5 Reasons Your Resume Doesn’t Stand Out From the Crowd

Resume_writing-1

The time has come to look for a job. You’ve been editing your resume like a maniac, taking in all the advice on what to take out and what verbs to use. And after much tinkering and typo eliminating, you’re finally done — and it looks just like everyone else’s. How are you supposed to stand out now?

Fret not. Here are five ways your resume makes a recruiter’s eyes glaze over and, more importantly, smart ways to fix that.

1. You have a generic “experience” section

If your main resume section is “Work Experience” or the slightly better but equally forgettable “Professional Experience,” you’re missing out on a big opportunity to personalize your resume.

In place of “Work Experience,” consider customizing this section to “Event Planning Experience” or “Editorial Experience” — whatever is most appropriate for your skill set and the position you’re looking for. Having a keyword right in your section heading has a great branding effect on your overall resume.

This is especially useful if you have a diverse range of experiences, but really want to show off your experience in one particular area. You can have all of your relevant experience in one section at the top of your resume where the recruiter will first look and add an “Additional Experience” section for everything else.

2. You focus on responsibilities instead of accomplishments

I’m not even going to go into how facepalm-inducing it is to start a bullet with “Responsibilities include,” so let’s just go ahead and assume you start your bullets withgreat action verbs. Even so, you might still be falling into the trap of describing what you do day to day instead of the projects you’ve completed or the results you’ve contributed to. Here’s an example of how to distinguish between the two:

Bullets on responsibilities

  • Coordinated artist press releases
  • Managed customer mailing list
  • Handled photo and press releases to media outlets
  • Assisted in radio copywriting
  • Performed various other duties as assigned

Bullets on accomplishments

  • Coordinated 8 artist press releases that contributed to an increase in annual sales by 14%
  • Compiled and maintained a mailing list of 12,000 customers, the art center’s largest ever
  • Organized photo and press releases to CNS Television and Yorkville Daily News
  • Collaborated on a team of 3 editors on the copywriting of promotional radio commercials for 16 events

See the difference? The first one shows what you did—while the second details exactly what kind of impact you’re sure to make in the future.

3. You use tons of clichéd buzzwords

Are you a “go-getter” who “thinks outside the box” and is all about creating “synergy” in organizations? That’s great, but recruiters hate seeing these overused buzzwords on your resume.

Instead, think of examples of how you’ve demonstrated these traits in your work. (Need help? Here are a few great cliché-free ways to show off your soft skills. Adding results and accomplishments to your resume is a much more interesting way to show off who you are — and ultimately, makes you much more memorable.

4. You sound like you have no life outside of work

If you are a marketing professional with five years of experience, how are you setting yourself apart from all the other marketing professionals with five years of experience? How do you show your passion for your field or that you have other attributes to bring to your position?

One way to do this is to include a section on your resume for “Community Involvement” or “Leadership.” Alternatively, you could expand your “Skills” section to “Skills & Interests.” Whatever you intend to include, whether it’s the event planning you do for your professional organization or the volunteer math tutoring you do on weekends, make sure to show that you do more than show up at work and do as you’re told.

While you don’t want to take this to an extreme — anything you include should be relevant to the job you’re applying for — it’s a great way to show off who you are as a person.

5. You didn’t include a cover letter

Do you hate writing cover letters? Well, so does everyone else. Which is why few people put in the effort to write a really outstanding one, if they write one at all. Some job applicants think, “Well my experience should speak for itself” or “Everything I have to say about my qualifications is on my resume.”

In some pretty specific cases, that could be true. Even still, in the rigid structure of a resume, your personality just has a much harder time shining through. The cover letter is your chance to really introduce yourself as person and not just as a set of skills.

The next time you have to write a cover letter, try Alexandra Franzen’s approach: imagining that you’re writing to someone who already believes you’re qualified. Take that confidence and go from there.

It’s so important to be open to advice and feedback as you’re creating or updating your resume, but be careful not to take out what makes you special. It could be that extra sparkle that gets your foot in the door!

