Do you clean out your closet each spring? Time to apply that methodology to your resume.
Each spring, there emerges a sense of renewal and purpose – a palpable sense that change is imminent. The lengthening days may have something to do with it, or maybe it's the sweater-shedding temperatures that are responsible for stirring our spring fever. And with it comes the urge for a little spring cleaning. Cleaning up and clearing out can, however, extend to more areas of our lives than just closets.
Spring is also peak time for remodeling, renovating and re-imagining, particularly our professional selves. Follow along in the next few minutes and I'll take you along on a resume remodeling project for all the spring cleaning do-it-yourselfers in the crowd.
If you're going to unearth new, exciting career opportunities, then it's time you start spinning all of that springtime energy into resume gold. Think of your resume as a marketing tool – your sales literature, if you will. Beckoning to your "customers" (aka prospective employers) through punchy, concise summaries rather than lengthy narratives will effectively promote your strengths, skills, and potential. Our role in the job search is akin to that of a salesman, so being succinct is the way to clear the clutter and deliver a tidy message to a prospective employer.
Choose your words wisely
To make your resume sparkle, spruce up the verbiage you use when describing your accomplishments. Want an employer to perceive you as a mover and a shaker? Then scrub off of your resume any presence of "responsible for," "assisted," or "participated in" because such ambiguous vocabulary leaves the reader craving clarification. Hiding your light under a bushel by using vague language undermines your chances at shining. However, allowing an employer to visualize you as a go-getter who "facilitates," "guides," "streamlines," "implements," "acts as a liaison," "creates," and "manages" expresses energy and passion, and will open doors. Invigorate your message by being specific, detailed and informative.
Many candidates throw their hat into the ring with gusto, only to be overcome with disappointment when their three-page resume doesn't garner the attention they assumed it deserved. We all know someone who wants to add every job, every conference, every presentation, every skill, and every last thing that they have ever done. The result? An employer often equates a rambling resume with a would-be employee who doesn't know how to modify his or her message. An experienced hiring manager needs mere seconds to get the gist of any individual's background. New grads, therefore, need only a simple, one-page resume to convey highlights of education, experience, and skills. With several years of experience under your belt, up to two pages does the job. A curriculum vitae, or CV, offers research candidates and Ph.D. applicants the option of using three or more pages to convey all that is of interest to an academic search committee.
Dust off the terminology that you use in favor of a keyword-friendly resume that gets discovered among hundreds of candidate applications. Carefully reading job descriptions for similar jobs will clue you in on the skill sets that are being sought, as well as terms and insider jargon that will give you a leg up. When these same phrases are picked up on your resume by keyword software, the vast number of applicants will be whittled down, and you'll be well on your way to having an actual human being looking at your resume.
Go the extra mile
To stand out from your competition, match your resume to the requirements of the job, and then whisk your resume into the hands of the people who are making direct hiring decisions – but how? Don't be afraid to spend time finding out the name of the person who runs the show. Make a bold statement by applying directly to that person at a company for which you have envisioned yourself working, rather than just staring at endless online job boards. Wearing the confidence of a salesman (that's you!) will help you win the confidence of the client (that's an employer!) and the extra effort you put in will surely help you shine in a crowded field.
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