First impressions are everything. Whether it’s the first date, first day of school, or a job interview, first impressions set the stage for what’s to come. When applying for jobs, your resume sets the stage for you, arriving on the recruiter’s desk before they even meet you in person. A recent study shows that recruiters and employers will only scan each resume they see for an average of 6 seconds. That means in 6 seconds flat, they’ll decide whether or not you’re a worthy candidate for the position. In that tiny frame of time, you want them to see the best you have to offer them.
Put your best foot forward and make sure your resume is prepped and polished for any position you may apply for. Customizing resumes for each potential job is essential. It’s a good idea to change it up every time you apply for a new job, so it is perfectly tailored each time. Here are five ways to make resume improvements.
The Master Copy
Start with a master resume. This should be one document, several pages in length that chronicles your entire professional history, civic engagement projects, and a full database of skills. From here, you can pick and choose what goes on to each individual resume, so each one is fine-tuned for the job you’re applying for. If you format it the right way, you can even just copy and paste lines directly into your latest resume.
Your Most Recent Experience May Not Make you Most Qualified
What was your last job? If you’re a recent college graduate, there’s a chance it is something in the food service industry, or retail. While it’s all well and good that you worked through college, a summer internship in the field you’re trying to break into might be just the thing to catch your future employer’s eye. List the most relevant experience you have above the most recent experience you have. If your resume is overflowing with amazing and relevant experience, its ok to remove your part-time job.
When reading a job posting online, or hearing about a job from a recruiter, there are certain triggers that help assure you that you are the perfect candidate for the position. We call these triggers buzzwords, and you’re not the only one who perks up when you hear them. Employers and recruiters are actively searching for candidates who include buzzwords in their resumes and cover letters.
So where do you find these magic words? Start by looking in the actual job description. If the employer already described their perfect candidate, then you should describe the perfect candidate to right back to them when detailing your previous positions. While you’re at it, make it a point to check the company’s website. What kind of language do they use to describe the company? They might call themselves a group of professionals with excellent communication skills who take pride in their corporate-social responsibility. At your previous job, didn’t you effectively communicate with the rest of the office to plan a volunteer event?
Don’t Limit Your Research
If you’re unsure of the skills desired of your position, try searching for people with the same job title on Linkedin. Which aspects of the “skills & expertise” section are they most endorsed in? If you’re proficient in those skills, they should be on your resume as well.
While you’re checking the company’s website for buzzwords, see what kind of organizations they volunteer with. What are they passionate about? If you have any previous experience with any of those organizations, or even a similar organization, don’t hesitate to include it.
If there is anything else you’ve done in the past that might be of particular interest to a future employer, include it! For example, if you’re applying for a position that will include writing, and you have published writing samples, add the links in an extra section. If you’re applying for a job in social media, and you’ve monitored professional accounts in the past, include those links. Don’t be afraid to show off your work!
By the time you’re through, everything about your resume should reflect your most positive self, who also happens to be the ideal candidate for each specific position. Remember, you only have 6 seconds, so make the most of it!
Personally, I have a huge amount of trouble staying connected in this technology-driven world. I often find myself being pushed around by the tide of new information available everyday on the internet. Here’s what I really need: a hub to connect my social media pages, resume information, and previous work samples. But here’s the good news: even if you have no technical experience, plenty of platforms can provide that service for free. Setting up a personal website will help you define your professional self, direct employers and recruiters to information about your qualifications, and help you brand yourself online.
Here’s a quick guide to help you asses which platforms are best for your professional needs. Not all personal websites are created equal, and we’re here to help guide through the decision process. Keep in mind that you will most likely need more than just a personal website. It’s a good idea create some social media as well. Additionally, most of these platforms can complement each other nicely. You may need to use more than one of these programs for your job search.
Need Addressed: Put your visual portfolio online.
Pros: If you career revolves around visual craetivity, Behance is a great option for clean portfolios. Not only can you easily and clearly post your previous work, their job board is a vibrant host to creative jobs and freelance opportunities. Recruiters can list their job opportunities and browse your portfolio in the same ecosystem.
Cons: Behance is very selective. In order to have an account, you need to be invited from a current member. Networking through other social mediums (LinkedIn, Tumblr) — or the old-fashioned but dependable “real world” — is necessary to score an invitation to the community.
