A Better Resume
If you're searching for a job or looking to make a career move, chances are you have to polish that resume. How long has it been since you worked on that document? If you're fortunate enough to have been gainfully employed for a long time, your resume skills might be rusty. Let's see if we can help.
The Customized Resume
First rule – avoid one-size-fits-all resumes. This is a big mistake that most job seekers make. They use the same resume for every job search, regardless of the industry or job title for which they are applying. Tailor your resume to the job description and the skills the employer is looking for. The employer will appreciate the foresight and professionalism, and many times, this exercise alone will tell you if you are really qualified for the position! It could save you valuable time and help you focus your efforts on the searches that could yield the greatest results.
Here's another very valuable reason to submit a customized resume. Most organizations today have applicant tracking systems to sort through the large volumes of resumes they receive. When you submit a resume for a job posting, the tracking system will look for data – keywords and phrases – that best match the qualifications being sought by the employer. If that system determines that your resume contains keywords that best match the search, you stand a better chance of having your resume selected for a personal interview – whether in person, or by phone. But at least, you've been invited to the dance. Don't be a wallflower.
Let's Talk About Keywords
So now you know, the digital resume is here to stay. And your keywords – the words and phrases that recruiters or employers use while searching through those digital resumes – are an integral part of your 21st Century resume. Finding ways to use relevant keywords could be the difference between your resume rising to the top or being lost forever. You need to know which words and phrases are most appropriate for the job you're applying for. Think of those keywords as "buzzwords" used by insiders in the profession or industry that is targeted by your job search. Those keywords identify how those insiders describe their skills and qualifications in their profession. You can find these words by spending time reading industry publications and blogs, and by talking with people who work in those industries. It's vitally important that you find the right keywords to include in your resume, so when you make the digital submission, your resume will be identified by recruiters. You can also look at job postings on similar jobs to find the keywords describing skills, experience and certifications – these will be valuable to help you craft the correct keyword set to include in your custom resume.
Personal Resume Content
Here's what you might want to identify when crafting appropriate keywords that will talk about you and your unique experience:
- The job title of the job that you want next.
- Standard job titles for your current and previous jobs.
- Names of job-specific, profession-specific, and industry-specific tools that you use, or are qualified to use, due to your education and work experience.
- Software and hardware that you use, or have been trained to use, particularly if it's unique to your job, industry, or profession.
- Names of techniques that you use or are qualified to use.
- Industry and professional organizations that you have joined.
- Trade shows and conferences that you have attended.
- Professional terms – the more the merrier, as long as they're appropriate to your experience and education.
- Certifications, licenses, or other proof of professional or industry knowledge you have achieved.
- Other jargon that describes your work, typical products and/or services involved.
Now the Resume is Polished, Get Ready for the Phone Interview
Remember that, more and more, phone interviews are becoming just as important as face-to-face interviews. They're more efficient for the employer and generally do a good job of screening candidates for just about any position. Be prepared to convey a confident and professional voice when asked to participate in a phone interview.
In all of your dealings with your job search remain true to your goal, stay focused on your career aspirations, and don't be afraid to ask the employer questions. Inquisitive, engaged, thoughtful applicants are what employers are looking for. It gives them a chance to get to know you and to get a sense of whether or not you would be a good fit for the organization. And if the employer provides adequate answers to your questions, it will be similarly valuable information for you. Good luck on your job search. Now, get out there and be great!