How To Generate More Interviews With Your Resume

It's a situation pretty much everyone finds themselves in at some point during their careers: sending your resume out to scores of recruiters and/or hiring agents... and not hearing anything back. Before you consider giving up on your ideal job, remember that the issue isn't you so much as how you're coming across on the page.

As the owner of a career development firm that works with jobseekers in this position, I know first-hand how big of an improvement a few simple changes to the resume can make. Here are 3 powerful tweaks you can execute that will immediately increase the amount of attention your resume receives.

Develop a Clear Job Target

Specificity is one of the keys to a successful search in today's job market. Instead of going the "one size fits all" route with regards to your resume, research open jobs using sites like Monster and Indeed and start developing a database of positions that interest you. While you should ideally end up with a single job target, it's perfectly fine to conduct a job search across multiple targets. Just be sure to develop a separate resume version for each.

Insert the EXACT TITLE of the position you're applying for right at the start of the resume. This will minimise the chances of your document being miscategorised or lost in digital limbo during the submission process.

Develop an opening paragraph that highlights why you'd be a great fit. Key experience at a previous job, a recently acquired degree or training certification, even soft skills such as team building/leadership or managing multiple client priorities are all examples of what might work within this section. Keep it brief, no more than 3-4 lines, and make sure it comes across as genuine.

Create a "Core Competencies" section. Look through the job postings you've gathered and make a list of skills that are frequently requested (that you actually possess). Now create a section beneath the opening paragraph that lists these skills. For example, a Marketing specialist could have terms like Marketing Plans, Corporate Branding/Rebranding, and Trend Tracking & Analysis within this section. utilise bullets to differentiate between terms and keep things tidy.

Structure Your Work History to Support Career Goals

At its core, a resume is a personal marketing document. While most jobseekers know to leave off negative information such as why they were let go at a particular job or other workplace conflicts, it's the savvy ones that understand the importance of emphasising and de-emphasizing positions within the "Professional Experience" section to support their career goals. Ask yourself the following questions to determine the optimal layout of this section:

Is the position directly relevant to the job I'm after? If so, begin the position with a few lines describing unique responsibilities, followed by a "Key Accomplishments" or similar section offering bulleted accomplishments. This approach provides the necessary context and really makes an impact visually.

Can I use the position to highlight soft skills or a unique aspect of my background? Many jobs that aren't directly related to what you're presently after can still hold value in these 2 areas. Use the same approach as above but make sure these positions take up less space within the document.

Is the position a liability? If you took on a role that was a significant step down in terms of responsibilities, salary or simply didn't work out, then it's worth considering leaving off entirely. As long as it doesn't create a major time gap within the resume, then simply skip to the next position. If it does, then briefly encapsulate the position within 1-2 lines and move on.

Eliminate Red Flags

One of the most frequent reasons resumes get rejected is due to "red flags" that pop up during the evaluation process. Here's the thing: being upfront about a potential vulnerability gives you the opportunity to control it, whereas ignoring it basically guarantees that it's going to be perceived as a negative. Here are the major causes of red flags and how you can keep them from becoming a barrier to your candidacy:

Lack of a clear link between stated career goal and work history. It's important to use the opening paragraph you developed in step #1 as a kind of running theme within your resume. Make sure that the skills and attributes mentioned here are expanded upon throughout your work history, particularly with regards to recent jobs you've held. Don't be afraid to be a little redundant if necessary. A clear link is crucial to establishing credibility during the hiring process.

Significant time gaps in your work history. While a gap of a few months between jobs won't raise any eyebrows, anything over six months needs to be addressed. Create a "Career Note" of a few lines and place it directly within your work history, between the two positions in question. Examples of information to include here can range from managing family responsibilities and fulfilling a personal life goal to taking an advanced training course or exploring new career avenues. Just make it clear that you weren't sitting around doing nothing.

Lack of necessary education and/or training. If you're currently obtaining a degree or advanced training in a particular area, don't wait until graduation to leverage it within your resume! Simply add the words "In Progress" as well as the anticipated graduation/completion date when listing it within the "Education" section and you should be good to go.

Anish Majumdar is the founder of ResumeOrbit, a firm that helps jobseekers develop new resumes and cover letters, leverage social media and capitalise on under-the-radar career opportunities. Send him a note if you're interested in learning more.


Comments

    The issue could be you. If you're not relevant for the job, or one of the best applicants, then it doesn't matter how good your resume is. The issue could simply be the market. There's a lot of competition out there. You're not necessarily (the most) suitable for the job just because you think you are. In fact the odds are heavily stacked against you.

    Yes, applicants should prepare as good a resume as they can, but the success of your application will not be determined by the strength of your resume alone. Let's be realistic.

    At its core, a resume is not only a personal marketing documentation, but what is supposed to be a factual representation of your work history, education and training. Let's not forget that.

    I generally agree with most of the advice in this article, but I do feel that applicants really ought to be honest within their resume and about all things pertaining their application.

    Yes, it could be argued to not list such and such a job because they caught you with your hands in the till, but if you were to be honest about your background you would need to list the details. There is a balance to be achieved but openly advising people to omit relevant details is arguably irresponsible.

    Also, sure you're entitled to apply for different types of jobs, that's your prerogative. But generally speaking you should have made a decision of what type of job you're looking for and should only apply for those roles that fit in with your criteria. Applying for jobs that are outside of what you're mostly focusing on can largely be a waste of time. For you and the employer.

    If you don't know what you're looking for, then take a step back and give it some serious consideration - if you don't there's a strong chance that you won't really be happy with your career decisions over the long-term.

    My primary advice would be:- Be honest, be responsible, be realistic, be patient, be yourself.

    Last edited 05/12/12 3:11 pm

      You missed the point entirely Dave. The article provides tips on how to get selected for the all-important second step - the interview, not necessarily the job. Clearly "comprehension" wouldn't be in your Core Competencies list.

        'Hmmm. I don't see how i've missed the point entirely, however I will admit to a lack of comprehension of your comment "The article provides tips on how to get selected for the all-important second step - the interview, not necessarily the job." - Don't you think that most applicants that attempt to secure an interview will be wanting to also secure the job?

        If you are confident that I have not comprehended something correctly could you be a little bit more specific, as I can't see it myself. That being the case I'm suspecting that you're perhaps being a little bitchy for the sake of it.

    I have checked Resume Orbit's webpage and submitted my resume to be assessed by them. Will see how effective it would be. It was free though. I am not sure if they demand any money later on to give extensive help or that sort of thing. And also not sure how long will it take them to come back to me. I'll try to remember to come back and updating this post

    why is it such a bad thing to have a 6 month period of 'sitting around doing nothing'?

    i recently got let go, with a rather large compensation (large for me). and i fully intend to sit around and do nothing useful for a while. are potential future employers really going to look down on a gap so badly?

      Yes, good point. It's not necessarily an issue. Why should a potential employer be overly concerned about an applicant taking a career break? If they are, perhaps they're not the right employer for you.

      This is in line with my advice which is to be generally honest about your application. If you've got nothing to hide, why hide it.

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