WordPress + Free Theme
Need: Build a complex personal website (e.g. a blog, portfolio, biography, and a page listing your consulting rates – all in one place)
Pros: WordPress is incredibly versatile for different professions. They offers different page designs, some that are targeted toward certain careers (ex. the Buttercream theme would be excellent for a baker), and others that are plain and adaptable for different professional fields (ex. the Responsive theme). Simple and straightforward for employers, this site is great for consulting job seekers.
Cons: Of all the items on the list, WordPress is the most stuffed with features – and for beginner users, those features can feel a lot like bloat. If you need to keep it simple, WordPress is more overwhelming than slimmer platforms like Tumblr or Clippings (coming later in this list).
Need: Personal Branding Hub
Pros: About.me enables you to build visually striking profiles that connect your portfolio and social media presence in one place. Recruiters can spot-check the blurb on your profile to get the elevator pitch on your career, and easily access more information about your skills and work experience through connected links. Built-in apps will pull key information from other professional sites, like LinkedIn credentials and Smarterer scores. (We know, we know, ulterior motives – we’d make the same recommendation if the integration didn’t exist, though.)
Cons: A recruiter will only see the short description you’ve written about yourself – it’s up to you to compel them to dig into your arsenal of external links. If you can’t write a compelling ‘hook,’ you may squander your chance to put your portfolio and LinkedIn profile in front of your visitors.
Need: Writing Samples Portfolio
Pros: If you need to showcase your writing, clippings.me is designed for you. Literally. Since they offer the ability to categorize your articles, recruiters can easily find the articles that pertain job you’re applying to. It allows your web writing samples to live in the environment they were published, with comments and social interactions intact.
Cons: Recruiters can easily see your work, but not your resume. You’ll have send it them some other way. The framework for Clippings is simple, but adding too many articles can be overwhelming for the viewer. Consider adding just your best pieces to your homepage.
So now you’re on your way to being technologically-savvier, more professional, and well-known. You’ve been branded: there’s new job opportunities on your horizon, your social media pages are connected and easier to navigate, and you’ve made yourself and your resume more accessible. Where do you go from here? Up, my friend. Up.
It’s a common frustration: you think you have that perfect resume, but then you never get a call back. The whole process of landing a job has become so standardized that there’s little room for an exceptional candidate to stand out. With cookie-cutter resume formats, cover letter arrangements, and even specified ways to answer interview questions floating around, where’s the crack in the armor for jobseekers to slip through?
Well, according to Reddit CEO Yishan Wong, the answer isn’t found within a perfect resume, but rather the external evidence you can produce to prove your worth. In a Quora thread titled “What are effective ways to assess if someone is good at getting things done?”, Wong chimes in:
The way to assess if someone is good at getting things done is to see what things they’ve gotten done.
But there’s a twist.
Wong isn’t referring that paper you got an ‘A’ on senior year, or some written samples from a previous job or internship, he’s looking for something outside the box that is uniquely ‘you.’ Everyone is required to do school papers and professional assignments, and doing this work, even exceptionally, just proves you can competently follow the rules. Wong believes that the ideal employee, one who routinely ‘gets things done,’ can be found by looking beyond what is expected;
What [employers] are looking for is the person who, in addition to their school/work projects – for their own personal reasons – decided to build or create something and brought it to a finished point. Repeatedly.
It is worth noting that the content of these projects is not necessarily important. Wong and other employers are searching for a productive and motivated employee, and someone who put time and effort into some trivial hobby would naturally bring the same work ethic into the professional world. For the same reasons these projects don’t have to be recent, as Wong notes;
People who “get things done” have had ample opportunity to do just that, and they will be able to point to the results.
Patterns of productivity start early and pointing to something from your teenage years simply proves consistency.
Fortunately for the uber-productive out there, bringing these projects into the limelight should be a simple task. As Wong notes, the evidence of productivity is lying around everywhere. Be it in through physical evidence, journals, photos or whatever else, the proof exists, and is ready and waiting to help you land your dream job.
Employers strive to find the best but, with dozens of applicants to look over, they can’t be expected to dig into the pasts of everyone who walks through the door. Be sure to have specific personal accomplishments in mind when contacting potential employers, and don’t be shy if they’re a little strange! You know that you’re heads and shoulders above everyone else, right? All you need to do is prove it. Just a little piece of job search advice from one of the largest websites in the world. (It also happens to be my secret job search weapon.)
Have any personal projects in your arsenal that line up with Wong’s thinking? Fill us in with a comment or shoot a tweet to @smarterer.