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How to Make Your Resume Work for You

By Nicole Cox, Chief Recruitment Officer
With Tom Brennan, Senior Writer

resume success

Part 5 in our series:  Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions For Hiring Managers and Candidates

January? Wasn’t it just Thanksgiving? Before it gets any later in the year, take advantage of the tips we’ve provided in the first four parts of this series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4), whether you are a hiring manager or a job seeker. They’ll make the recruiting process smoother for both sides.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a job, take a moment to realize that you are designing your career. What companies do you want to work for? How do you want those companies to perceive you? How can you guarantee that perception on a piece of paper? Here are eight best practices you can adopt in 2014 to optimize the all-important résumé.

1. Take aim with your resume

One size does NOT fit all! Tweak your résumé for each position, based on the posted requirements. Highlight those experiences and accomplishments that show you are well qualified for this particular opening.

2. Actions speak louder

Hiring managers (HMs) want to see what you have DONE, not just what titles you’ve held. Focus on accomplishments. Instead of writing, “I was part of a team that did X,” give details about your specific contributions. If you don’t yet have work experience, put your academic and leadership accomplishments.

3. Be easy to love

Assume you have only 15 seconds of a recruiter’s or HM’s attention — it’s pretty close to the truth. The first portion is the most important, so highlight accomplishments there. Leave out the fluff and keep it concise, precise and easy to read.


4. Sleeker is sweeter

Chances are your résumé will be uploaded into and parsed by an applicant tracking system (ATS), so keep the formatting sleek and straightforward. Fancy fonts and elaborate formatting can confuse the ATS. Use the same font throughout, even if you cut and pasted parts from older versions. And just like email and SMS, avoid all caps unless you really are yelling!

5. SmartResume®

Okay, it isn’t really a registered product, but the tools recruiters and HMs use to search are smart, so your résumé should be, too. As they search on résumé databases and ATSs, they’ll use keywords, so anticipate what those keywords will be and include them. That is, if cost accounting experience is required and you have it, make sure it’s on your résumé.

6. Respect your own privacy

Privacy may be a thing of the past, but be prudent: don’t include pictures, social security numbers, marital status or hobbies. In addition, you don’t want to include anything that might trigger bias — even unconscious bias. Stick to the facts that are relevant to the position. Once you get to a face-to-face interview you can share some personal info, but even then keep it to a minimum.

7. Don’t be invisible, man

Get your résumé out there. At a minimum, post it on Monster, CareerBuilder, LinkedIn and Indeed. Expand your social media network and make sure it includes relevant contacts. People still get most of their jobs through people they know. Identify some employees of your target employers and reach out to connect with them.


8. Beyond the resume

When you submit your résumé, answer any additional questions that are asked. For one thing, it demonstrates that you are motivated and interested. It may also give you an opportunity to provide more information about your relevant experience.

You can find more great — and current — tips on this page and those connected to it:

That wraps it up for our New Year’s resolutions. We hope they will help you, in 2014, find the right candidate for your opening and/or the right opening for your skills, goals and dreams.

Connect with Nicole on LinkedIn or Twitter.

To learn more about Decision Toolbox, contact us – we’d love to hear from you!

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