Applying for a job can sometimes feel like an exercise in futility-you can send out lots of resumes and rarely receive a response. Chances are, the culprit is your resume. Many people believe they should have only one version of a resume. But not all positions and industries are alike. In order to maximize your chances of success when applying for jobs, you should tailor your resume to the opportunity you are pursuing. By knowing what hirers look for in qualified candidates and by following a few simple guidelines, you will maximize your chances of success when sending out your resume.
Since many companies often receive hundreds-if not thousands-of applications for a given position, hirers spend only about 10 seconds reviewing a resume. That said, your resume must hook a hirer’s attention. The way to do this is with a concise, strong headline at the top of your resume, just below your name and contact information. Your headline is one of the easiest ways to custom-tailor your resume to the position you´re applying for. Think about today´s newspaper-what headlines grabbed your attention and made you want to read the ensuing articles? How would you introduce yourself to a hirer? Examples of effective headlines include:
2. Summary of Qualifications (SOQ).
Once you´ve hooked a hirer´s interest with your headline, use the SOQ to summarize up to 8 one-sentence bullets that explain why you an ideal candidate for the job, focusing on areas of expertise, relevant job titles held, years of experience, and pertinent certifications and education. Also, closely read job ads, and if possible, incorporate the same type of language from the ads into your SOQ. Doing so can help create a better match between your resume and the hirer´s ad. Examples of strong SOQ bullets include:
3. Professional Experience.
The professional experience section, which follows the SOQ, is where you describe how your skills and experience made positive contributions to your employer´s bottom line. Be sure to include a mix of soft skills (such as communication, interpersonal, and negotiation skills) as well as hard, or technical, skills (including percentages, dollar amounts, and numerals are all great ways to attract a hirer´s attention). List your employment history in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent experience first. Alternately, if you are switching careers or if you have a significant gap in employment, use a functional format, which breaks down experience by skill sets that are relevant to the positions being pursued. One advantage of a functional resume is that by emphasizing general skills, and not specific tasks accomplished at a company, you can apply for a greater range of job titles and industries. An example of three skill sets could be Project Management Skills, Team Development Skills, and Administrative Skills. If you use the functional format, be sure to follow this section with an employment history section, listing company names, job titles, and dates of employment.
4. Education and Certifications.
An education section is important to include on a resume, though if you feel that your graduation year ages you, leave the date off of the resume. The most important information here is to list your highest level of education, school, and area of concentration. The education section is more relevant for entry-level professionals with minimal professional experience. Also, many employers now require candidates to have completed a certain level of education, so including your education on your resume is vital to your job application success.
5. Page Length.
Remember the 10-second rule-hirers are busy people, too, and don’t have a lot of time to review every resume. Keep your resume short and to the point. Don´t exceed 2 pages for senior and executive-level positions. A professional with fewer than 5 years of experience should have a 1-page resume. Also, delete unnecessary articles (such as “a,” and “the”).
Tomorrow, learn some additional ways to maximize your job application success, including whether you should include your salary requirements, the pitfalls of typos, and more.