Have you been submitting applications and resumes to open positions but receiving zero responses? You find a position that’s a perfect fit for you, you apply, wait, and hear nothing back. Not even a rejection letter. Chances are your resume is missing one of the five must-have components to be effective.
If you’re not getting the responses that you hoped for from your resume, take a few minutes to review the following five critical components to an effective resume. You’ll find out what your resume is missing, fix it, and start receiving more responses.
Your Resume Must Be Relevant
Did you know that 61% of recruiters will reject a resume that has not been tailored to the position? That’s a pretty large percentage of rejections if you’re not customizing your resume for each role.
The most effective resumes are the ones that are targeted to a specific position.
When you don’t customize your resume, the hiring manager won’t see the connection between your experience and their needs. If you need help figuring out how to customize your resume, I share four strategies in this article: 4 Simple Ways to Customize Your Resume for Different Positions.
More than 90% of recruiters want to see related work experience, so if you’re not tailoring your resume to the role you’re not giving recruiters what they need to see you’re a fit.
Key Takeaway: Customize your resume for the position you want, and you’ll see better results.
Your Resume Must Include Personal Branding
Personal branding is about finding and conveying your unique differentiators. It’s your resume success formula and what makes your resume stand out to hiring managers. For your resume to project a strong personal brand, you need to identify themes in your career. Here are some questions that you can ask to help you uncover your personal brand:
- What do you do better than anyone else?
- What is unique about how you do what you do?
- What do others tell you is your greatest strength? What words do they use to describe you when they introduce you to others?
- What is your favorite part of your job?
- What do people come to you for?
- What are you most proud of?
Use the answers to these questions to help you prioritize what to focus on in your resume. If what you do better than anyone else is get a budget under control and save a company millions of dollars, make sure this is front and center on your resume. Don’t bury it at the bottom somewhere.
Your Resume Must Use Industry-Specific Keywords
These are short words or phrases that communicate BIG information. A simple keyword can tell an employer whether you possess the skills, abilities, and qualifications they consider necessary for you to adequately perform the job in question.
It’s important to include the keywords specific to the position you want or you’ll be passed over for any interviews.
Keywords are critical when you apply online because applicant tracking software (ATS) will use them to weed out your resume from the other candidates who are applying and will rank your resume in order of relevance. But they are also important to the human eye.
When the ATS search deems your resume worthy and spits it out for review, the entry-level HR representative reading it will want to see those keywords—and he or she is not going to want to go looking for them.
That’s why I always advocate for having a keyword section (or a keyword competencies section) in the top third of your resume. This way you can immediately communicate to the hiring manager the professional, academic, and technical skills that you possess.
Make it easy for the hiring manager to locate the information they need to make a fit / no fit decision, and you’ll get more interview requests.
Your Resume Must Use Active Voice
Long gone are the days of passive terms, phrases, and information on resumes. The job search process is more complicated, lengthy, and technologically advanced than it was three years ago.
Ditch the “responsible for,” “duties included,” “familiar with,” “knowledgeable in,” and “worked with” stuff. It’s a waste of valuable space that you can use to communicate your accomplishments and what you achieved.
To write an effective resume, replace the passive phrases with action verbs that communicate your achievements.
Here are some of my favorites:
For a more comprehensive list, you can download this free PDF that includes 178+ action verbs, high-impact phrases, and strength descriptors that will help you write an effective resume and generate quicker results.
Your Resume Must Show Results
The majority of recruiters agree that the number one barrier to hiring is a lack of skilled candidates. I believe there are plenty of skilled candidates on the market—it’s just that most of them struggle to convey their accomplishments and results.
Communicating your value and what you’ve achieved is by far the MOST important factor in an effective resume. Hiring managers will predict/judge your ability to perform in the role based on what you’ve accomplished in the past. This is why it’s critical you explain what you’ve already achieved.
One of the best ways to do this is by using a C.A.R. format—this stands for challenge, action, and result. For each position, focus on the challenge you faced, the action or actions you took to address the problem or challenge, and the results of the action you took.
An example of a resume bullet written using this format is:
Secured $2.1M+ savings in banking fees across all UAE markets by negotiating RFPs. Created new platform, implemented SEPA-compliant services, and restored troubled bank relationships to optimize payment services.
The result is that the client secured $2.1M in savings.
The action is negotiating RFPs, setting up a new platform, implementing SEPA-compliant services, and restoring bank relationships.
The challenge is implied—restoring troubled relationships.
Notice how we used action verbs to communicate what the client achieved? Secured, created, implemented, restored.
Try doing the same when writing about your own unique differentiators.
Start with an action verb, follow it up with a quantifiable result, and then show how you delivered the result and the challenge you faced.
If you’d like a list of action verbs, check out this free PDF list I created with 170+ resume action verbs and high-impact phrases.
Sometimes you can leave off the challenge and just mention the action and the result. An example of a resume bullet that’s focused on just the action and result looks like this:
Transformed Prudential’s treasury organization to support EMEA, achieving $2.2M savings by consolidating treasury into a centralized operating model.
Pro tip: Use bolded text to draw more attention to the result you want the employer to read.
So there you have it. The five must-have components for an effective resume. If you tailor your resume to the position, convey your personal brand, use industry-specific keywords, include action verbs, and communicate your accomplishments, you’ll get more interview requests. In fact, I suspect that if you do these five things you’ll be inundated with requests for interviews. We worked with three clients in the past two weeks who received interview requests less than 24 hours after posting and submitting their new resumes.
These components are powerful and they work. They’re the same ones that we use with clients every day to help them land perfect-fit positions.
Take a few minutes right now to answer some questions and get a detailed breakdown of your resume stand out success formula.
Your result will include:
==> the answer to the question “how do I stand out in the proverbial stack?” and make recruiters take notice.
==> a breakdown of the 3 phases of the hiring process you need to understand in 2021 and how to master each one.
==> an overview of your unique strengths and how to position your soft skills alongside the logistics that make you impossible to ignore.
==> insight into your blind spots and strategies for turning your perceived weaknesses into strengths.
==> easy to reference resume examples and so much more…
Ready for more interviews? Let our executive resume writers uncover what makes you the 𝗼𝗻𝗹𝘆 𝗼𝗻𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗷𝗼𝗯. It starts with a phone call. Schedule a free resume strategy session here.
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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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