How To Optimize Your Resume And Boost Your Chances
First impressions matter. Your resume is your first impression. Ever thought of what impression your resume could be making? Resume optimizing ensures you put your best foot forward.
At my new job, I interact with many clients who are seeking for a change of role or trying to discover new career opportunities. Almost always, they opt for the resume + LinkedIn profile optimizing service that we provide. And almost always, I'm surprised to see the quality of their resumes.
I guess I can't blame them. It's what our education teaches us. As a CBSE student, I recall being taught how to write a resume in 10th and 12th standard. Thankfully I had come to understand that it wasn't the ideal format.
In this article, I'll be sharing some observations and guidelines that we use at nkoach LLP. I hope that these tips will help you to optimize your resume and improve your chances of getting noticed by recruiters.
Formatting is important
Most recruiters / companies use various softwares to go through the hundreds of CVs they receive. The software scans through the document and allows them to shortlist suitable profiles quickly Therefore, format may not be very important at this initial stage. However, if you are applying in a company where resumes are checked manually OR if you have progressed onto the interview stage, you need to ensure that the resume you submit looks appealing.
My top tip: Use bold and underline options for the headings (e.g. Educational Qualification, Work Experience, Names of Previous Companies) and list each of your achievements / roles and responsibilities under a job as a bullet point. This will make your resume easy to scan through for your recruiter / interviewer.
Make your resume dynamic
What I mean by this is to tweak your resume for every role that you apply for. Highlight the skills and achievements that are most relevant for the job. For e.g. if you are a salesperson who wants to transition into a training role, highlight responsibilities where you conducted training for peers, or your certifications in training & facilitation. However, if you are wish to continue in a sales role, you can highlight your excellent target achievement track record instead.
My top tip: If you are open to a change in roles and applying for such opportunities, I would suggest you create basic version for each role and then customize it accordingly for every role you apply for. For e.g. if you are a sales person who is open to training roles, marketing roles, and sales roles, create 3 versions of your CV, each highlighting the different skill sets required. Tweak the appropriate version accordingly. It'll save time.
You may be a great candidate for the job, but recruiter bias could prevent you for being shortlisted on account of being considered too young or too old. Unless it's a job which has a minimum and/or maximum age limit, I don't think it's wise to put your age (or date of birth) on the resume. Instead, let your experience and skills speak for your ability.
My top tip: Unless you've graduated recently (within the last 5 years or so), don't include your year of graduation in your resume. Leave it out. It's better than making up fake details. Most organizations do background checks and if they notice any discrepancies during verification, it will not bode well for your candidature.
JDs are very useful
Remember what I said earlier about customizing your resume for each job? This is where a JD or job description comes into the picture. Look out for specific keywords in the JD which you can incorporate into your resume. The JD is used by recruiters / software to check against your resume and determine the suitability of your candidature. The more the number of keywords in your resume that match with the JD, the higher the chances of you being shortlisted.
My top tip: In case you weren't provided a JD or can't identify the keywords, search for profiles of people who are currently in the role that you are applying for. This can help you to find suitable keywords to incorporate in your resume. Likewise, informational interviews can prove to be beneficial as well.
It's best to not include references
We always think it's best to not include references. Most companies, if they require references at the initial stage, will ask you to include it . Otherwise, it's better to leave out the references from your resume. Include references from your workplace rather than your college/university. If you are a recent graduate, try to get a reference from the place where you worked part-time / as an intern.
My top tip: It goes without saying that you should inform these people before submitting their names as your references. Try to give them a sense of the job and the entailing roles / responsibilities so that they can tailor their answers accordingly when the organization calls them.
Quantify your achievements
Nobody will value your achievements unless you can quantify it. Show how you contributed to the bottom line. Saying "Implemented a solution which reduced cycle-time by 15%" is more impressive than saying "Implemented solution to improve cycle-time". Likewise, "Managed team of XX people across XX geographies for ABC Project" is a better way to highlight your people management skills than writing "Was team lead for ABC project".
My top tip: I find the STARS technique as a useful checklist for both resume writing and answering questions during interviews. STARS stands for Situation, Task, Action, Results and Skills.
Before I end, I would like to share some more things to keep in mind:
Use a professional email ID on your resume. (Using the one your current organization provided you with is not advisable)
Check for grammar and spelling errors before hitting send.
If discrepancies arise during a background check, you could not only lose your credibility and the opportunity, but could also lose your current job and might even get jailed.
Don't use fancy fonts.
Make sure the information you provide (email ID, phone number, and even certifications) are all correct and up-to-date.
To conclude I would just like to say : Your resume is your first impression. Make sure it's a good and lasting one.
Visit the nkoach LLP Resume + LinkedIn Optimizing Services Page to learn more about resume optimization and avail your FREE resume health report.