Have you ever wondered why so many people dread the resume-writing process? On the surface, the answer seems obvious: many job-seekers struggle to figure out how to showcase their value as an employee. After all, how are they supposed to know what hiring managers and recruiters are looking for in a resume? Most assume that they can never know for sure what an employer wants to see, so they just focus on the facts and never bother to try to craft a compelling narrative.
The good news is that you don’t have to wonder what managers and recruiters are looking for in a resume, because we have the answers you need. Whether you’re looking for a new job, changing careers, or thinking about making a change later this year, here are some of the key things you should be focusing on in your resume:
If you’ve been relying on an objective statement as your resume lead-in, it’s time for a change. The traditional objective statement focuses on your career goals, and today’s companies are just not that interested. Instead, hiring managers and recruiters want to know how you can add value to an employer’s company. The summary statement is the best way to quickly highlight that value and capture any decision maker’s attention.
Your summary statement needs to be brief, but powerful and should showcase who you are and what you bring to the table as an employee. Think of it as an elevator pitch. It won’t ensure that you get an interview, but it should inspire the reader to peruse the rest of the resume. For example, if you were applying for a job as a sales manager, your summary might look something like this:
Seasoned sales strategist and manager with extensive marketing experience. More than ten years working with clients across a broad spectrum of industries, developing results-driven, revenue-enhancing sales channels and campaigns. Creative team player focused on innovative solutions to achieve short and long-term client goals, with an emphasis on leveraging data and digital tools while empowering human resources.
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Hiring managers and recruiters will also be looking for relevant skills. If your resume doesn’t feature the skills their companies need, then chances are it will be passed over for those that do. Of course, that means that you cannot simply use the same resume over and over without modification. You should tailor your base resume to meet each job’s needs. That includes emphasizing relevant skills while omitting information that has no relevance to the job at hand.
Thankfully, the job descriptions should provide fodder for this process. Simply scan through the description and highlight every skill and qualification mentioned in the post. Those will be the skills you need to showcase in your resume if you want to be considered for the position. Be sure to list your most important skills at the beginning. Those tangible hard skills will be critical to convincing hiring managers and recruiters that you have the qualifications they need. Then add any soft skills that the job description demands. If none are needed, valuable soft skills can be added anyway, or placed in a separate section titled “Additional Skills.”
While you’re focused on the skills listed in the job description, you should also remember that the terms used to describe those qualifications are also the same terms that any applicant tracking system (ATS) will use when it reviews your resume. In other words, those are keywords or phrases that software looks for to screen resumes for additional review. Make sure that you include those keywords in your resume to maximize your chances of having the resume accepted by the machines.
To separate yourself from your competition, you need to demonstrate real achievements – things you have accomplished for prior employers. That’s the best way to demonstrate your potential value to hiring managers and recruiters. You can do that by highlighting accomplishments and using quantifiable metrics that explain how your success translated into greater profitability, customer growth, or efficiencies in those companies. Use real numbers wherever possible.
Finally, don’t forget to include educational and certification information. This is especially important when the job description lists these requirements but can be vital for demonstrating your qualifications in almost any position. You don’t have to list every course you took, of course, but you should showcase the classes, degrees, and certificates that prove that you have the education needed to perform the job duties.
With the right strategy, your resume-writing process can produce the superior results you need. Just remember to focus on value, just as you would if you were selling a product or service and consider what those hiring managers and recruiters need to see to recognize your potential as a productive employee. When you do that, you can create a more compelling resume that’s sure to increase your chances for job search success.
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