The Definitive Guide to Having Your Resume Taken Seriously is about moving your resume to the “Yes” pile, every time a hiring manager or recruiter looks at it for a particular position.
We want to use your resume to show recruiters and hiring managers how strong of a match you are for the position that you are applying for.
This means that you must customize your resume and cover letter for each job posting.
Unless you are applying for roles that all have the exact same qualifications (and you’re probably not!), it’s essential that you tailor your experience to the needs of the job posting.
Job postings are important.
Your potential employer is literally telling you what’s important to them.
Use the job posting as a guide – or ignore it at your own peril!
This is why I don’t like giving feedback on resumes without looking at a particular job posting and why I request that all of my clients submit potential job postings when we work together.
Honestly, I can’t tell if someone will be a competitive candidate for a particular job if I don’t have a job posting to consider as well.
Let’s talk about how to make your resume stand out in the best possible way – and don’t forget to grab the Definitive Resume Worksheet below so that you can easily implement these ideas!
The Truth About Typos and The Worst Mistake To Make
You should definitely proofread your resume and cover letter and you should have a second set of eyes review them as well.
I also recommend reading your cover letter out loud. This can really help you catch any awkward or incomplete sentences.
But the truth is, I have actually seen candidates move through the next phase of the search with typos.
Typos alone are often not deal-breakers for candidates that appear to be well qualified.
But some mistakes are worse than others.
Like addressing your resume and cover letter to the wrong institution.
If you think that you would never make this kind of mistake, think again.
This is the error that I have seen more frequently than anything else.
There are a couple of reasons this one will get kicked out of the pack early.
First, obviously, you’ll appear as disorganized and careless.
In today’s crowded job market, it is truly too much to expect that the hiring manager or search committee members will forgive this seemingly small mistake to actually review your qualifications.
Secondly, when you write a cover letter, and you talk about how excited you are to work at X Organization when you’ve actually submitted this application to Y Organization, your enthusiasm will feel insincere.
To avoid this mistake, take great care to organize your resume and related files very clearly.
I do recommend that people use templates, but be sure to customize everything and save the documents in separate folders so that you can easily cross check your work.
(Don’t have time to read this whole post? Check out the video summary above and and click here to get your free resume Cheat Sheet.)
Does the job require 2–3 writing samples? That’s how many you should submit.
Submitting five doesn’t make you look like an overachiever.
It makes you look like you’re not following directions.
Or worse, that you think the directions don’t apply to you.
People place a limit on writing samples, etc. so that they can get a sense of your work and to help ensure that the people doing the hiring have the actual bandwidth to sort through the submissions of each applicant.
Some jobs will have special and/or specific instructions.
If you want those jobs, you should follow the directions.
If you really want to show the hiring manager *all* that you’ve got, you may provide a link on your resume to your full portfolio or your LinkedIn page.
Edit, edit, edit.
One thing that I see a lot, especially with young professionals and recent graduates, is this idea that everything needs to go on your resume.
High school awards.
Your first internship.
I don’t want you to just think of your resume as a list of all your professional experience.
Remember, your resume is a tool to display your most relevant experience for a particular opportunity.
Consider listing your most relevant positions and your most relevant skills first.
In other words, use your resume strategically.
It’s really obvious when a candidate has read the job posting carefully and created a cover letter and resume that addresses the needs of the position.
And it’s obvious when they don’t.
Take a good look at the job listing.
What are they really looking for?
How does your experience fit their needs?
Tailor your resume and cover letter to address that.
Create a resume and cover letter that speaks to your ability to meet or exceed the needs of the hiring manager and you’ll land at the top of pile of applicants that they want to learn more about.
It sounds like a lot of work and, I’m not going to lie, it can be – especially in the early stages of a job search.
Once you get used to creating resumes and cover letters that address the qualifications and job descriptions for each position, your applications will improve dramatically.
(Honestly, your job search will improve dramatically.)
Make it easy
Take a look at the qualifications for the job and the job description to determine what is really important about that job.
I like to select 3–5 bullet points from my own professional experience that match up with qualifications and/or description from the job posting and highlight them right at the top of my resume (underneath the header!).
I call this “Summary of Qualifications.”
Instead of sifting through my resume for what they’re looking for, I show the hiring manager right away that I have what they are looking for.
As a bonus, using the SOQ seems to help clients see how qualified they are for these roles and they start approaching their job search with much more confidence.
Try it and see for yourself!
Say why you want the job, especially if it’s not obvious.
If you’re making a big career transition or if you’re applying for jobs on the other side of the country, your cover letter is a great place to share a little bit about that.
It doesn’t have to be all of the details, but a little context can be helpful.
“After x years in the corporate world, I am ready to use my a, b, c skills in the non-profit world.”
“Though I currently work and live in Boston, I am planning to re-locate to Miami in the fall.”
Nothing too personal or dramatic.
Remember, your job is to make your fit easy and obvious to them.
Make it easy for the reader to understand your story.
Focus on each position like it’s the only one that you’re applying for.
Set yourself up so that you have 2 or three resume templates that are partially ready for jobs.
Make it clear why you’re applying and how you’re a good fit.
And remember, it’s not about you! It’s about the value you’ll bring given the needs of the position.
Don’t forget to grab my free worksheet below!