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Happy 2013!  At the beginning of this new year, I compiled some of the most frequently asked resume writing and building tips.  The goal here is to help you on the road toward developing an awesome 2013 resume.

Applicant Tracking Systems

  • All applicant tracking systems work basically the same.  They use a ‘parser’  to read the information in your resume.
  • The parser will read your information vs. the information it has been given by the company.  In most cases, keywords pulled from the job description will be used.  Unfortunately you don’t know the keywords or the parameters they have been given.  What this means is that your resume submission must use the exact terminology or you risk the parser not forwarding your resume.
  • Yes, you read that correctly.  Just because you submitted your resume and  received notification that it was accepted, it doesn’t mean it will reach the  hiring manager or HR.  Unfortunately, unqualified candidates answer job ads so the applicant tracking system helps to sort resumes.
  • It is important that you customize your resume to each job description.
  • Your resume is scored for relevancy. Relevancy is based on the correlating matches between your resume and the job description’s keyword.
  • You must also read the disclaimers/information on the web site. You need  to know how long a company keeps your resume, can you update it and can you apply for different positions or does one resume submission cover other jobs as they become available. This is important because one general resume for a media relations position may not fit the qualifications for a corporate communications position, etc. Some companies post a new position and look at the resumes they receive for that position. They don’t go through the database to search for other candidates. You need to know how long it will be on file so you know when to re-submit it.
  • If you have submitted a resume online, a recruiter cannot resubmit it.

Online Resume Submission

  • Think keywords.  Computer software programs make matches by keywords.  Read the ad, job description and any other materials so you can use the company’s words as your keywords.  You probably need 25-30 keywords  in your resume.
  • Position yourself. If you are going to post your resume online, find the right ones. If you are a senior-level professional, look for sites that only handle your level or area of expertise.
  • Profile yourself. Your statement is important on your resume but is extremely important on your web site and social media pages. You can expand your statement online sites but make sure you fill it with Google  optimized words.

Your Resume

  • It’s an advertisement for you, not your autobiography. You want a  particular job; your resume is your chance to call attention to you and what you’ve done. Some people believe resumes should be one page because they want to see a quick glimpse of you.  While we don’t believe  in one-page resumes, you must be careful to be specific, concise and to the point. You want the hiring manager to want to learn more about you.
  • No gimmicks please.  Gimmicks may get attention, but they won’t make up  for a sub-par resume.
  • Formatting is important.  It makes your resume easier to read/scan and it provides the reader with a road map to follow – all your titles, dates etc. will be in the same place. If you are submitting a resume online, be careful of your margins.  You don’t know how a computer scanner is set so leave at least a 1” margin all around.  Since you don’t know the age or eyesight of the reader, use an easy type to typeface.
  • Objectives are out, summaries are in.  Unless you have a specific objective and will only consider that type of job, use a career summary – a short  concise pitch about you and what you have to offer.
  • Interviews. You should be getting 5 or 6 first interviews for every 100 targeted resumes you send out. If you are not, you might be sending out resumes to every ad you see, whether the job fits or not. Also, have someone  review your resume to make sure it’s clear as to what you are looking  for and that it doesn’t contain a typo.
  • You should be getting one second interview for every 8 first interviews. If not, ask yourself whether you need to polish your interviewing skills. Are you coming across as desperate or unsure?
  • Have you ever been a finalist for more than 8 or 9 positions and not landed a job? If so, try to review what happened. If the companies hired from within, there isn’t anything you could have done. If the company decided not to hire anyone, there isn’t anything you could have done. But to get this far this many times and not have closed the deal suggests that  something is wrong.  For starters, you might want to review your references. Are you giving them enough information so that they can be helpful? Consider adding new ones to the list. Sometimes, the personality of the reference makes a big difference, too!
  • Update, Update, Update.  Each job is a little different. Before you send out  a resume, update or tweak it for each job position.
  • Resumes are written in the third person and they are written in past tense.  You  may opt to put your current job in present tense but the rest is in past tense.
  • A resume is a marketing tool. Use it that way. It’s the paper that shows what you  have achieved to take you to the next step in your career.
  • Don’t lie.  Titles, dates, compensation, education are all very east to check.
  • Computers are often the first readers of resumes. They will scan for keywords. It is important that you use the keywords from an ad or job description in your resume. Otherwise, a human may never see your resume.
  • References on request. This is a given. Don’t waste a line on your resume with it.
  • Your resume is yours. It represents you and it is how you sell yourself.  You can’t please all the people all the time. △