BY LILY ZHANG for The Muse

Source: http://mashable.com/2014/04/23/boring-resume-fixes/?utm_cid=mash-com-fb-main-link#I9Rm2efjkmqC

How to Write Job Descriptions for Your Resume

Your job descriptions are one of the most important parts of your resume. They show prospective employers what you have accomplished in the jobs you’ve held. Job descriptions also provide a synopsis of your experience and skills.

How to Write Job Descriptions for Your Resume

Before you start adding job descriptions to your resume, you may want to make a list of accomplishments at each of your jobs. This will prepare you for actually pulling your resume together.

Skills and Achievements

After you have written a job description, look for ways to make your explanation more concise. Make an effort to create effective impact statements. Highlight skills and achievements, providing only enough detail to support your premises. Try to edit out pronouns and articles. Begin phrases or sentences with verbs. Choose strong words — here is a list of resume action words that work well.

If you will be submitting resumes to organizations that scan them into searchable computer databases, include as many industry and job-specific “keywords” as possible.

When searching databases for potential candidates, employers seek resumes with the greatest number of “hits” on keywords. Keywords are most often nouns.

Be Selective

Be selective with the information you include. Determine its relevance by putting yourself in your potential employer’s position: Will this information help convince the employer that you are a worthwhile candidate to interview?

You do not have to include every responsibility you ever had. Group together similar tasks. For instance, rather than listing “Answered phones” and “Responded to customer emails” in two bullet points, you can combine and say “Resolved customer issues through phone, email, and chat conversations.”

Prioritize Job Description Information

Next, think about prioritizing the information you provide in each description. Present details that are of the greatest interest to potential employers first.

For example, consider the candidate seeking a job in interior design. The resume might reflect a retail experience in which 75% of the candidate’s time was spent on the sales floor and 25% was spent designing window and floor displays. Priority, determined by relevance to the employer, dictates that design of window and floor displays should be listed before sales.

Example

Sales Associate, Retail USA, New York, NY October, 20XX – Present

  • Designed all large windows using color as primary focus.
  • Created engaging point-of-purchase displays for slow moving small items; increased sales of these items by 30%.
  • Organized floor displays to maximize space and call attention to latest merchandise.
  • Utilized strong interpersonal and communications skills to serve customers; received employee of the month award twice.

Quantify Your Accomplishments

Quantify as much information as you can (numbers, dollar signs, percentages can all help to make your case). A bullet point that reads “Grew traffic 35% year-over-year” is more impressive — and informative — than one that reads simply “Improved traffic.”

Nearly any description, for any job, can be enhanced through the use of numbers. A waitress might start out with the description “Took customer orders and delivered food.” But a quantified description saying, “Served customers in upscale 100-seat restaurant,” provides much more insight.

Bottom line: Employers like numbers. It’s much easier to look at a signs and symbols than it is to read words.

Emphasize Accomplishments Over Responsibilities

It’s important for employees to know you have the necessary experience to do the work required in the position. Still, many candidates will have this relevant experience. To stand out, emphasize how you added value. Focus on accomplishments, rather than responsibilities.

As seen above, numbers can be your friend when it comes to highlighting your accomplishments. As well, provide context. For instance, you might say, “Increased revenue by 5%, after several years of decreasing sales.” Or, rather than saying “Answered phone calls and dealt with customer concerns,” you can say, “Resolved customer concerns, answering approximately 10 calls per hour. Became go-to person on the team for dealing with the toughest phone calls and most challenging complaints.”

While it is important to keep descriptions short, adding details and context can help show employers why you’d be a good match for the position.

