It's becoming harder than ever to get your resume read by a real person.
“HR people are drowning in resumes, and despite their best intentions, many can’t keep up,” says executive recruiter Mike Travis.
Help your resume win the attention it deserves by following these up-to-date tips from industry insiders.
* “Keep it shorter, tighter, and more laser-focused,” advises resume expert Louise Kursmark. “Resumes are by necessity becoming crisper and more to the point.” With Twitter, texting, and a barrage of quick-hit multimedia messages, we’re getting accustomed to the succinct. “Readers quickly lose interest in wordy resumes that don’t get right to the point,” she says. This goes for cover letters, too.
* “Show some humor or personality,” says Jennifer Turner, of Talagy recruiting and staffing company. “I recently called a candidate, even though he didn’t match any current positions, because his online resume title was, ‘Smart and Funny Sales Guy.'”
* “Make your resume read like a news story, not an encyclopedia entry,” suggests Sam Levine, of The Buttonwood Group. Pop an eye-catching headline and lead on the top and be sure to include a summary of qualifications.
* “Be results-oriented,” advises Erin Riley, assistant director of career services at the Chapman University School of Law. Whenever possible, quantify your accomplishments. Example: Instead of simply writing “Drafted OSHA appeal,” she says, include results: “Drafted OSHA appeal resulting in 90% reduction of employer fine for employee’s serious on-the-job injury.”
* “Show what sets you apart,” says Nancy Keene, a director of Stanton Chase global executive search firm. “I like to see some indication of personal interests. It’s a good conversation trigger and provides some additional insight into who the person is.”
Riley agrees. “It’s an opportunity to make yourself memorable as an applicant,” she says. While an actual Personal Interest section is not usually advised, you can find ways to integrate your interests into your resume. For example, you could list your volunteer activities to give hiring managers some sense of your passions.
* “Use appropriate keywords,” suggests Kursmark. Since machines are increasingly reading your resume before people are, give the tracking systems what they’re looking for: the most significant keywords from the job description that fit your qualifications — anything from degrees to programming languages and other specialized job-related skills.
* “Let others sing your praises,” says Richard Deems, co-author of “Make Job Loss Work for You.” “We add a section at the end we title, ‘What Others Say.’ Then we list five short statements, usually without attribution, that others have said about the person.” Examples: “Sticks with it until the job gets done,” or “The most creative, prolific employee I’ve ever had.”
* “If your name is difficult to pronounce, include your nickname,” says Heather R. Huhman, president of Come Recommended. Like it or not, “Companies are more likely to call you for an interview if you provide a name they can easily pronounce,” she says.