The Importance of a Resume…and Why It Shouldn’t Be Canned!

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By: Jill Thompson

Never underestimate the value of a well-written resume. Your resume is often the first impression you leave on a prospective employer, so take the time to make it great!

The primary purpose of a resume is to land an interview! It should shout out professionally: HIRE ME!  You want me on your team! Make it easy for the hiring manager to know exactly why they want to bring you in for an interview. Connect the dots for them.

How do you do that?

In this competitive market, your resume needs to be action oriented, easily understood, factually correct and written with the potential employers needs in mind – not your own. Here are four tips to a powerful resume that will get you noticed.

  1. Pick a format that works for you: Chronological resumes generally work best for job seekers with stable career progression in one or two fields. Functional resumes focus more on skills and achievements, and are helpful if there are gaps in employment. You can also do a hybrid of both.
  2. Add a Branding Statement: 3-4 impactful, easy to remember sentences about yourself. What makes you standout? What are your greatest strengths? What’s ONE word that describes you?  What are you the “go-to person” for? What is unique about your skillset?
  3. Use Accomplishment Statements: Instead of listing responsibility bullets under each job, ask yourself, “So what?” Why am I putting this on here? At ICC, we like the CAR technique. Challenge – Action – Result. These statements recount your ability to handle situations and problems, and they build credibility. They demonstrate successes you’ve had.
  4. CUSTOMIZE your resume for each job: Don’t send out the same “canned” resume for every job. Have you ever felt like your resume landed in a black hole, never to be heard from again? Often, before a resume gets into human hands, it goes through applicant tracking software that looks for key words. If a certain percentage of key words isn’t met – your resume goes into the NO pile. Don’t let this happen. Instead:
    1. Add key words and use similar language from the job description.
    2. Address the requirements for the role & tweak your resume to ensure you are highlighting these skills.
    3. Demonstrate through your accomplishments how you are a match for what they are looking for.
    4. And lastly, find a qualified career coach to help. If you are applying online to jobs and not hearing back, this is a red flag that your resume needs some work.

It goes without saying – your resume should be free of grammar and spelling errors. It should be visually appealing and well-organized. And I can’t emphasis enough: Tailor your resume for every job. Generic resumes will not make it through.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

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