Last month we took a look at different ways to go about finding your dream job (click here to read that post). What do you do once you find that dream job though? Well, you submit your resume of course.
It sounds simple enough but too often, wonderfully qualified candidates never make it to the interview stage of the hiring process because their resume failed to grab the attention of or impress the hiring manager.
So many people focus a lot of time and energy on learning to polish their interview skills, and while that is important, those interview skills will never be needed if their resume doesn’t first land them the coveted interview. Make sure that your career aspirations don’t get the kiss of death before you even get out of the gate, by incorporating these easy tweaks as you update your resume for your next position.
8 Easy Resume Tweaks to Help Land You the Interview
1.) Add a middle initial. Can something as simple as adding your middle initial on your resume really make a difference? YES! A new study in the European Journal of Psychology reveals that hiring managers tend to consider those who include a middle initial on their resume (for example, Melissa S. Venable instead of Melissa Venable) to be smarter and more competent–without ever even looking at any other information on the resume. This assumption happens because people are used to seeing middle initials only in formal contexts such as diplomas, contracts etc. therefore, we automatically associate middle initials with higher intellectual abilities. Put this information to work for you and add your middle initial to your resume TODAY.
2.) Activate your resume. Actions words are one of the most effective keys to building an impressive resume. Think about the impact that you had on your last job. Did you lead a team, collaborate with department heads or negotiate an important acquisition? These are all strong action verbs that gain favorable attention from managers.
3.) Make it easy for hiring managers to find what they’re looking for. Research shows that most managers review a resume for fewer than eight seconds–yes, EIGHT SECONDS–before making a decision as to whether or not to discard it. Another astonishing fact is that most managers spend 80% of that eight seconds looking for just five items: your name (include that middle initial!), your most recent title and company, your previous title and company, employment dates and education. With this being the case. it is imperative that you make these pieces of information easy to find. You can do this by bolding the type, using bullet points and making sure that there is no clutter around them.
4.) Send a letter–certified. Even in today’s high tech society, a lot can be said for good ol’ snail mail. According to job expert Skip Freeman. you can double your chances of snagging a great job by sending a good, old fashioned letter. Freeman says “in addition to e-mailing your resume, you should also send a certified letter to the hiring manager because 90% of certified mail gets opened by the person it’s addressed to instead of an assistant.” This trick will help increase the odds of your resume landing in the hiring manager’s hands. Also–regardless of whether you are delivering your resume by mail or email, you’ll want to make sure that you include a quality cover letter. A cover letter’s sole purpose is to get you an interview but before it can do that, it must first get noticed. Some tips to help your cover letter stand out include 1.) Addressing your letter to the decision maker by name rather than “to whom it may concern” 2.) Starting you letter off in a unique way, for example: “inspired by the excellent reputation of (name of company), I am submitting my application for the position of (job title). This will make your letter stand out from all of the others that follow an outdated and boring format 3.) Keeping it brief. You only need a few sentences stating why you’re writing and requesting a meeting and a short paragraph explaining why you are a good fit for the position. Semantics are important here because requesting a meeting sounds more compelling and down-to-business than requesting an interview.
5.) Use the right font. Obviously you’re not going to use Comic Sans as your resume font (unless you’re applying to be a clown? Nah–don’t even use it then.) But do you know what font hiring managers prefer? It’s Helvetica. That’s according to a recent Bloomberg Business survey, which found that the simple, easy to read font helps to increase the odds of a headhunter or hiring manager spending more time looking at your credentials.
6.) Include ad keywords–but not entire blocks of text. You’ve no doubt heard that it is smart to include in your resume words that describe the position straight from the job listing. That’s because many companies (especially larger organizations) use computer programs to search for these “keywords” as a way of filtering resume submissions. That said, you should avoid copying and pasting large chunks of text from the ad into your resume. In fact, a recent survey showed that 41% of recruiters said that they would dismiss even a well qualified candidate for this very practice. Instead, stick to short key phrases from the ad. A few other VIP phrases to include are “Proven track record” and “continually exceeds goals and expectations.”
7.) Tailor your resume to the desired position. Avoid the xerox effect! Do not send out the same copy of your resume for all of your applications. Instead, follow the above advice by using keywords for each position listing and make sure that your resume highlights the particular skills that each position is looking for.
8.) Let your personality shine. Naturally you’ve listed your work experience and skill sets in your resume, but what about personality traits? Do you work well under pressure? Have a positive attitude? Maintain flexibility while juggling multiple projects? If so–make sure those things are mentioned in your resume as well. A recent study shows that a whopping 77% of hiring managers want to see evidence of these kinds of “soft skills” when screening for candidates.
While nothing can guarantee you an interview offer, having an accurate and impressive resume is certainly the most important and necessary first component when hunting for a job. By incorporating these eight simple tweaks into your resume, you’ll increase your chances at landing the interview (stay tuned next month for FabYOUlous interview strategies) and ultimately landing the job of your dreams.