The beginning of every job search starts with a resume. When read by human eyes, your resume will get the reader’s attention for only 2.5 to 20 seconds. Taking into consideration the length of time that the average reader will spend on your resume at first glance, tailoring your resume to the job or industry you’re applying to and only including relevant experience will help you stand out in a sea of applications.
What story are you telling hiring managers with your resume? How are you, the job seeker, going to grab that hiring manager’s attention? To ensure your resume tells an effective narrative, keep these four quick tips in mind when tweaking your resume to fit the next new and exciting opportunity you apply for.
Trying to sell? Show, don’t tell!
Your resume is the first chance you have to make an impact on a hiring manager. If you’re trying to get the biggest bang for your buck and wow your reader, try including only relevant transferrable experience that places emphasis on all that you’ve accomplished and supports where you want to go next. Try emphasizing your skills and place a focus on the experience that relates most to where you’re trying to grow in your career.
So what does this mean? Let’s say you’re applying to a job where customer satisfaction is important. Instead of listing, “excellent customer service skills”, try writing something like, "average call rating of 4.8/5 stars."
Showing a hiring manager just how capable you are of excelling in their company is ultimately what they’re looking for. Try listing all the qualities you want to get across to a hiring manager and see if you can rewrite them in a way where you describe how you grew that skill, how you applied that skill at work, or an example of something you’ve achieved that demonstrates that quality.
What impacts have you had in the workplace?
Instead of only describing what your job duties were, try describing how you specifically affected the workplace and added value. Piggybacking off Tip 1, your resume should be accomplishments-driven. Explain any progress, additional responsibilities, or career progress you’ve made throughout your career.
Were you the one who gave the idea to your boss for a new process that cut down on production time? Did you spearhead the events committee that ended up boosting team camaraderie? Don’t just list it, describe it.
In your resume, list the things that you’ve done that made you a valuable member of the team. Bonus points if you can explain how or why. Awards or any sort of recognition are also valuable in signaling to your resume’s reader that you have a track record of going above and beyond for the team.
Don’t forget about those transferable skills!
Part of creating a compelling story is showing how you’ve grown professionally and gained experiences from job to job. Transferable skills are a great way to show this. Let’s say, for example, you started your career as a customer service representative and now you’re applying to a position in logistics. That logistics job will require problem-solving and excellent phone skills. In the customer service role, you’ll want to emphasize your experience in customer service and highlight how you’ve grown that skill throughout the different positions you’ve held.
Working backward from the job posting of the position you’re applying to will help decide which of your transferable skills to call out and how to call them out to make the most impact.
If you simply say “multi-tasked regularly” on three or four positions on your work history, that will mean less than if you were to describe how you multi-tasked, what you did, and how successful you were in each position. By highlighting your qualifications for employment, you are showing proof of your capabilities, and that’s what a resume is all about.
Stay on topic!
Think about the last book you’ve read, movie you’ve seen or TV show you binge-watched. What do the most compelling stories have in common? They stay on topic. If there’s too much fluff or unnecessary information, the plot becomes hard to follow. Good resumes follow the same rule. If a bullet point doesn’t advance the point you’re trying to tell hiring managers, get rid of it.
If you’re listing irrelevant experience just to have something down on paper, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Not only are you risking hiring leaders “checking out” from your story, but you’re also undercutting the argument you’re trying to make. The length of your resume matters. Give them a taste, explain why you’re a great fit for the role with your bullet points, but don’t give away all the mystery- save something to be discussed during the interview itself!
If you’re not sure which work experiences to cut out and which to leave in, ask yourself, “What am I trying to tell the hiring manager by leaving X in?” "Does it help or distract from the argument that I am the best person for this role?" Remember, keep it concise. Your resume is meant to pull in hiring managers, intrigue them and leave them wanting to know more.
Taking that next big step in your career can seem like a daunting or impossible task, but it’s not as far out of reach as you may think. When you apply storytelling techniques to your resume, you are creating a picture of who you are and what you have to offer.
Your resume is the first chance you have to market yourself to employers; it humanizes you and shows you are more than just your previous experience and education. By keeping these four quick tips in mind when writing your resume, you are giving yourself the tools you need to reach for the stars, impress hiring managers, and set yourself up for success when trying to land that new dream role.