7 Key Resume Factors That Can Increase Your Hireability up to 140%
The folks over at TalentWorks recently released the results of a great study they did on hireability. They analyzed more than 4,000 of their users’ resumes and applications to determine key factors that contributed to greater interview response rates—and what they found is going to knock your socks off. From your branding statement to your skills section to your work experience, you can incorporate their findings to make an employer pay attention to your resume and take the next step in your career.
I’m not going to dive into all of the study specifics; but if you’re a statistician, you’re welcome to review the specific parameters of their study on their website—but it’s all Greek to me, because let’s face it: I’m a resume writer, not a mathematician.
TalentWorks lists 13 key factors that can give a job seeker improved chances for getting hired, but in this article I’m only going to write about the seven that can directly help you with your resume writing. These helpful resume writing tips are going to make you stop what you’re doing and immediately update your current resume. And, when you do, I hope you’ll drop me a line and let me know how much your interview response rates—and hopefully hiring success—increased because of these resume writing tips!
Create a Targeted Resume with Industry Buzzwords, Keywords, and Acronyms
Using relevant, industry-specific keywords, acronyms, jargon, and buzzwords increased interview rates 29% for job applicants. Doing so is an effective way to tailor your resume for specific industries and positions, especially when it comes to getting your resume through applicant tracking systems.
So, how do you find the right keywords?
Google is a great place to start. You can always research position-specific keywords that way.
LinkedIn is another great research resource. Look up skills based on specific positions or read through positions posted on LinkedIn to see which keywords are listed within each job description.
This article by Susan P. Joyce of Job-Hunt.org is very informative and a must read: Build Your Personal SEO: The 25 Best Keywords for You in Your Job Search.
If you prefer books, I personally love Wendy Enelow’s book: 1500+ Key Words for $100,000+ Jobs: Tools to Build Winning Resumes. It sits on my desk so I can reference it easily while writing. It is a dream resource for resume writers. I’ve also heard good things about Jay Block’s book: 2500 Keywords to Get You Hired.
Results with Numbers
I’m not sure there is anything else that provides more substantive proof of your successes and accomplishments than using numbers from your work history to back up results. And no, this doesn’t just mean the number of your years of experience. It means data. Anyone can claim to be successful, results-driven, or great at what they do. However, when you have the facts to back up your claims about your career, then what you’re stating is not only more believable but also increases your interview responses 40%. That’s a substantial increase.
Here’s an article that explains how to incorporate numbers into your resume when you have none.
I also recommend trying to answer the following three questions about your experience and achievements:
Usually the answers to these questions lead you in the direction of numbers you can incorporate into your resume.
Being a Team Player Does NOT Give You an Effective Resume
Believe this or not, TalentWorks’ analysis actually showed that using statements or mentioning more than once in a resume that you were a team player or contributed/assisted/participated as part of a team actually hurt the applicant’s response rate 51%. It turns out that while employers may want a team player, on your resume they’re looking for signs of being an individual contributor and how you personally add value and ROI. Great resumes speak to what your qualifications and achievements are and what you bring to the table as a candidate for the job.
Avoid these weaker, passive words when writing a resume and instead opt for leadership words—which leads me to the next key factor for an effective resume.
Leadership-Oriented Words Give You a 51% Boost
According to the analysis, weaker, passive words hurt your hireability—but showing action with leadership words actually increases your interview response rates by a whopping 51%! How’s that for a competitive edge? As a professional, you need to write your resume in such a way that it demonstrates your leadership skills. Using strong leadership words conveys your strength to a potential employer without you just using the cliché “skilled leader” on your resume.
Jenny Foss wrote this great article: 34 Words You Can Use in Your Resume to Highlight Your Leadership Skills. I love how she breaks them down into different sections like “Words that show you’re a trailblazer” and “Words that imply a strong developer of people.” Check out her article for examples of great leadership-oriented words that you can use throughout your resume. Try not to repeat words, but do incorporate one every few sentences.