Here are tips for how to include accomplishments on your resume, as well as a sample resume with accomplishments.

by 

Source: http://jobsearch.about.com/od/resumes/a/draftdesc.htm?utm_content=buffer13df3&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin.com&utm_campaign=buffer

10 Tips to Get the Applicant Tracking System to Pick Your Resume

You might have been rejected for a job before your prospective employer even laid eyes on your resume.  It’s a harsh reality, but the advent of online applications and digital resume submissions have made it easier for applicants to apply for jobs, expanding the number of resumes that employers receive.

stand out from crowd - Copyright Cogal/E+/Getty ImagesAutomated Systems That Screen Resumes

In order to screen this large volume of resumes, many employers use software to help them to conduct an initial screening of resumes.

Almost all large companies utilize automated systems to screen candidates, and a significant number of middle size organizations do the same.  Companies with less than 50 workers are much less likely to use such a system.

These Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) screen out or reject an estimated 70 percent or more of the resumes submitted either because the documents don’t reflect the desired qualifications or are formatted in a way that the system can’t digest the information.

Paying careful attention to how you format and compose your resume can increase your chances of moving past this initial screen. Here’s how to beat Applicant Tracking Systems and get selected for a job interview.

10 Tips to Get Your Resume Past the Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

1.  Make sure your application contains keywords relevant to the job you’re applying to.Review the qualifications listed and implied in the job advertisement.  Make sure you also visit the company website to determine if a more detailed job description is available.

If there’s not much information available, you can review similar job vacancies on major job sites like Indeed.com to gain further insight. Or, interview professionals in your target field and inquire about the keywords and jargon they would recommend using given the knowledge and skills that are most highly valued in the field.  Make a list of words and phrases used to describe the ideal candidate, and incorporate them into your job application materials.

2. You can use the most critical keywords more than once if possible, but don’t go overboard. There will be no penalty for repetition and systems often tally points for each mention of a key asset, up to a realistic point.

3.  Incorporate a skills section or a summary of qualifications to list keywords for assets that you might have difficulty fully supporting through descriptions of the positions you have held.

4. Generic resumes are the enemy of Applicant Tracking Systems and will be the first documents screened out. Be sure to tailor your resume to each job that you are targeting. Incorporate as many of the keywords and phrases that you have identified in the job description as possible, though make sure your writing still sounds natural and reads well.

5.  Don’t leave off the dates of your employment. Systems may be screening based on the amount of experience required for a particular job.

6.  Keep the format simple and avoid fancy graphics.  Plain text Word documents are usually the most easily digested by Automated Tracking Systems.  PDF documents can be troublesome for Automated Tracking Systems.  Use a font size of at least 11 points and margins of at least one inch on all sides.

7.  You can usually utilize a somewhat longer document than the traditional 1 – 2 page resumesince length doesn’t typically matter for ATSs.  Most systems will generate a summary of your resume data for decision makers and not yield your actual resume. However, some employers will retrieve your actual document and view it online. To account for either case, use a simple but attractive format and avoid unnecessary and flowery language that will distract the reader from focusing on your most essential qualifications.

8.  Some employers will also use software to search the web and assess your social media presence.  Cultivate your brand online.  Make sure the facts represented through your social media profiles are consistent with your resume and applications.

9.  Develop and save a “human eyes only” version of your resume for small employers, when you are dropping off resumes or networking.  You will still also want to bring a few extra copies of your traditional resume to your interviews.

10. Don’t put all your eggs in the automated online application basket.  Regardless of how well your resume is designed to penetrate Applicant Tracking Systems, you should still place a high priority on networking strategies.  Given the flood of online resumes submitted to employers, it helps to have advocates inside organizations pointing out their view that you are a viable candidate.

Most employers have an employee referral program, and an endorsement by a member of their staff might enable you to bypass an ATS screen.

Source: http://jobsearch.about.com/od/resume-write/fl/get-your-resume-past-the-applicant-tracking-system.htm

8 Things Recruiters Notice About Your Resume at First Glance (and 4 Things That Don’t Matter)

Resume1When recruiters look through a stack of resumes for candidate screening, what is the vital information they focus upon?

Answer by Ambra Benjamin, engineering recruiter at Facebook, previously LivingSocial, Google and Expedia.

