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Sunday, January 12, 2014

How to Write a Resume AND Actually Get a Response

Resume Tips and Tricks
This is not your typical How to Write a Resume article.  Please make sure you have read all the basic Resume tips and tricks before reading this one.  I am going to assume you know how to format, spell check, and write bullet points that highlight measurable results.  If you have done this and have applied to numerous jobs without success, then this article is right for you.

Basically the point of your resume is to land an interview.  Let us assume you are applying to companies that have an actual person reviewing resumes, as opposed to a computer searching for key words.  Time is of the essence to prove to the manager or recruiter looking at your resume that you can do the job.  Make it easy for them to realize that.  You might think it is obvious how your experience applies and relates, but it is not.  When you are competing against a couple hundred resumes to stand out, anything you can do to make it obvious you are a match will be the difference between getting a response and not.

Here are 5 of my Favorite Tips to help you Take Your Resume and Chances of Getting an Interview to the Next Level:

  1. Make It Easy for the Manager and BOLD it:  Pull the job description of the role you are applying for, and look at the responsibilities and requirements.  Highlight every single one that applies to you and make sure it is in your resume multiple times.  For example, if you are applying for an inside sales role that involves cold calling, lead generation, and presentations.  Literally write a bullet point and BOLD any time in your jobs or activities where you did this.  Notice how I have bolded phrases in this article.  That is what I want you to do.  Are you a student?  Even if you just have the experience from the classroom, make it a bullet point and BOLD it.  The end goal should be a recruiter being able to skim your resume and have the words cold calling, lead generation, and presentations stand out multiple times in your experience.  A little light bulb will subconsciously go off in the recruiter’s head that says “Wow this person really has the experience I’m looking for” and that is what you want.
  2. Throw Away the Objective:  The Objective on a resume is outdated.  I prefer starting with a Professional Profile.  Underneath the section, make sure you just get straight to the point and be extra specific.  For example, go ahead and name the company you are applying at in your opening.  Here's an example for a student applying for an internship, “I am a Go-Getter working and volunteering time while I attend school.  I recognize the need to gain some real world experience and am set on landing a media sales internship at COMPANY NAME.  I am ready to hit the phones and cold call, research, deliver some impactful presentations, and whatever else is needed to help the team.”  Of course, put it in your own words so it reflects your personality and philosophy, but you get my point.  You can also see how I chose to bold certain words.  Make sure you bold what you want to stand out if they are only skimming.  The Company wants to know that you want to work specifically for them.  They also want to know what you’re going to do for them.  
  3. What’s in the Cover Letter:  Unless they specifically ask for a cover letter, I would just write what you would write in your cover letter in the email you use to submit your resume.  Do not repeat what is in your resume.  Include what your resume does not.  Maybe why you are interested in THE COMPANY specifically and who you know that works there.  If there is something obvious in your resume that you feel has stopped you from getting a call back, then address it.  Maybe you are applying for a Director role when you are a current Vice President or you have a gap in employment, or you live in a different city than the role is based.  Sometimes, recruiters do not have time to call and get the explanation.  They will just assume that it is not a fit, so be sure to hedge your bets and answer those unspoken questions.  Let them know how excited you are about the opportunity and even if you do not end up landing the job that you would love to grab coffee because you are always interested in learning.  You would love the chance to hear their story.  Always be positive and genuine.  People are automatically attracted to those they do not feel are only trying to get a job out of them.  And who knows, you might learn something.  I hate to say it but it is really all about who you know sometimes, so you need to keep expanding your circle.  This is how you do it, by genuinely connecting with like-minded professionals in your industry.
  4. Extracurricular Activities or Professional Associations:  Whether you are a student with little experience or a tenured professional, I would add (in order of relevance) after Activities or Associations.  Try to make it obvious how these add to your qualifications for the specific job you are applying.  Make sure you can share measurable accomplishments.  It gives your prospective employer an idea of the scope or level of responsibility you had.  The company does not know context, so you need to provide it for them.  If you are a student, perhaps you were the first one to increase membership of your chapter to a certain level.  You should share how you did so.  Or if you are on the Board of a Professional Association, and they never had a formal marketing strategy or campaign and you implemented one, then you should share the results of that.
  5. Skills:  Not sure you need a Skills Section, unless you are applying for a technical position.  These usually include phrases like, "Proficient in Microsoft Office, Excellent Communication Skills, Team Player etc."  They are all generic terms that most people have on their resumes and they are also hard to measure, so they do not really mean anything.  If however, you are applying for a technical role, then by all means, do list all those capabilities.  Technical jobs can be a different animal altogether.
I know you hate to hear it but you really need to have a different resume and cover letter for each job you apply for.  I know what you are thinking, "Well that is a lot of work.  I do not want to do that."  That is, of course, your choice.  However, if you have applied to numerous positions without any responses, then maybe it is time to consider doing something different.  Go ahead and try some of the tips I mentioned.  Do a test run with 3-5 companies.  What do you have to lose?  You might actually write a resume that gets you a response.

You Might Also Enjoy:

Job Search Tips
How Boolean Can Help Your Job Search
Salary Negotiation
How to Ask for a Raise

Job Search Tips
How to Write a Cover Letter

Job Search Tips
How to Contact a Recruiter on LinkedIn


  1. Ok first I want to say that your baby is so cute at the laptop and with the Hire Me sign! I can see other posts you have written in the preview area and it is so adorable. :) I've never heard of these tips, but I have been out of the working world for over 2 years now and I had my first job out of college for almost 4 years before that so you can probably see why this stuff is new to me! Thank you for sharing with us at Countdown in Style! Don't forget to stop by to see if you are featured on Friday! xo

  2. My sis is applying for a job right now, I'm sending this over to her. These are the points I was trying to make, but you summed it up perfectly (as you should)!~ Thanks for sharing and linking up with Countdown in Style! Don't forget to come back on Friday to see if you were featured!


  3. You may enjoy this podcast about using computer screening before or in place of interviews.

    There's no transcript at this time, it's audio only. In short, these studies say that for call center employees and computer programmers, some factors people have always looked for are statistically unimportant. Such as having a college degree or similar work experience. Whereas other personality questions highly correlate to success.

    Of course I have no idea how well these studies were done.

  4. Hi Thanks for useful tips.I am gonna definitely try this in 3-5 companies ( Different Cover Letter and Resume). I hope this tactic will help me gaining better opportunities which I am looking for.


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