In my job I look through hundreds of resumes a week, and also communicate by text, email, or phone call with a large quantity of those candidates. In essence, I am the first line that a candidate must get through in order to obtain a position with my company. Below are some of the tips I have to help you in your career search, and getting past that first line or what I like to call, getting past the gatekeeper.
The first thing you will need in finding a job is to have a quality resume. A resume is usually the first glimpse a hiring manager or recruiter will have of you so much like first impressions, you want your resume to be good.
First, you need to build a template resume. This is the resume you will have with your main headlines such as work history, education, technical skills, dates of employment etc. This is a generic template; so, with your work history do not go into detail yet about what you did there, just put the workplace and your title. Once you have created your template resume, save it; then, when you have a specific job in mind, you can edit the document to cater to the job. The most important thing to remember about a resume is that you must tailor the resume to reflect the relevant details of your job history or education to the job that you are applying for. For instance:
If I wanted to apply for a job at XYZ company for a position as a “Community Marketing Specialist” I would want my resume to reflect that role. Let's say you just graduated college. That means the hiring manager will most likely not care at all if you put down “team member” at McDonald's. Is that good experience? Yes, but it won’t get you that job. However, if you were a president of any clubs, or led any community service projects, or maybe you pitched ideas to the city chamber of commerce for one of your classes etc., those community leadership experiences would be great things to highlight. Of course, it is important to list your McDonald's job because HR likes to know you can hold down a position, but don’t stress it. Stress the community activities, as those actually relate to the job.
Now, this means you will be creating several resumes. Literally for every job you apply for, make a relevant resume. It takes time, but it is worth it. (Remember your template resume can save you some of that time.) Look thoroughly through the job description, find the most key elements to the description and reflect them in your resume. Does the job call for someone with experience in business analytics? If you have that skill, highlight it, spell it out, and put it in the forefront. If the job calls for someone who is knowledgeable in a particular program, highlight that as well. Remember to be truthful, yet highlight your relevant skills. It’s amazing how many times I have spoken to candidates who had a particular skill, but had not included it on their resume; it was not until I picked up the phone and asked them, that I learned of this skill. The problem is, you can't afford to wait to be called. Most employers will reject your resume unless everything is spelled out for them.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when building your resume:
1) What is different or intriguing about you?
Recruiters do not want to read your life story, but if you have any cool interests or skills unrelated to the job, it can be intriguing. For instance, I came across an applicant who was not the best match, but I ended up calling them because they had served 5 years in the Peace Corps. It turns out that their experience overseas stood out and was very applicable to the position I was seeking to fill.
2) Is your resume visible online?
Don’t just post your resume on one website. Utilize as many job board sites as you can; for example: monster.com, careerbuilder.com, and indeed.com. Some recruiters only work on one job board, so spreading out your resume’s between sites will help you get more visibility.
3) Are you applying for positions for which you are qualified?
Make sure that your qualifications closely match the position. If you have 2 years of experience in marketing and the job description calls for 4 years, go ahead and apply. But, if the job description is for a registered nurse, and you are a medical assistant, don’t waste your time.
4) Is there anything grammatically incorrect or inadvertently funny about your resume?
If your resume is rampant with grammatical errors, no one will pass it on to HR. At the same time, make sure there isn’t anything humorous about your resume. You might get noticed if you have “ball care coordinator” as your current job title ("Ball" as the name of the company and "Care Coordinator" as the job title).
5) Are you highlighting the important skills on your resume?
Recruiters and HR managers spend a great deal of time looking at resume’s, which means they scan them very quickly. Therefore, you want the important things to be noticeable; for example, list the most relevant skills first.
These tips are designed to get your resume noticed and passed from the gatekeeper to the hiring manager or recruiter. In my next post, we will discuss the next steps in this process.
Jonathan King, Co-founder