I think this varies from recruiter to recruiter and also depends on the role for which you’re applying. For one, I don’t look through stacks of resumes anymore. I hate paper. I do everything online. But I’ll highlight briefly how I personally absorb a resume.

I should preface this by saying that I primarily recruit for senior-level individuals. In my past life, I was a campus recruiter and you read resumes of new grads a bit differently, since experience is less of a factor.

How I read a mid- to senior-level resume

  • Most recent role: I’m generally trying to figure out what this person’s current status is, and why they might even be interested in a new role. Are they laid off? Did they get fired? Have they only been in their role for a few months? Is their most recent experience relevant to the position for which I’m hiring?
  • Company recognition: Not even gonna lie. I am a company snob. It’s not even that I think certain companies are better than others (although some are). It’s purely a matter of how quickly can I assign a frame of reference. This is often more difficult to do when a candidate has only worked for obscure companies I’ve never heard of. When I can’t assign company recognition, it just means I have to read the resume a little deeper, which usually isn’t an issue, unless it’s poorly formatted and wrought with spelling errors in which case, you’ve lost my interest.
  • Overall experience

    Is there a career progression? Do they have increasing levels of responsibility? Do the titles make sense?

    Is there a career progression? Do they have increasing levels of responsibility? Do the titles make sense? Do the responsibilities listed therein match what I’m looking for?

  • Keyword search: Do they have the specific experience for the role for which I’m hiring? I Command + F the crap out of resumes. On any given day, I’m searching for things like Ruby on Rails, Mule, Business Intelligence, MBA, Consulting, POS, Cisco, Javascript, and — seriously — anything you can think of.
  • Gaps: I don’t mind gaps, so long as there’s a sufficient explanation. Oh you took three years off to raise your children? Fine by me, and might I add, I bow down. You tried your hand at starting your own company and failed miserably? Very impressive! Gap sufficiently explained. Whatever it is, just say it. It’s the absence of an explanation that makes me wonder.
  • Personal web presence: This includes personal domains, Twitter handle, GitHub contributions, dribbble account or anything a candidate has chosen to list. Two out of three times, I almost always click through to a candidate’s website or Twitter account. It’s one of my favorite parts of recruiting. Random aside: I care less about what people say on Twitter and more about who is following you and whom you follow. There’s so much insight to be gained by seeing who values your thoughts.
  • General logistics: Location, eligibility to work in the U.S.
  • Overall organization: This includes spelling, grammar, ease of use and ability to clearly present ideas.

Total time it takes me to do all of the above: Less than 30 seconds. Note: I will likely later read the resume far more in-depth, but only if I already know I like the candidate. It takes me less than a minute to fully digest a resume and flag that person for follow-up. I read a resume pretty thoroughly once I know I will be speaking to that person on the phone. But I will not thoroughly read a resume of someone who did not pass the above categories.

Things I rarely pay attention to

  • Education: In the last month alone, having viewed hundreds of resumes, I honestly don’t remember looking at this section once. When I used to exclusively recruit MBAs, this was one of the first things I looked for because I was generally looking for top-tier B-schools. When I used to be a campus tech recruiter, I immediately checked for top CS schools.But outside of my old campus recruiting days, I am not often looking at the education. I think this is because at the level for which I generally hire, it’s the least of what I’m looking for. Experience is king. I can think of a few exceptions when perhaps a hiring manager wanted a certain pedigree, but I find that’s happening less and less. I will also add that this changes drastically by industry and company. I currently work in tech, but I’ve also worked in management consulting — and education is huge in consulting. I’ll also add that some tech companies care more about education than others — take Google or Facebook, for example.
  • Fancy formatting: There are exceptions here. I say this with the caveat that I love a creatively formatted resume. LOVE. In fact, on Pinterest, I’ve started collecting beautifully presented resumes. However, it’s important to keep in mind that if you’re applying to a position online, whether it’s a PDF or not,

    most companies’ applicant tracking systems parse your resume for information and convert it to pure text as the most immediate viewing format.

