When your resume isn’t working, here are 5 ways to improve it

By Scot Herrick | Job Search

Jun 04

Network resume

The most important point to remember when creating or modifying your resume is this: Your resume gets you the first interview for a job. It doesn’t get you past the first interview, it doesn’t get you to the hiring manager, and it doesn’t get you hired. It just gets you the first interview.

Of course, that’s no small thing, getting a job interview.

And, based on all of the resumes I’ve seen, you could create a significant advantage for yourself when applying for a job if you had the right stuff on your resume — the stuff others won’t remember or don’t think are significant. Here’s five ways to improve your resume now:

1. List all your job skills

Skills are skills, not responsibilities. That means writing code. It means process proficiency. It means accounting or Emergency Room procedures or commercial baking of pies. These are skills used in your work.

But there are also “soft” skills — how well you play in the sandbox with others. You’ve seen the job descriptions — they all want team players and people who work well in a fast-changing environment (who doesn’t?). But if you don’t list those skills, the skills won’t match up to the job description and the fewer the skills that match the job description on the resume, the less chance there is of getting the interview.

So list all of your job skills.

2. List all of the software you work with on the job

Start with listing the individual Microsoft Office programs you use — especially the less used ones by the rest of the population if you work with them — Visio and Microsoft Access, for example.

Then list all of the software programs you use on the job. Most knowledge workers don’t think this through right — that stuff you do all day on the computer uses software. So what if the billing system you use is the “Best Billing” system — you list it. Why? Because if you will need to use a billing system in the position you are after, listing it means you already know how to use a billing system and now you will only need to adjust to how the new program works. Not learn the whole thing.

Even if it is a proprietary software system built by your company, you list it because now the person reading your resume can see you’ve used “billing” systems and can now ask how yours works as part of an interview.

3. List your business results in each position

People hire people to get stuff done. Your resume is the first place that shows you can produce results from your work. You need to quantify the business results — less cost, more revenue, greater productivity. Percentages and dollars really help here.

If you are not showing your work can produce business results helping a manager reach business goals on your resume, why would they hire you? Answer: you won’t get the interview. Or, if you do, most of the interview will be about finding out if you can produce any results with all those stellar job skills you say you have on the resume.

Help the person see your results.

4. It doesn’t matter how long your resume is, but the first page better be killer

Most people don’t have a great first page of the resume. People looking at your resume can decide to interview you or not in less than 20-seconds. It doesn’t help you to have a great fourth page of a resume when the person won’t make it past the first page.

I have a specific format I recommend for my resume customers that gives you a powerful first page that will help the person make it past those critical 20-seconds and on to the rest of your resume.

5. Use industry-standard job titles as the main job title for your position

Your company may call you a Data Janitor III — and you note that somewhere in the position description — but the bold part should be the industry standard title — Database Administrator. Why? Well, have you ever seen a job description looking for a Data Janitor III? No. Job descriptions use standard industry titles and you want to ensure your job title matches the search criteria the company is searching to hire.

Or, do YOU search for Data Janitor III positions in job descriptions on boards or web sites? No, you get no hits back on your search. But Database Administrator? Yes, lots. Same principle: use standard descriptions in your resume so it matches the standard descriptions companies use when searching for a candidate.

Resumes, remember, only get you the interview. I can help you in starting the career transition by helping you with your resume.

In the meantime, these five actions will help make your resume better. And share this with your friends by clicking on your favorite social media platform.

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About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.