Can't seem to secure a job interview? Here are a few tweaks you can make to your resume to help you get to that next step.
Few things are more disappointing than finding a job (or two or 10), submitting your resume, … and then silence. You don't even get a chance to talk to a hiring manager to tell them how jazzed you are about the position and to flaunt your skills and experiences.
If you're in the middle of experiencing this right now, don't get too down on yourself — it happens. In fact, an average corporate job listing receives 250 applications, according to Glassdoor statistics. Of these applications, only four to six candidates are called in for an interview before one is ultimately offered the job.
The good news is you can take the following steps to improve your resume success and help you land the interview:
1. Consider the format
Before you start analyzing each line and each word of your resume, take a good bird's-eye view and consider its formatting. With resumes, less is typically more, so there's no need to color code your skills, add elaborate borders, or even include a headshot.
The goal is to keep it simple so the employer or applicant tracking system (ATS) can focus on your skills. Speaking of the ATS …
2. Ensure your resume passes the ATS test
By now, you've probably heard of an ATS — though maybe not by that particular name. It's basically a type of software hiring managers use to collect, sort, scan, and rank incoming resumes for hireability. The top-ranking resumes determined by the system will then get passed to the humans at the company. Although this was initially common practice at large corporations, more and more companies are adopting this tool every day.
So what does this mean for you and your resume? It means you should take the necessary steps to beat the ATS bots. Here are a few quick fixes you can make to your resume so it is more ATS friendly:
Avoid using images, charts, graphics, or elaborate symbols. (Remember: Less is more.)
Optimize your resume with job-related keywords. Not sure what to include? Look up five similar job listings and scan them for the most frequently used words.
Save and upload your resume as a Word document, instead of a PDF. These tend to be more ATS friendly.
Even if the company you're applying to doesn't use an ATS, these tips will still help make your resume stronger overall.
3. Focus on — and quantify — your achievements
Now it's time to look at your resume with a more critical eye. It's easy to get stuck in the rut of listing your day-to-day responsibilities under each job, so ask yourself: Am I describing my daily tasks, or am I highlighting my achievements? Companies want to see the achievements ‒‒ to see you took the initiative to produce positive results.
While you're thinking about your achievements within your current and past positions, make sure to quantify them. Instead of saying you increased employee retention rate, showcase an actual percent change. Instead of saying you increased sales, include the dollar amount.
This will show the company you're results-driven and capable of making changes.
4. Tweak your resume to fit the job description
Wait! Before you write this step off because you've already spent hours perfecting one version of your resume, listen up. Tailoring your resume to each job listing doesn't mean you have to rewrite it entirely. You should, however, tweak your resume summary and your work history to reflect the skills and experiences a company highlights in its job posting.
The more specific you are, the better, and usually that means tailoring — or even slightly tweaking — your resume to better fit the particular job you're applying for.
Related: Ask Amanda: How Are a Resume Objective and a Resume Summary Different?
5. Cut those empty buzzwords
When writing your resume, it's easy to get trapped by buzzwords. After all, you want to sound smart and impressive, so why not lean into the idea of being a hard-working self-starter who's keen on thought leadership and strives for synergy and is always a team player.
The truth? Half of those words are overused cliches that lack any true meaning. The other half are just business jargon that, once again, lack any true meaning. Focus on cutting those words and replacing them with concrete, quantifiable terms that showcase your specific experiences and accomplishments instead.
6. Proofread … then proofread again
Our final tip that can increase your resume's success at landing the job interview? Proofread your resume. Then proofread it again and again — and maybe one more time. According to a 2018 survey, the biggest resume deal-breaker for hiring managers is spelling and/or grammatical errors.
Sometimes it can be difficult to catch errors on your resume after you've spent hours working on it; your brain will begin to fill in words that aren't there, and you might miss something important. If you have the time, set your resume aside for a day. Then return to it with fresh eyes.
You can also print it out (it helps to read it in a different format, away from your computer screen) or read it aloud. You'll want to look for misspelled or missing words, repetitive phrases, and empty buzzwords.
Final thoughts: Be patient and persistent
Once you've made these changes to your resume, start applying for jobs again, but exercise patience. Remember those statistics about job interviews earlier? How only four to six candidates out of 250 are called in for an interview? Give yourself time. The perfect opportunity will come along.
Not sure if your resume is holding you back from the interviews you deserve? Check with our free resume review today!