One of the frustrating things about the job application process is figuring out how to grab and hold the attention of a potential hiring party. It’s difficult to figure out what to say about yourself, as well as the skills and experience you possess in a way that makes you stand out from the many, sometimes hundreds of applicants that are vying for the same position. Then there’s also that self doubt that sneaks in and makes you feel like you’re being arrogant by touting your skills and expertise. Well, as a chronic application submitter and constant pursuer of new opportunities, I’ve picked up a few ideas on what brings a resume into focus when a recruiter/hiring manager is sifting through applications. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
Reading is Fundamental- No seriously, Read the description of the job you’re applying for thoroughly. Pay attention to the words being used in the listing to see if you notice any patterns. They usually reveal the employers main concern in terms of what skill they want you to possess and what they’re currently struggling with. Yes, they do try to communicate what they think is important for the incumbent to have, but they’re also communicating what they themselves value in the person they would like to hire for the role. If you notice any verbs that are being repeated over and over, you should find a way to incorporate those words into your resume as well. I’m not saying you should do a CTRL + F and replace some verbs with the ones you found in the job description. I’m saying take some time to do it carefully so it doesn’t look like you just jammed it in there.
If you see a better description for your role, adopt it- You can browse through the jobs listed on LinkedIn, Glassdoor, indeed etc. for the position you currently occupy to see how hiring managers are describing it. If you find a description that communicates the job that you do more effectively, adopt it. Its all about speaking the same language as the employer. I’ve found that people pay more attention to the things you’re saying if you convey them in the same manner as they do. This is not to say that you should lift a whole job description and replace your resume with it, what I’m suggesting is that you incorporate more polished descriptions of the roles you have had into your resume while staying true to what you’re doing in your job.
Use ACTION VERBS- In the one opportunity you get to summarize your skills, accomplishments and talent, please for the love of God don’t be passive! This is your moment to wow the hiring manager. Don’t come off as unimpressive or unaccomplished because you chose to use the wrong verb. Take a look at your resume, see if you’re undermining your accomplishment by using verbs and phrases like “responsible for” “duties included”. Just say it! Say what you did! Say that you Executed, Created, and Facilitated. Be the subject of your resume and not just an observer. This does not make you sound arrogant or self absorbed. It makes you sound confident and decisive.
Quality over everything- Be concise, yet descriptive. If you can say something in one word, don’t use a phrase to say it. Choose loaded words that describe your work but also leave room for further explanation. Don’t include irrelevant facts just to make it seem like you’ve done a lot at the position you’re describing. If it’s irrelevant, the hiring manager will stop reading. That being said, if you’ve worked on projects or assignments that were not part of your job description and feel like they showcase your skills and expertise effectively, by all means include them. Don’t leave them out because they were not part of your original role.