For example: PMP vs. Project Management Professional, CPA vs. Certified Public Accountant, or MBA vs. Masters of Business Administration.

    Note:  if room on your résumé, increase your chances of being a match by using both. For example, 'Project Management Professional (PMP).'

  • Show the name of your uploaded résumé to recruiters by keeping your résumé file name professional, and special character free. Use your name and a short title to stand out (e.g. 'Resume_John_Doe_Sales.doc' or 'Resume_Doe_Phd.pdf').

  • Use recognizable tenses, abbreviations, or acronyms of skills and keywords. Tailor your résumé keywords to be an exact match to what is found in the job description. If you have room in your résumé, add variations of keywords to account for recruiter searches. For example, put the common acronym in parentheses and use a variation of the term elsewhere in your résumé: 'Project Management Professional (PMP)' plus 'project manager'.

  • Finally, network your way to success! Do you know someone who works at the company you applied to? Maybe an old coworker, classmate, acquaintance? Ask them for a connection into the company to get an opportunity to show yourself as a solution to a problem they may be facing. 

Creating Résumés With A Results-Focused Approach