    most companies’ applicant tracking systems parse your resume for information and convert it to pure text as the most immediate viewing format.Recruiters don’t often see how awesome your resume is. The original file is usually there for us, but most recruiters aren’t clicking through to that. If you’re going to do something fun with your resume, I recommend having a clean text resume as well, whenever possible, so it doesn’t come through our system looking wonky. Also, if the formatting is important, always send in PDF. Nine times out of ten, if I genuinely like a candidate and all I have is a text resume, I’ll ask them to send me the prettier version for when I present them to a hiring manager.

  • Uncomfortably personal details: There are legal reasons here. I learn to tune out certain things like marital status, family status (whether or not a person has children), reference to health or medical issues/triumphs and personal photos. Including things like this is common in CVs in other countries, but it seriously makes me uncomfortable when people include photos with their resumes. If I want to see what you look like, I’ll look you up on LinkedIn.
  • Cover letters: I abhor them and rarely read them. Most of my recruiting colleagues agree, but I know there are still recruiters that do. I find that a lot of candidates don’t even send them anymore. If you’re going to send one, that puppy better be darn good. I’m of the mind that most companies that request cover letters only do so to weed out the people who haven’t bothered to read the directions.

Things I wish more people would do

  • Bring personality into the resume: We recruiters are staring at these missives all day long. Throw a joke in there somewhere for goodness sake. Talk about how much you love Nutella (I have this in my own personal resume). If you’re a rockstar, throw some cheeky self-deprecation in there (if you can do so elegantly). I think it’s important to keep the work experience details as professional as possible, but trust me, there are ways to have fun with it. 

    I love an easter egg buried in a resume, figuratively speaking.

  • Include URLs for other web presences: Enough said. And within your comfort levels, of course. I get it; I don’t want professional acquaintances to see my Facebook page either.
  • List key personal projects: I ask this in almost every phone interview I do. “What kind of stuff are you working on in your free time?” I am always inspired by this. It also shows me that you have passion for your field beyond your nine-to-five (which, by the way, hardly even exist anymore).
  • Use color and lovely typography.

Things I wish people would stop doing

  • Using MS Word’s resume templates: Period.
  • Writing resumes in first person: Exceptions made for people who do it cleverly.
  • Allowing their resume to be a ridiculous number of pages: Unless you are a college professor with multiple published works, you do not need an 8+ page resume. That is not impressive; that is obnoxious. Condense that bad boy s’il vous plait. Also, I do not care that you worked at Burger King in 1988. I mean, good for you, but no; not relevant.
  • Mixing up first person and third person or present tense and past tense: Pick a voice, pick a tense, and then stick with it. I suggest third person and past tense.
  • Listing an objective at the top of the resume: Dude, seriously? This isn’t 1992.
  • Mailing, faxing or hand-delivering paper resumes: Immediate disqualification. Do not pass go.
  • Sending resumes addressed to the CEO end up on my desk unopened: This is a gross generalization here, and exceptions are made for smaller companies, but [generally speaking], CEOs don’t read resumes — not the first pass. Also see above re: paper resumes.
  • Exaggerating titles and responsibilities: Eventually the truth comes out.

Source: http://mashable.com/2014/10/20/resume-first-glance/?utm_cid=mash-com-fb-main-link

    How to Match Your Qualifications to a Job Description

    resume_magnifying_glass_157307281.jpg - Copyright Pali Rao / E+ / Getty Images

    Copyright Pali Rao / E+ / Getty Images

    Employers will usually only spend a few seconds deciding if you are a good enough fit for a job to warrant a more thorough review of your resume and cover letter, so you need to make sure that it is immediately obvious that you have many of the skills, experiences and qualities that they value most highly.

    It’s also important to focus on your most relevant skills and strengths when interviewing. The closer your match to the position, the better your chances of job search success.

