First impressions matter, even when they aren’t face-to-face. The very first impression you’ll ever make at a prospective company usually happens long before you even score an interview. That’s right. You see, your resume is your critical first chance to make a mark that lasts—hopefully in the best of ways.
Hiring managers look through an average of 250 resumes for every corporate job opening. Often, it only takes a matter of seconds for them to decide if they should read deeper than a quick bullet point scan. In fact, according to a U.S. News and World report, recruiters will look at any given resume for 20 seconds or less before forming an opinion of its creator (you). But if you approach resume creation (or updates) with knowledge and a strategy to win, you can up your chances of making it closer to the interview.
It turns out that there are some very specific things that job recruiters and HR folks look for in each resume. And we’re cracking the code for you so you can revise your resume for the win.
Generally speaking, you want to focus on using action words that pack a punch. Stay away from vague generalities, cliches, and overused phrases. Opt instead for words that capture your essence and your experience.
Ready to wow your resume readers with your writing (and job) prowess? Sprinkle these words throughout your resume to frame yourself right.
Every system can be improved, even if no one realizes it yet. Has your work improved your company or operating procedures? Keep track of improvements made through your efforts, and shed some light on them. Someone who improves things at the company cares about things at the company. And an employee who really cares will be a trusted and welcome figure at any company.
Trained (or mentored)
Words like these show that you have leadership experience and qualities and that you have the potential to be more than just another “follower” employee. Make sure to highlight times you’ve had the pleasure of leading a team or showing a newbie the ropes of the new job. Your future employer may just be looking for capable people who can be molded into the future of the company.
Many people simply follow the status quo, never thinking that the system can be improved. If you’ve come up with ideas that streamlined or improved processes and systems, give yourself a shout-out here. Creating takes an ability to see what’s lacking (and where), out-of-the-box thinking and initiative--and drives individuals and businesses to new heights.
Increased or decreased
This provides quantifiable evidence of your success. Since numbers don’t lie, this gives potential employers a tangible look at what you’re capable of, and how you might help their business thrive.
Before you think your volunteer experience doesn’t count for anything, know this. Highlighting unpaid experiences (or times you volunteered to help out on the job when it wasn’t required) shows that you will help out wherever you can to achieve the bigger picture.
Other resume details to attend to
Be sure to include details that mirror the job posting
Someone took the time to write out that marvelous job description that caught your eye. Why? Because this is the person they’re looking for. Rather than submitting the same resume to every job, spend some extra time to tailor your resume for each job posting. That is, highlight how your experiences uniquely qualify you as the “employee” highlighted in the job postings.
Include your references on your resume
Streamline the job-search process and add your references to your highly tailored resume. This will minimize the work recruiters have to do to seek out information about you and help them see from the start that you’re forthright and proactive.
Craft your professional summary (AKA your top-of-resume elevator pitch)
If you want to capture a recruiter’s attention even before they start scanning, create a short summary section at the top of your resume in bullet point or paragraph form to call out your strengths.