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3 Ways to Make Your Resume Better

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Just a few short years ago, the focus of job search advice was creating a tip-top resume that would open the door to opportunity.

In today’s job market, people are getting hired in unconventional ways, such as showcasing work through social media (like this barber who got a job through Instagram) or networking a direct path to decision makers on LinkedIn.

Even with many new ways of searching for a job, a well-crafted resume can still be effective for getting over the first hurdle of the hiring process.

There are three things to keep in mind when crafting a resume in today’s job market:

1. Results, not objectives

The average reader spends 5-9 seconds skimming a resume.

In these fleeting seconds, they want to see that you have the exact experience to solve the kinds of business problems they are hiring for.

For this reason, you need to update the format of your resume.

Old advice: Write your employment objective at the top of your resume

Example:

“Objective: Obtain a position that would allow me to demonstrate my excellent project management, team and technology skills.”

New advice: Write a hard-hitting skill summary at the top of your resume

Example:

Summary: Experienced project and team leader with demonstrated results such as:

  • Installed a new labor scheduling system, yielding $5 million of annual benefit
  • Coordinated a global team across 15 countries, reduced attrition rate from 20% to 5% over 12 months

When you begin your resume with results, you answer the main question in the hiring manager’s head: Can this person solve my problems on day one?

2. Find the threads in your work story

Our career paths are no longer linear. Due to increased layoffs, market shifts and new opportunities created by technology, more and more people experience a number of different work modes in the course of their career.

You can’t expect the hiring manager to understand how ten years as a marketing manager at IBM, followed by a two years as a stay-at-home dad, followed by three years as a coffee entrepreneur make you the perfect person to head up their business development team.

You need to narrate your own story, and show the threads that weave through your different work activities. Then tie these threads to the critical skills and experience required for the job.

To find these threads, look at all the work you have done over the course of your life and see if you notice overarching themes. You might find themes like “pursuit of excellence,” “revenue generation” or “customer service.”

Use these themes when you summarize your experience in your cover letter, as well as the description of each job on your resume.

3. Internal referrals, not resume factories

You are much more likely to get noticed if your resume comes through an internal referral, instead of submitting it through a large, anonymous job site.

Using your own network combined with research on LinkedIn, see if you have a contact inside the company who would be willing to put in a good word for you, and forward your resume to the hiring manager.

Many companies have learned that the best job candidates come from valued employees.

Resumes are not dead, but they are now one small part of a networked, social environment where information is readily available about you on Google.

Shape your own story, and you are much more likely to get hired.

(Image via iluistrator/Shutterstock.com)

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