    Analyze the Job Listing

    Job postings are typically broken out into several sections. Expect to see information about the company, details on the desired qualifications of applicants and a description of the responsibilities involved in the role. Some are brief, others include more details about the job and the company.

    Take the time to review the job posting, so you are familiar with what the employer wants. Here’s how to decode a job advertisement, so you can decide whether to apply and start work on your resume and cover letter.

    Make a List

    If the job is a good match, the next step is to make a connection between your skills and the employer’s requirements is to create a list of the preferred qualifications for the ideal candidate for your target job.  If a job advertisement is well written and detailed, you might be able to assemble much of your list right from the ad.

    Extract any of the keywords describing skills, qualities or experiences which the employer has listed as required or preferred.

    Also review the job duties and make some assumptions about the qualifications needed to carry out those duties.

    For example, if the ad mentions that you would organize fundraising events for potential donors, you can assume that event planning skills would be highly valued and should be added to your list.

    Get More Information

    Sometimes ads for jobs are very short and don’t reveal much about the employer’s expectations.  Try looking on the company’s website, since there might be a longer description in the human resources section of their site than in the ad you saw.

    Another strategy is to search job sites like Indeed.com and SimplyHired.com by the same job title to get a sense of what other employers are looking for in candidates.  Also search Google to see descriptions of similar jobs.  For example, if you are applying for a credit analyst position, try searching by the phrase “credit analyst job description.” Here’s how to use Advanced Search Options to find job information.

    Need Skills to Include?

    When you’re not sure about what skills or qualities to include, check this list of skills for resumes, cover letters and interviews. It includes lists of general skills most wanted by employers, plus skills for a variety of occupations. Include the most relevant skills in your resume and cover letter.

    Ask for Advice

    If you are really motivated to land a particular job, interview professionals in the field and ask them what it takes to excel in their job.  Reach out to college alumni through your college’s career and/or alumni office, LinkedIn contacts, and family friends to generate a list of contacts for these consultations.

    Make a Match

    Once you have assembled a detailed list of the qualifications for your target job, review each item on the list and try to think of how you might prove that you possess that asset. Write a sentence about as many of the qualifications as possible detailing how you used that skill or exhibited that quality in a work, volunteer, academic or co-curricular role.

    Whenever possible, point to any positive results or recognition you received while applying the skill.  For example, if a job requires strong writing skills, you might say “While working as a campaign intern, I wrote press releases about the candidate’s platform which resulted in two articles in the local media”.

    Prioritize Your Qualifications

    Prioritize the sentences about your qualifications and incorporate the hardest hitting statements into your cover letter.  Compose a thesis statement for the beginning of yourcover letter which references 2 – 4 assets which make you an excellent fit for the job.

    For example, for a bank teller job, you might say “my strong mathematics skills, customer service orientation, attentiveness to detail and ability to work with precision make this job an excellent fit for me”. In subsequent paragraphs, you should provide proof of how and where you applied those skills.

    Review Your Resume

    Review your existing resume and make sure that you have incorporated as many statements about the preferred qualifications for the job as possible. List the highest priority phrases at the beginning of your descriptions to get the most attention.

    If you have a couple of jobs which are more qualifying than others, you might develop a lead category towards the top of your resume like “Related Experience” (if they are not your most recent jobs).

    Include Headlines

    Some candidates will have clusters of experiences which correspond to key qualifications.  Take the example where writing and event planning are highly qualifying for a particular job.

    If a candidate has experiences which fit those categories, then they might have headings like “Writing Experience” and “Event Planning Experience” and place the related experiences in those sections of the resume. Relevant headings will draw the employer’s attention to key qualifications at a glance.

    During the Interview

    Prior to interviewing, review the list of qualifications you created when working on your job application. Be prepared to discuss the specific skills and assets you have during job interviews. You can also reiterate what qualifies you to be selected in your job interview thank you notes.

    Source: http://jobsearch.about.com/od/how-to-apply/fl/match-qualifications-to-job.htm