Almost everyone knows that after all of that time you put into making your past work seem appealing to an employer, your resume warrants just 6 seconds of the recruiter’s attention.
Since their time is limited and the stack of resumes never ends, in a quick glance hiring managers look for key skills or experiences that will determine if you get put into “to interview” stack, or into the garbage.
So how do you make yourself stand out? How can you gain some insight to what an employer sees when they look at your resume?
An idea I recently came across in the Twittersphere suggests pasting your resume into a word cloud generator such as Wordle or TagCrowd. The result of the word cloud reveal what words stand out most on your resume and what a hiring manager is most likely to see. A test like this will also give you an idea of what words you are over-using.
Here’s what my original resume looked like in a word cloud:
This showed me at a glance how a hiring manager would see my resume. And to be honest, I wasn’t impressed.
I overused words like “manage”, “connections” and “strengthen”, which I know don’t help my skills and accomplishments stand out. What I learned from this test was that my resume needed major surgery.
With the expertise of a mentor, I got the help I needed to make my resume presentable. Before I felt confident enough to use the resume at a recent job fair, though, I put the resume through this test again; I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t throw myself in the garbage if I were the recruiter.
Here’s the results of the second pass:
As you can see, stronger action-words such as “social”, “communicate”, “improved” and “collaborate” are among the biggest and boldest in the image. These keywords will undoubtedly impress a recruiter far more than the over-used keywords in the first version of the resume.
Your resume should always be customized for each particular job you apply. For example, if you apply for a social media position, words like “social”, “communicate” and “collaborate” should be bigger than most in your word cloud (certainly bigger then “restaurant”). Conversely, if you apply for a job as an accountant, those words may not appeal as much to a hiring manager. Discover which keywords apply to your career choice best, and make sure they are in your resume.
I strongly encourage you to use Wordle or TagCrowd to evaluate your resume. The entire process takes just a few minutes – and the time spent may make the difference in getting an interview and your resume going in the garbage. Like me, you just may be surprised at what you find – and how much you learn.
About the Author: Mack Watts is heading into his junior year at The Ohio State University. He’s works in strategic partnerships and business development at YouTern. In his spare time, Mack is a big sports fan and enjoys frequenting the nearest Chipotle. In addition to blogging for TheSavvyIntern, Mack also manages and writes for 6 Rings. Follow Mack on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn!