In this tight job market, making your resume stand out is crucial. We all know that our resumes are our chief marketing tool, but still, there are many people who send out resumes that don't have what it takes to impress employers in the digital age. Years ago, a well-written, neatly typed resume could be photocopied and mailed out to companies with great success. The document was the same for each potential employer and it served as a written work history. Those days are gone.
In today's digital job market, a resume has to be internet-friendly. We have to understand and accept the fact that the document we email to employers will be subject to Google web searches and even scanned by an applicant tracking system. Although the change has made work easier for human resource departments, it makes things more difficult for a job seeker.
If you are struggling to find a job, here are 5 ways that you can add some "wow" to your digital resume:
Research companies and keywords: When starting your job search, look at job boards and print out all of the job listings for companies you are interested in. Compare the ads and look for the most frequently used keywords. These words will be related to the most desirable skills and experience for the position. Once you've identified the important keywords, make sure that your resume contains those same words. Since most companies use some sort of applicant tracking system that scans resumes for specific keywords, the more hits your resume has, the better.
Always customize your resume for the job: The days of cookie-cutter resumes are long over, which is why it's important to edit your resume to match the keywords for each job. Every time you send out a resume, you should customize it to target the specific company. It's a little more effort, but if the prize is a job that will pay you a good salary, it's worth the extra 30 minutes. After all, this is the first deliverable to your new company - make it count.
Address your cover letter to someone: If you aren't sure who is in charge of hiring or don't know the name of the person, do some research and find out. These days, almost everyone has an online presence. With a quick web search or by using a professional networking site like LinkedIn, you should be able to discover the name of the person in charge of hiring. If your internet sleuthing doesn't give you a name, you could try cold calling the company and asking. Addressing a cover letter to "Dear Hiring Manager" should be avoided at all costs.
Use your network to get a personal referral: Having someone you know recommend you for the position is the best way to make sure that your resume is actually read by a real person. Once you submit your resume, make a list of people you know. If you don't personally know someone who works for the company, ask the people on your list if they know anyone. If, after checking with everyone, you still don't have a contact on the inside, use networking sites to find someone. Start a conversation and ask for help. You'll be surprised at how many people, even the ones you only know through distant friends, would be more than happy to help.
Follow up with the hiring manager: After sending in your resume and cover letter, it's a good idea to call the hiring manager personally to confirm that they have received your application. This doesn't mean that you should call and say, "Did you get my resume?" Instead, use the call as an opportunity to give your pitch and stand out. For example, you could call and say, "Hi, this is Ms. Smith. I've been working in sales for 10 years and I have a proven track record of success. I'm very interested in working with your company. I just sent you a copy of my resume. I wanted to take a moment to touch base with you and make sure that you've received it." This gives you a moment to state your name and say why you are someone they don't want to miss out on. It shows that you are determined and sincere about your interest in the position and illustrates how you get things done.
Giving your resume the "wow" factor involves doing more work at first, but it can make you stand out and help you land the job you really want. Do you customize your resume for each job? How do you make your resume memorable? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
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