Yet another resume submitted by another early careerist – and another rejection followed by another disappointment.
And despite what you might think – that this was all cause because of typos or resume formatting issues, a lack of internships or a poor GPA – that rejection was caused by something far more important…
That resume didn’t stand out from any of the others. There was no clear reason to continue reading, let alone call the applicant in for an interview.
What many applicants have yet grasped is that employers are looking for certain characteristics above all else; aspects of your work life that make you stand out above all your competitors. And trust me when I say that those traits have nothing to do with being “detail-oriented”, a “hard worker” or a “team player” – or any other cliché now included on almost every resume.
To get noticed by a recruiter today, you must show – in just one page (okay, maybe two pages if you’ve worked hard!):
Your perceived potential
Your ability to fit in with the existing team
Your ability to impact the bottom line of the organization
The best way to do that? Include these seven power words, phrases (and, yes, even symbols and numbers):
Employers are now doing more with less: less investment, less management and fewer employees. To be considered a strong candidate, you must show that you work well with the existing team while creating solutions with the resources available.
Be sure to include: An example where you brought a team together, or where you and your team worked together to exceed expectations.
A big part of collaboration is knowing when it is time to step up and lead. Why? Because recruiters recognize many other admirable (and hireable) traits in leaders: effective listening, decision-making, confidence, ability to motivate others toward a common goal, etc.
Be sure to include: A time when your leadership made a significant impact; show where the problem started and the end result as driven by your efforts.
Written and Oral Communication
Communication skills remain the Number 1 in-demand skill by employers – and quite often, the Number 1 source of disappointment. The applicant who demonstrates effective (and confident) writing, effective meeting management and confident public speaking will rise above the competition.
Be sure to include: An editor! Your chance to prove your communication skills are well above average disappears about two seconds after a recruiter sees a typo in your cover letter, resume or LinkedIn profile.
From your first job to your first corner office with a view, the proven capacity to take on a challenge, assess the alternatives and create a solution is in high-demand by employers. In today’s job market, show you welcome this challenge… and you’re on your way to an interview.
Be sure to include: A challenge you faced, the solution incorporated and the impact of your problem-solving ability.
In many aspects of our professional lives, we simply can’t rely on our education or experience to help us through a tough situation; we need to quickly learn what we don’t know. The ability to self-learn – through Google, forums, helpdesks, Q & A sites, MOOCs, etc. – is a huge asset to a prospective employer.
Be sure to include: In your “Summary of Skills” demonstrate your willingness to self-learn in order to problem solve and collaborate more effectively. In the “Knowledge and Achievements” section of your resume, list the relevant courses, credentials and informal learning you’ve taken on outside higher education and mandatory training.
Numbers, ‘%’ and ‘$’
Throughout this post, we’ve talked about showing impact and the end results of your actions and leadership. There is simply no better way to do that than to quantify using percentages and dollar signs. This is what employers understand; this is how they – in less than a second – assess your contributions.
Be sure to include: Concise statements that replace clichés like “proven sales professional” with quantified statements like “Increased sales by $300,000 in my region” and “Exceeded quota by 152% over 5 years.”
Every Acronym and Keyword Relevant to Your Industry
Especially in a larger company: before your resume is ever seen by a recruiter, you must get past the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) – a program used by recruiters to filter out resumes that don’t meet minimum qualifications. The primary tool used: keyword and acronym searches. If your resume lacks the specified keywords and acronyms, the assumption is that you don’t yet have a clear grasp of the job or industry – and your resume will not pass the ATS test.
Be sure to include: In full sentences, insert the relevant buzzwords, keywords and acronyms from the job description and from within your industry – including the software used and the regulations the company must abide by.
Avoid resume rejection. Don’t include the same old clichés, passive words like “assisted” and empty words like “dynamic” and “successfully”.
Instead, show off your potential. Prove you’re a good fit. Demonstrate your impact. All it takes, is to use these power words on the next version of your resume.