In today’s competitive job market, hundreds (sometimes thousands) of people are applying for the same job. To add make things even more challenging, many of the people submitting resumes meet only a fraction of the qualifications (if any) which makes the job of the person scanning the resumes even more challenging. But that doesn’t matter to you, the job seeker. What does matter is how you can stand out from the crowd so that your resume is actually read. Here’s how.
Resumes are not one-size-fits-all:
Let’s face it, creating a resume is a lot of work. Getting everything to fit just right on to two pages and lined up nicely can take the better part of a day. So it might be tempting to blast that resume of all resumes out to every employer that has a job opening. But with everyone else doing exactly that, chances are yours won’t stand out from the masses.
What works well for direct mail doesn’t work well for a job search — even though most jobseekers take this approach. Chances are, a lot of good candidates are seeking the same position that you are and you want to make sure that you have every advantage you can get.
Most firms have someone from human resources scan resumes and pass along the ones that appear to be a good fit to the hiring manager. There’s a better chance that your resume will actually be read if you take a few minutes to customize your resume to highlight your qualifications that match those that the company is seeking. This isn’t rocket science either. Just do the following:
- Include a summary that lists your experience that closely matches the job description.
- Use bold text to highlight the key words in your resume that are of most interest to the company.
- This will ensure that they don’t miss these things when quickly scanning your resume.
- Leave out things that aren’t relevant to the employer.
Send a cover letter:
Yes, a cover letter is extra work but it increases the chances of your resume getting read, especially when done right. Companies have a reason for requesting a cover letter — it shows whether the candidate is interested in that particular job (as opposed to any job out there).
Your cover letter should include the following:
- Why you’re interested in the job.
- A summary of your skills that best fit the qualifications on the job description.
- A note about your resume.
The first point is pretty basic. Simply choose something about the company’s reputation or the position and show that you’ve at least researched the company. “XYZ Corp’s is consistently ranked the top supplier of widgets” or “the duties of this role compliment my strengths but the company’s plans over the next five years also allow for the growth I’m looking for” is a start, but make sure you can back it up with facts. Again, you want to show that you’re interested in the firm and that you’ve done your homework. This will help you stand out against most of the people applying for that job.
The best thing you can include on your cover letter is a two column table that shows the potential employer why you’re a good fit. The left column should have the header “Your Requirements” and the right column “My Qualifications.” Then grab the job description and put each relevant requirement in separate rows in the left column. After that, put your relevant qualifications for each requirement in the corresponding right column.
For example, if they ask for 5+ years of experience in a supervisory role, you might put “6 years supervision of three employees at ABC Company.” This is a great way to highlight your experience and get the attention of the person reading your resume.
If you’ve highlighted (or bolded) parts of your resume, say so in your cover letter. A line such as “for your convenience, I’ve highlighted the parts of my resume of most relevant to the job description.”
It’s all about personalization:
Writing your resume (and cover letter) with the position that you’re applying for in mind is the best way to get it looked it. You want to stand out from the masses that send a generic resume out to any company with an open position. Yes, it takes extra time to customize your resume and to write a cover letter, but so few people actually take the time to do this, that you’ll be one of the few that stand out.
Good luck with your job search.