For many of us, September ushers in the return to a committed schedule of business, job, and/or academic activities. It also marks the kick-off of the annual recruiting and hiring cycle by employers. Even in these tough economic times, new jobs are being created, turnaround happens in existing jobs, and people move on.
So, it’s no surprise that September is International Update Your Resume Month, as designated by Career Directors International. Have you thought about updating your resume? Perhaps you have already added your current job to the chronological listing on your resume, and feel you are prepared for your job search. If so, you may be in for a shock.
There is a whole lot more to updating your resume than simply tacking on a new job and job duties to your jobs-listing resume. The job search process has become much more complex, and that includes resumes. For starters, here are 7 must-do items to bring your resume into the 21st century. Consider this a checklist for resume success:
1. Focus / Job Target. Could your existing resume be characterized as a “fishing-expedition”, jack-of-all-trades resume? These kinds of resumes are spotted instantly by hiring managers and recruiters and discarded. Instead, your resume must have a clear Job Target that is expressed in terms that employers understand…a Job Title. Employers fill job openings with job titles! So, rather than maximizing your possibilities, a generic resume that you hope to use for all different types of jobs does exactly the opposite. And it signals to an employer that you are likely confused about or lacking a Career Focus (not a positive factor).
2. Personal Branding. What really makes you stand out from other similarly qualified applicants? If you do not know the answer to that question, then you are marketing yourself as a commodity. Commodities are indistinguishable from one another. And it certainly does not matter to the employer which commodity he/she “buys”. Instead, discover and convey your personal branding - what is authentic, relevant, and compelling about you. Then you will have powerful brand leverage for your entire job search process.
3. Accomplishments. Does your list of job duties taken from your job description persuade the hiring manager or recruiters that you are a grab-this-person-quick candidate? Probably not, because other candidates vying for the same kind of job will have listed the very same job duties! Job duties merely tell an employer what you were supposed to do, not whether you did any of those functions. Even more important, job duties do not describe how well you actually performed those duties. Accomplishments that are relevant to your Job Target, especially quantified accomplishments with dollar amounts, percentages, and numbers, will trump job duties any day of the week.
4. Value. Companies and organizations expect a return-on-investment (ROI) for hiring you. What ROI Value do you bring to the table? Here are some examples: save time / money / resources, or grow customers / market share / sponsors / partners, or increase revenues / profitability / visibility / competitive positioning. If you expect to make it past the initial 8-seconds review by recruiters and hiring managers, your Brand-Value Proposition (BVP) must be clear and featured prominently in your resume.
5. Up-to-date Training. Are you a dinosaur in your industry? Here is the bottom line: employers do not “buy” out-of-date, irrelevant knowledge and skills. Up-to-date training, certifications, degrees, courses, workshops, conferences, and seminars all demonstrate to an employer that you are serious about providing Value via your job role. Ongoing learning and training are no longer optional to remain competitive in the 21st century job market. So, just do it!
6. Optimized Content. When you submit your resume for an online job posting, do you often feel like it has ended up in a “black hole” because you never hear back from that employer? If so, you may not have optimized the content in your resume. Optimizing your resume with relevant required and desired keywords will make it more easily found and surfaced by employers and recruiters in their Applicant Tracking System (ATS) databases. These ATS databases are where your resume lands when you click the “submit” button online. You will languish in this “black hole” unless you take steps to properly optimize your resume for your Job Target.
7. Readability. Did you know your resume must pass thorough inspection by both technology and human beings? Resume-Screening Software is the tech tool most commonly used by employers because it is lightning-fast, extremely economic, and not susceptible to claims of bias or discrimination. If your resume is not constructed to be “readable” by this screening software, then you don’t even make it to first base. Oftentimes, human beings prefer a more visually appealing – and engaging – resume, rather than the “plain-vanilla” ATS version. Keep the target audience (human or computer) in mind when offering up your resume for consideration.
How many items on the checklist does your resume lack – one, two, or more? If you want to make it into the top tier of candidates competing for the same job, you must ensure none of the items is missing. If not, you are simply playing the Job Search Lottery Game whenever you submit your resume!