Resumes serve as the cornerstone of any job application, yet not all are created equal. While most people have a resume, it can take work to transform it into a compelling narrative that stands out to employers. Think of your resume as a dynamic extension of yourself – a powerful tool that communicates your unique blend of experience, education, skills, and background.
An effective resume should be catered to the job you are applying to whenever possible. According to Fawn Fisher, an Employment Counselor for the Westchester-Putnam Career Center Network, resumes can also be crafted for a specific industry or sector. For example, if you are applying for a job in direct patient care, you would want to incorporate skills like patient assessment, safety procedures, compassion, empathy, and teamwork. You should include any relevant information and experience related to the job and industry to which you are applying.
When you start working on your resume for a specific job, take a look at the position description. Using keywords from the job description in your resume can help your chances of moving through the applicant tracking systems.
“Artificial intelligence applicant tracking systems are increasingly being used to screen resumes for matching keywords from the job description,” Fisher says. “If enough keywords aren’t matched, the resume won’t make it to a hiring manager.”
As more employers use artificial intelligence to screen resumes, Fishers says it’s critical to keep your information simple and effective. While using keywords throughout the resume will help push you ahead, it’s also important to use common fonts and terms that the AI system will understand. Using fonts such as Times New Roman and Arial are safe choices, according to Fisher. She also advises keeping out special characters and lines in the document because they confuse the AI system. Additionally, it’s best to keep dates to the right side of the page and save your resume as a Word document.
View this post on Instagram
When working on the different sections of a resume, remember to keep the job you are applying to in mind. Each section of the resume is important to employers for different reasons says Shandal Mitchel, an Employment Counselor for the Westchester-Putnam Career Center Network. Mitchel finds that work experience is the most critical section of the resume because employers want to make sure you have done relevant or similar work in the past. Education is also important to mention, especially if the degree or coursework relates to the work you hope to do.
When working on the skills section of the resume, there are some talents that employers generally like to see and others that are industry-specific. Most employers across every industry look for computer skills, communication skills, problem-solving skills, and time management. Being bilingual is also another skill that should be highlighted if applicable. Mitchel says to list any skills you may have related to your specific industry because many employers are “willing to train employees whose skill set is compatible for the job.”
If your resume has room for an additional section and you have volunteer experience, it is useful to add it. According to Mitchel, volunteer work should only be included if it’s relevant to the job to which you are applying. Additionally, it can be used to make up for any gaps in employment. In some volunteer positions, certificates or awards are granted based on performance. Highlighting successes and experiences outside of work is a great way to set yourself apart and show your eagerness to work.
After creating and filling in all the sections of your resume, the most important step is proofreading. Having a mistake in your resume could be the difference between getting hired or being rejected by an employer. A clean, concise, and well-written resume shows employers that you are detail-oriented and care about the work you produce. Getting someone else to proofread your resume before applying is also effective. An extra pair of eyes can help catch spelling mistakes or small errors that you missed.
After editing the resume, you should include a cover letter or letter of interest when sending the application directly to the hiring manager. A cover letter will allow you to expand on the experience and skills listed on your resume and show more of your personality. Remember that the resume is the first piece of you that an employer will see. Although tailoring a resume for every job can be time-consuming, it may ultimately be the key to securing your desired position. Next time you sit down to craft a new resume, remember these employment counselors’ tips and see if you land that dream job.