The job market is very competitive; the average hiring manager will receive approximately 250 resumes for every job ad they post online, with some very sought-after positions receiving many more responses than that. Being the perfect candidate isn’t enough when you’re initially applying for the job, because you need to get noticed first. The goal is to get called in for an interview, and if you have a lacking resume, you’ll never be given the chance to show what you have to offer. Whether you’re creating a resume for the first time or your current resume needs some updating, remember to:
Include specific keywords
Because hiring managers will get so many responses for a single job posting, they have to do what they can to save time by weeding out resumes from applicants who likely aren’t the most qualified for the position. As such, many companies now use software to automatically scan resumes for specific phrases and keywords that they’re looking for resumes to contain; resumes that don’t contain those words or phrases are automatically deleted without ever being looked at. It can be difficult to know what specific keywords to include on your own resume, as this will often depend on the industry and type of position you’re looking to find. For example, if you’re applying for an editor position at a newspaper, one of those keywords might be “journalism” if the employer only wants to see resumes from applicants who already have experience in the field and/or have a journalism degree. Be sure to do research ahead of time and include certain keywords that you think hiring managers might be looking for in your resume, because otherwise, your resume might not ever be seen.
Focus on your best attributes
Whenever you send an employer your resume, it’s your chance to stand out in the best way possible. Some applicants make the mistake of including every job they’ve ever had on their resume, and for people that have been working for many years, this can result in a very lengthy resume. Unless you don’t have much job experience to begin with, avoid including your entire job history. Instead, focus on your best attributes: what’s the highest level of education you have? What jobs in the past are relevant to the position you’re applying for? What are some of your best accomplishments? Remember to focus only on the best and be concise.
Make sure it’s formatted properly
A resume with great content can get tossed to the side immediately if the formatting is bad. Pick a plain, simple font at a reasonable size (between sizes 10 and 14) and stick to just one or two pages—a single page is ideal. Avoid using colors, decorative fonts, and photos or backgrounds. To make things easier on the eyes, avoid using large blocks of text; stick to short and concise sentences with bullet points.
Too many applicants focus so much on making sure their resume is perfect that they overlook even the simplest mistakes. A single grammar or spelling error can be the fastest way to lose your chance at the job, so be sure to carefully proofread your resume before submitting it. Have someone else look over it as well—just in case there’s something you’re missing.
Don’t forget the cover letter
A well-written cover letter should always accompany your resume, and without including one, your resume might not even get looked at. Make sure your cover letter specifically addresses the hiring manager (if the person’s name is available) and talks about the exact position you’re applying for; avoid using the same generic cover letter for every job you apply for.
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Nothing above is meant to provide financial or tax advice. You should meet with appropriate professionals for such services.