How to Keep Your Resume Out of the Trash

By Keenan J. Emery

You’ve just finished your resume. It’s full of your accomplishments, goals, hopes, and dreams. You’ve spent hours and hours crafting it and are finally ready to apply for that dream job.

Little do you know that most employers (especially now) have received hundreds of applications for a position. Because of this (and the human attention span), recruiters and employers spend an average of six seconds reviewing an individual resume.

So, not only is it extremely challenging to find a job in present times, but you have to deal with the fact that the person reviewing your resume barely looked at it. You need to find ways to catch the reviewer’s eye — and quickly. So, how do you make your resume stand out in a socially distant, virtual, competitive, and pandemic-influenced environment? 

Here’s how:

Beat the Bots

According to Sulaiman Rahman, CEO of DiverseForce, “Organizations are increasingly using automation to screen resumes, so it’s important for job seekers to use keywords that are also found in the actual job description.” In other words, your resume needs to reflect the same words that were used in the original job posting. If the ad mentioned a “detail-oriented problem solver,” you should probably use the same words in your resume and cover letter.

Also, keep your resume design simple. It’s okay to have an aesthetically-pleasing resume, but unique formats and designs are difficult for automated systems to review. This could mean that your incredible resume never makes it past the bots. Instead, show your design skills in an online portfolio or a cover letter.

Hook em’

Because reviewers look at resumes for so short an amount of time, you need to catch their eyes quickly. It would be best if you had a compelling hook. Do so with your opening line (right below your name and title). This summary should showcase your skills and strengths and why you are a good fit for the role. This will be your best shot to entice the reviewer to read on. Make sure your hook aligns well with the position you are applying for and uses industry-specific terms.

Show experience in a different way

A few years ago, I graduated from college with minimal experience to put on my resume. It seemed like every job posting went something like this: “Looking for an entry-level professional with ten+ years of industry experience, ability to speak twelve languages, and willing to work for free.”

Obviously, the job hunt is challenging, and crafting a compelling resume can seem nearly impossible when you come out of college with little experience and skills. However, don’t forget that you can add other projects you worked on as a student. This can be group projects, research papers, and studies that show your communication, time management, writing, and teamwork skills. Use title likes “project manager” or “lead researcher” to make it more professional. Just be sure to highlight accomplishments that are relevant to the job you are applying for.

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