A major mistake I see from early career candidates is not tailoring their resume for each role to which they apply. It only takes fifteen to thirty minutes, max, to do so and it can pay significant dividends. This might mean adding or replacing certain keywords, or even tweaking the description of certain roles and responsibilities to better match the posting.
Here are three considerations that can help you make your resume stand out from the crowd:
- Don’t assume a human is reading it during the first round of review. It might be an applicant tracking system (ATS) which is basically software that can sort through thousands of resumes in minutes. For this reason, tailoring your resume to each specific role you are applying to is vital, because ATS systems look for keywords. So, if your resume is not keyword specific, you’ll get passed by quickly during this initial review.
- Make sure your resume is an appropriate length. There is such a thing as a resume that is too short and a resume that is too long. One page is relatively standard, but if you’ve had more extensive experiences that apply to the role to which you are applying, going slightly over one page might be acceptable. The key here is that the overage is highly applicable to the role and its responsibilities. Your study abroad in Rome might not be something an employer cares about for an entry-level programmer role.
- It needs to be clear, concise, and easy to read. So, this one might sound like a “duh” tip but what you think might be easy to read might not be what an experienced HR professional deems easy to read. Choose a format that is easy on the eyes, and unless you are in a highly creative field, steer clear of any formatting or design elements that are too out of the ordinary. There’s a big difference between being noticed for your resume and because noticed because of your resume. You need to play to the broadest variety of reader, which means your safest bet is to err on the side of something more conservative, so no bright colors, graphics, or even images at all unless required by the employer (sometimes required outside of the US).
Have some resume specific questions, or want to know how these tips translate to a resume you might use to apply to college or grad school? Want your resume reviewed by an expert? Ask us a question or email us about our resume review services.
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