Personal Pronouns Do NOT Belong on Your Resume
Man, I have been preaching this for YEARS—10 years to be exact. I’m actually kind of excited to have some hard numbers to back up what I’ve been telling people for so long. Using personal pronouns on your professional resume will decrease your response rates 55%. Wow! That’s a pretty significant dip. If you find yourself asking “Should you use ‘I’ in a resume?,” listen to me right now—absolutely NO personal pronouns belong on your professional resume.
Key Skills Sections Are Very Important
In the first third of your resume you need to include a key skills section with a list of 15-20 keywords (read: hard skills) that are relevant to the specific position and industry that you’re targeting. I’m spelling out that they need to be specific because some people think they can throw whatever keywords they want up there and see what sticks. Not true. Do your research and determine the top 15-20 skills that are relevant to the position you’re targeting and be sure to include those.
I’m also specifying that they need to be hard skills because soft skills simply don’t give a hiring manager a clear, strong picture of what you as a professional can do for a company. Instead, you end up repeating clichés and using up valuable resume space that could be used for tangible accomplishments or hard skills that will get the attention of hiring managers. When hiring, employers want to see solid information about your experience, your accomplishments, and your skills—not the buzzwords you saw on resume templates from Google.
A key skills section on your professional resume gives a 59% boost to interview responses.
Here’s an example of what that could look like:
Action Verbs for the Win!
Oh, here is another topic near and dear to my heart: action verbs! No other factor contributed such a massive impact to hireability and increased interview response rates as much as adding action verbs at the beginning of each sentence (to the tune of a 140% increase!!!). You can pick yourself up off the floor now. Looks like I’m not the only one who loves action verbs—hiring managers do too.
Here are a couple of tips to remember:
Start sentences with verbs that describe your professional achievements and the value you add. People making a hiring decision want to know what you have done in your professional career and what you can do for them. Action verbs help you tell them this strongly, and hiring managers don’t have to guess at what you are trying to say. They don’t have time to read between the lines in the middle of a lengthy hiring process.
Don’t repeat the same action verb over and over. Check out this awesome infographic with a list of more than 100 action verbs. You’ll never have to use the same one twice.
And the use of action verbs goes for your cover letter, too—don’t fall into the trap of passive voice there, either.
So, if you’d like to increase your interview response rate and advance your career, then you need to be sure to use industry-specific buzzwords, include numbers with your results, don’t go overboard mentioning you’re a team player, use leadership-oriented words instead, get rid of all the personal pronouns, create a key skills section that includes 15-20 keywords, and start sentences with action verbs. Do all that and you’ll be well on your way to capturing the attention of prospective employers, executive recruiters, and hiring managers to land more interviews according to the recently released article Science of the Job Search from TalentWorks.
It’s challenging trying to write a resume that will impress employers. You might be a great writer generally, but the skill set required to write resumes that get results is different from almost every other kind of writing. If you’re struggling while writing your resume, or don’t have the time to invest, I’d love to help you create a resume that gets your career moving in the direction you want. A professionally written resume can be just the kick-start your career needs.
Explore the Great Resumes Fast website for more resume writing tips, resume samples, and information about why we’re a top choice when you’re looking for the best resume writing service out there.
I’ll tell you a few reasons why we are a top resume writing service right now, though. First, we have a team of professional resume writers who are certified and have industry experience. We have a quick turnaround time that doesn’t sacrifice quality and comes with a guarantee. We don’t use resume templates—instead we provide personalized service and get to know your work history and your career goals to help with your personal branding before we write your resume. Get the attention of potential employers now with professionally written career documents from Great Resumes Fast.
Are you tired of your resume being rejected by applicant tracking systems? I know how frustrating it is to submit your resume and receive no response. I hate seeing qualified people never breakthrough the screening process. It shouldn’t be that way. That’s why I created this guide and I encourage you to download the FREE PDF so you can start seeing better resume response rates!
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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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