If you’re bored by your own resume and cover letter, imagine how horrible it is for Harriet in HR at We’re A Fun Company Inc., who has the pleasure of reading through yours… and 400 others just like yours… daily.
Spewing over-used lines about being “great at multi-tasking”, “a quick learner”, “self-motivated” and “flexible in the face of change”, sadly, means nothing anymore. Even having a nice looking resume and a well-written cover letter is hardly enough to make Harriet raise an eyebrow – or think twice about your candidacy.
So, what can you do to present a resume that conveys how interested you are… without going over the top? Check out these steps to create a resume that might finally get you a call back.
Step 1: Target Resume to Company or Industry
If you are truly interested in a particular position, don’t just send your standard (read: “generic”) resume. Spend time learning about the company, and then create a custom resume for that particular position. First, diligently research the available position and its expectations. Then research the company as a whole – and I mean much more than memorizing the mission statement. Learn about the company’s history and background. Which department would your position fall under? What are their main products? What is their major competition? How is the industry performing?
This extra effort likely won’t be matched by much of your competition, so this could make the difference between getting overlooked – and getting an interview.
Step 2: Clever Wording
Resume format is typically championed as the best way to make your resume stand out. Often though, resumes are stripped down and compiled using an electronic filter (called Automatic Tracking Systems, or ATS) before a human sees them. All the hard work you put into designing a resume that reads itself out loud, or putting your animated head shot in the upper left hand corner, is wasted. While a nice presentation is a definite perk, the meat of your resume – the wording – needs to be strong enough to stand on its own.
Describe your skills creatively by going beyond the standard resume phrases like “detail oriented”. Instead of merely saying, “I’m great at multi-tasking”, show how you recently held three simultaneous conversations on three different platforms while planning a meeting with friends on Facebook and cooking a spaghetti dinner. A real-life example is far more memorable than an over-used, hyphenated cliché.
Step 3: Mechanics
Depending on where you’re applying, incorporating a tech savvy feature could be a difference maker. Using QR codes, interactive resumes or incorporating external sources can be great for creative positions like design, animating or social media marketing, but not for all.
If you’re in doubt, however, about how this will be perceived by the intended audience, err on the side of being conservative.
Step 4: Finishing Touches
Before you send, make absolutely sure that everything on your resume is perfect: wording, grammar, accurate information and technology. If you’re applying online, double check what you’ve uploaded to make sure it works properly. And, while paper resumes are going by the wayside in favor of electronic copies, consider having a hard copy of your resume delivered, especially if the company doesn’t specify. Use ground shipping to have a resume sent, or drop it off yourself – a rare move that might help you stand out!
Building a resume with these tips in mind might just make Harriet in HR focus in on you… (before she starts looking at those 399 other resumes)
Have fun with your resume – be unique – and get noticed!
About the Author: Ashley Spade, in addition to being a social media ninja and alumna of several successful internships, is a law student in the Windy City. She lives, plays, and studies in Chicago with her ever-faithful sidekick, Sir Winston Pugsalot the First. Follow their adventures on Twitter or via ProfessionalIntern.com.
Photo credit: Youthempowermentsolutions.org