The vast majority of resumes are ineffective. They look like every other resume and fail to give a good reason why the job seeker should be hired. If your resume isn’t getting much of a response, it probably needs a lot of work. You have a few options: hire a resume writer, become a resume writing expert so you can fix if yourself, or focus on the quick and easy changes you can make right now. This last option won’t perfect your resume, but it will help you make a lot of progress fast.
I’ve put together a list of the five easiest, fastest and most effective fixes. This list is far from being complete. It isn’t meant to be. It is just the changes you can make fast that will give you the most improvement.
Your resume should create a clear picture of who you are. Most resumes are just a listing of facts – names, dates and responsibilities. To be effective, you want to frame the image you create. Do this by adding a summary at the top of your resume that defines who you are, the value you bring and an idea of the type of position you are pursuing. Only half of all the resumes have an objective statement and even less provide a compelling positioning statement that sells the potential of the job seeker. Adding a couple sentences at the top of your resume is the fastest and possibly most significant improvement you can make.
After you add a positioning statement, include a bullet point with an accomplishment. Often, I like to see two or three accomplishments at the top of a resume and a lot more scattered throughout the work experience of the job seeker. If you have a resume devoid of accomplishments (this is very common), it could take a lot of time and work to put accomplishments throughout your resume. Don’t let this discourage you. Start with one accomplishment and put it at the top right under your positioning statement. If you have accomplishments on your resume, put one to three of them at the top. The beginning of your resume becomes an executive summary that provides a statement of who you are as a professional and an accomplishment that reinforces this.
Within the descriptions of the positions you have held, you probably list a combination of responsibilities and accomplishments. You want to draw the reader to youraccomplishments – they are the details that will separate you from your competition. Emphasize your accomplishments by grouping them separately from your responsibilities. One format to consider is to put your responsibilities in a single, short paragraph and put accomplishments in a bulleted list. Most people are drawn to the bullets more than a block of text in paragraph form.
To emphasize the bulleted information even more, provide a bolded title for each bullet. The title should be short and should summarize the theme of the bullet. For example, I have added a title to each of the five bullets in this list. I could have just bulleted the five paragraphs without a title. Visually, this would have been much less appealing. (Note: If your resume doesn’t use bullets and is written in large blocks of text, change this first. It is unlikely that long paragraphs will be read. Break the text into small blocks.)
There are over 20 million businesses in the U.S. No matter how many a hiring manager knows, the number is still a very small percentage of the total. It is likely many hiring managers will be unfamiliar with some of your employers. Provide a short sentence summarizing the background of the company, including the industry and size of the company.
If you act on all five of these recommendations, your resume will improve significantly. All five can be addressed quickly… for many people, only an hour or two can make a huge difference.