In my time as an HR Manager, many resumes would land on my desk, 7 pages long, written in Comic Sans 8 point font and a personal profile that stated the candidate wants to work in a ‘large corporate environment’.
When I am working at a smaller business, I sigh and shake my fist at the ‘copy and paste’ job that is open in front of my eyes. And internet forums.
You know the ones, where everyone has an opinion on everything, including resumes.
Some people say to keep your resume to 2 pages. Others say you *must* include every little positive brownie badge.
Then, others say a quirky font will have you ‘stand out from the crowd’. Others have a hernia considering anything but Times New Roman.
So what do most job-seekers do? Confused, they create a resume that incorporates ALL the advice they’ve read, and end up with a resume that lands in the trash.
How can you maximise your chances of a HR Manager thinking you are a great candidate for their job? There are a few nifty tricks job-seekers use to ensure their application gets shortlisted. These tips will help give you an advantage:
Do you already belong?
Have a look at your chosen organisation’s website. What kind of language do they use? Is it formal and professional, or more laid back and colloquial?
What font do they use? What is the ‘style’ they project?
Made a note of all that? Now, start to feed your findings through your documents.
Use a similar font and try to replicate the kind of words and phrases that are used on their corporate website.
When an HR Manager is looking through a pile of applications, these small things can show that you are already a cultural fit and that you ‘belong.’ It’s like subliminal messaging – it can give you enough of a competitive edge over other candidates to really make a difference.
Capabilities! Capabilities! Capabilities!
A job description or job ad usually lists ‘Key Requirements’ or a ‘Person Specifications’. THIS IS YOUR BEST FRIEND. These details are telling you exactly what the HR Manager is looking for; ‘effective communication, ‘problem solving and analysis’, ‘MS Office skills.’
Get these ‘keywords’ into your resume and cover letter and you immediately maximise the chances of your application being put forward to the next stage of the process.
Also, when recruiters are ‘CV Mining’ (looking on jobsites for resumes of people that may be suitable for the role they are sourcing) they tend to use keyword searches.
They’ll type in ‘Prince2’ or ‘people management’, or other specific terms that match the requirements.
If you are a Project Manager with Prince2 and people management experience, make sure this is in your resume somewhere – otherwise you won’t show up in search results.
What Do You Really Like To Do?
‘I am a good team player and also work well alone.’
‘I enjoy number-crunching and have excellent literacy skills.’
Sometimes candidates try to cover all bases, to show that they are an ‘all-rounder’. Unfortunately, this can be interpreted as ‘If I list every skill on the planet, hopefully one of them will stick. I’m not actually sure what my skills or preferences are.’
Finding a new role is a two-way process. If a job description says that you will work alone for long periods of time and your preference is to work in a team, you may end up miserable, no matter what the salary is.
Identify what you are good at and what you enjoy doing, and your application will come across stronger.
It will show that you have thought about what you want from your career and are committed to one path. This is attractive to recruiters and employers who are looking for employees that will be committed.
In my time as a HR Manager and Recruiter, when a resume would land on my desk that had followed the above advice, I didn’t sigh. Instead, I put them on the ‘Yes’ pile! And that’s where you want to be.