Resume Tip Tuesday: Extreme Resume Hacks to Give You an Edge

Posted February 03, 2015

Welcome back to Resume Tip Tuesday! Come to CareerBliss every Tuesday for a brand new resume tip to help you in your job search! Check out the archive for resume tips galore!


Extreme Resume Hacks

It feels like you've been unemployed forever. You live in your carpet slippers, your cat lives on your lap and you consider putting on actual pants to go to the grocery store be the pinnacle of your week. You've applied for so many jobs that when you get one of those rare callbacks, you have no recollection of ever applying to the position.

And then you see it - the perfect job. A position at your dream company, right down the street from you - and just posted 5 minutes ago! You want this job with every atom of your being.

But wait! Before you scramble to submit your resume, stop, take a deep breath, and invest a few minutes beforehand in doing a little groundwork that will pay off tenfold, with these top 5 resume hacks.

1. Google Till You Can Google No More

In these digitally connected days, almost anything is findable using the internet, with a little imagination and a lot of persistence. When submitting a resume, we all know you should personalize it as much as possible to increase your chances of getting hired. And to do that, Google should be your new best friend.

For the sake of time, you'll want to limit yourself to a few choice searches:

  1. Find the hiring company's website. Thoroughly read the 'About Us' page (at the very least) to ensure you know exactly what the company does.
  2. Read a few entries on the company Blog to get a feel for the company culture. Are their blogs lighthearted and fun, or data-based and dry? Most Blog posts are written or at least approved by their PR department, who are in charge of the brand's overall image. Use that insider knowledge to tweak your resume and cover letter to use the same 'voice' and tone.
  3. This is a very sneaky technique: for extra points, use the brand colors of the company website and logo in your resume. For instance, use red and white on an application for Coca Cola, or sky blue for an Intel resume. This is a very subtle technique, but chances are that whoever reads your resume will feel an odd sense that you will fit in well with the company, but won't be able to work out why. Just don't be too obvious about it.
  4. Next up, head on over to LinkedIn and search the company name. This will bring up the option to view the company profile page, people who work there or have previously been employed there, current job openings and discussion groups. Read and learn.
  5. This is a 'brownie points' step, but chances are you'll be able to find the hiring or HR manager's LinkedIn page. I find that viewing the hiring manager's headshot is very helpful, as it allows me to write the cover letter to an actual person, rather than a faceless corporate entity. You may also be able to view recommendations of the person by co-workers, see their specialties and work history, and even learn what charities they volunteer for (this is more for the interview stage, but it doesn't hurt to be over-prepared).

2. Hack Yourself Before the HR Manager Does

Numerous studies reveal that the first thing a hiring manager does after reading a great applicant's resume is to look up that person on Social Media. Just as you, the job-seeker, need to know whether a potential new employer is stable and reputable, your new employer needs to know the same thing about you.

Here are some of the top things a recruiter or hiring manager may look for:

Your LinkedIn page. Is your online resume consistent with the resume they hold in their hands? Does your profile page have a professional photo? Do you have any positive Recommendations written about you? Do you belong to any clubs or societies related to your industry?

* Your Facebook page. Your potential employer isn't just looking for incriminating party snaps here, they will skim-read your Facebook Wall to get an overall impression of your status updates, the comments you leave on other's posts, and even the people and groups you associate with. The thinking goes that if the majority of your online friends are into drinking, drugs or any kind of extreme behavior, chances are you will think or act in a similar way.

* Your Twitter stream. What is your general 'average' mood, revealed over time - happy, angry, hostile? Are you constantly complaining about ill health or personal drama? Have you ever posted any racist or sexist remarks, or made negative comments about past employers or co-workers?

* General web search. If they have your email address or learn your online nickname, Google will instantly reveal a wealth of information you might have thought was 'invisible,' for instance, comment trolling on news articles or posts about your embarrassing health symptoms on specialist forums.

Your Web Footprint helps them build up an overall impression of you and your online behavior, all of which will help your potential new employer decide whether or not you'll be a good fit for the position. If you find anything potentially incriminating during the above process, your next step will be to clean up your online identity.

3. Build Your Professional Relationships in Advance

Relationships matter. That's according to Jobvite’s 2014 Social Recruiting Survey, which revealed that 60% of job candidates actually hired are found through inside referrals.

Due to the current glut of applicants for each open position, employers are seeking any advantage they can get to help them choose Candidate A over Candidate B. Being recommended by a current trusted employee or at the very least having online connections with existing employees or industry peers lifts you head and shoulders above other candidates.

If you don't personally know anyone who works at your dream company, this may take a little work, but the payoffs will be great. The most professional way to form a connection with a company insider is by engaging with them on online industry forums, for instance by commenting on any articles or blog posts they may have written, or engaging then in a discussion on an online industry forum they frequent.

How not to do it - 'out of the blue' Facebook invites, or LinkedIn messages demanding they add you to their network. Both are very unprofessional and are the job equivalent of stalking. People know when they are being used. Build a quality relationship built on mutual interests in your industry that will last, not a throwaway facade that will crumble as soon as you get the job.

 4. Include a Testimonial or Two

Authors do it. Movie posters do it. LinkedIn does it. We're talking, of course, about a relatively new phenomenon in resume writing - the testimonial.

In the olden days, you included as standard a list of the names, addresses and phone numbers of your ex-bosses, co-workers and professional acquaintances. The nightmare of this antiquated practice is that for every job you apply to, you have to first ask those people for permission to jet their private details off willy-nilly into cyberspace, and then if you actually get an interview, you have to once again contact those people and let them know to expect a call. And then get down on your knees and pray they're not at a noisy bar or sporting event when that sensitive call eventually comes.

Who answers their phone to an unknown number these days? Not me, you can bet your bottom dollar.

Testimonials have a nice way of getting around that whole time-consuming and potentially humiliating mess. The trick is to get a written recommendation from the most pretigious person or people you have worked with. The boss or CEO is the gold standard, but managers or peers are acceptable. As them to write a paragraph or two max about your strengths as an employee, any notable achievements, and a line or two about your good personality or work ethic.

Include these at the end of your resume, in italics. Don't forget to put quote marks around each one, and to add the person's name and job title.

5. Submit Your Resume in Multiple Formats

Utter those three hated letters to a recruiter - PDF - and watch their face screw up like they've just eaten a lemon. The reason recruiters hate resumes submitted in PDF format is that most recruiters use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS's), which are giant digital filing systems for resumes. Every resume they receive goes straight into the ATS, which automatically peels apart each resume and slots the various pieces into a universal template it can then scan and sort using keywords.

Most ATS's (including Taleo, the #1 most widely used system) throw up errors when they try to scan a PDF, so recruiters are faced with the fun choice of either manually entering your data or sorting out a scrambled card. A recruiter's time taken up sorting out a PDF means less money earned for the recruiting company, which equals your PDF resume being sent to the bottom of the processing pile or 'accidentally' filed in the trash.

Moral of the story? If you absolutely MUST submit your resume in PDF format, include a second version output to WORD format, just to ease the strain on your poor recruiter's heart.

Tune in next Tuesday for another awesome resume (or cover letter) tip!


Natasha Rhodes is a careers expert and writer for CareerBliss, an online career community dedicated to helping people find happiness in the workplace. Check out CareerBliss for millions of job listings, company reviews, and salary information.

photo of Natasha Rhodes

Natasha Rhodes

Natasha Rhodes is a careers expert and writer for CareerBliss, an online career community dedicated to helping people find happiness in the workplace. Check out CareerBliss for millions of job listingscompany reviews, and salary information.

Other Articles Written by Natasha Rhodes

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