September is International Update Your Resume Month! Whether you are passively job seeking, open to new opportunities, or unemployed and raring to secure a new position, it is time to polish and revamp your resume to ensure success in today’s job market.
Maybe you’ve heard of Applicant Tracking Systems, or read an article about their use. Or maybe not! No matter; the important thing to keep in mind is that the vast majority of companies are using ATS software to “parse” your resume for specific keywords and qualifications.
The other key takeaway is that there are hundreds of versions of this software, and that sadly, it does not work very well. Plenty of excellent candidates have been weeded out by ATS because their resumes were not using the right keywords, or because of an issue with formatting.
Best practices for ATS/Online applications:
-Don’t put information in headers/footers
-Avoid infographic resumes or PDF files
-Use a .doc or .docx file
-Remove any unusual formatting/text boxes/tables/graphs
-Remove live links
-Spell out acronyms (at least the first time they are used)
-Use standard section headings like “Professional Experience”
-Include your full contact information with a zip code
-Include months and years (ATS calculates dates)
Most importantly, make sure you are using relevant keywords throughout the resume! Borrow from a job posting to ensure a strong alignment.
Make Your Resume Visually Distinct
The content is undeniably the most important aspect of your resume, but when it comes to first impressions, having a polished, visually distinctive resume can set you apart from the rest of the pile—and even reinforce your stature or personal brand.
The danger here is going overboard—no one will take a resume printed on color paper seriously. But with strategic choices you can bring your resume into the 21st century.
Easy ways to spruce up your format:
-Add background color to the section headers
-Add a graph or chart to highlight quantifiable results
-Use a slightly less standard font such as Cambria, Georgia, or Verdana
Optimize Your Content with C-A-R
One of the most common issues with resume content is a tendency toward job description. While it is important to provide a brief overview of the scope of your roles, that should never be the focus of your resume. Instead, think about your achievements and contributions.
Using CAR statements (Challenge-Action-Result) is a wonderful practice to ensure that your professional experience is cast in a positive light.
For example: a medical strategist who worked at a pharmaceutical company came up against the challenge of her organization lacking any set processes for global publications. She acted to create, standardize, and implement an SOP for publication roadmaps. One result of this was cost savings of over $1.5M.
If you remove the Challenge, Action, or Result piece from the above example, it is immediately less impactful. Telling the whole story in the least number of words is what resume writing is all about!
If you are looking for more tips on revamping your resume this September, check out our 30 Days of Resume Tips on Twitter and LinkedIn for Update Your Resume Month. We’ll be sharing resume writing tips every day for the whole month of September. Also, for the month of September you can receive a free resume review. Contact Great Resumes Fast at 1.800.991.5187 or email your resume here with your resume review request.
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About the author
Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast
Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.
What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.
You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!
I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!
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