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12 Tips to Build a Resume That Will Get You Hired

August 25, 2014 - Allison Martin, Money Talk News

When you're applying for a job, your resume is the essential tool that helps you get your foot in the door.

So, how do you write a resume that makes you stand out from the competition in the brutal job market we face today?

1. Focus on the position you're pursuing
Thoroughly examine the job description to determine how your skills match the qualifications the employer is searching for. Then emphasize the details of your work experience, skills and accomplishments in your resume to highlight what the employer wants. That will get a hiring manager's attention.

Another reason for this: Many big companies scan resumes submitted online to weed out those that don't meet their criteria. Business Insider recommends, "If you're going to apply online, use keywords from the job description and the company's website, and keep your resume simple so it doesn't confuse the system."

Monster says:

"In a sea of bland candidates, the most captivating resume is the one that seems to match all of their requirements, including necessary technical skills, work experiences, and degrees, certifications, or licenses," (Mark Slack, a career adviser at Resume Genius) says. "If your previous work experience is not relevant to the job description, you will need to get creative and frame your current skill set as being transferable into a new role."

2. Don't just list work history
What's more important than how many years you've been working is what you've achieved during that time. Accomplishments are what separate the winning candidates from those who don't make the final cut.

When listing accomplishments, quantify where you can when describing your successes and be as specific as possible. Replace vague claims like "worked in loss prevention and saved money" with "saved the company $XX a year by implementing a system that (specifics here)."

3. Emphasize job titles, and not dates says hiring managers review resumes very quickly. A brief read and it's done. So what do you want them to be focused on: How long you held each position or what you actually did on the job? The website adds:

When listing past employment, instead of listing dates first, list them last. A good order is: title/position, name of employer, city/state of employer, and then dates.

4. Tell the truth
Considering fabricating a few elements on your resume to boost your credibility or expertise? Think again.

"Fifty-eight percent of hiring managers said they've caught a lie on a resume," a recent CareerBuilder survey revealed.

Because employers are well aware of this common practice, they often go beyond basic reference checks and conduct background checks and employment verifications to validate the information candidates provide.

Even if you fly under the radar and land the job, you're still at risk for termination if the employer discovers the lie later on.

5. Omit unnecessary details
A job application and resume are two distinct documents, so don't load the latter up with a ton of nonessential information.

For instance, if you're a college graduate, you won't need to list your high school diploma on your resume (unless you know that the hiring manager attended the same high school). If you're a seasoned accounting professional, omit your high school or college job at Krispy Kreme (unless you're applying for a corporate job there). I think you get the point.

6. Start with a great summary
Use the space at the top to briefly communicate the experience and skills that make you a great fit for the position you're applying for. You'll find lots of help online about how to word a summary for your particular occupation.

For instance, Inc. says:

Executives are focused on solving challenges of time, money, and risk. When reviewing a resume, they want someone who's overcome challenges in at least one of these areas, if not all three.

Struggling with the summary? It may be better to not use one in your resume.

7. Don't get personal
The recruiter isn't interested in any identifying information other than your name, address, email and phone number. So do not include any references to your religion, personal values or family.

8. Avoid unusual or overly long text
If the resume isn't easy on the eyes, good luck getting the hiring manager to read it. Avoid paragraphs; bullet points are better. You don't need lots of colors and a variety of fonts. Simple and clean is the preferred look.

9. Proofread your work
A second set of eyes on your resume is essential before you submit it. A misspelling, typo or grammatical error in a resume or cover letter could cause a hiring manager to toss them even if you're a good fit for the job otherwise. Mistakes like that communicate to them that you are not attentive to detail and that you're not professional.

10. Don't rely too much on templates
Relying too much on the many resume templates you can find online will indicate to a hiring manager that you couldn't take the time to individualize your resume. Yet another reason to toss it in the trash. A template is merely a place to start.

11. Don't ramble
A resume is not your life story, but a marketing tool and synopsis of what you have to offer the organization. So cover the important information and keep it brief. The appropriate length depends on your work history.

A CareerBuilder survey found:

Employers have different expectations for resume length based on tenure in the workforce. For new college graduates, 66 percent of employers said a resume should be one page long. For seasoned workers, the majority of employers (77 percent) said a resume should be at least two pages.

12. Lose the reference footer
No need to disclose that "references are available upon request." A potential employer will assume this information is readily available.

In essence, you want to convey that you are skilled in your profession and highlight the experience and accomplishments that will advance the organization's interests. Your cover letter is the opportunity to explain who you are in more detail.

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