Your resume needs to use the right words to call potential employers to action. The right words should scream: HIRE ME!
So you finally bit the bullet after months of unsuccessful job hunting and got your resume professionally done. Let me be the first to congratulate you. The days of stressing over how to address that awkward employment gap or how to make your experience sound relevant to your dream job are over, right? Well, they should be if you hired a talented resume writer. However, there is no writer out there with enough rabbit’s foot in their ink to craft a resume magical enough to suit every job you want to apply for.
So, the question becomes, Why did I bother? Well, let’s not get dramatic. There are several obvious benefits to getting your resume professionally written. To point out a few:
1. Resume documents should employ flawless spelling and grammar. There is a particular composition style used in resume writing that can sound awkward and unintelligible when written by someone with little to no experience.
2. It’s not enough to write an error-free resume. You have 1–2 pages to compel the hiring staff to contact you. Your resume needs to use the right words to call potential employers to action. The right words should scream: HIRE ME!
3. In addition to using the right words, resumes should include the right information. It’s sometimes challenging to look at a list of your own professional activities and accomplishments and objectively decide what information to embolden and what information to completely strike out. With no attachment to your personal work history, a professional writer can make those decisions for you.
And the list goes on. The point is: Resume writing is a profession for a reason, and it’s not a job for your cousin, Mike, who is a really good writer and is just working at the pet store until he can figure out what to do with his psychology degree.
Once your resume is professionally written, you’ve already put yourself in a substantially stronger position in the job application process than those who called on Mike. However, as anyone who has done a little shopping around for the right resume writer will know, the market is oversaturated. And there are tons of other applicants who have also had their resume professionally written.
So, what now? How do you set yourself apart from the rest?
Whenever you come across a sentence, phrase, or word in a job description that makes you feel like a particularly qualified candidate, make note of it verbatim.
You do so by catering your professional resume document to every job you apply for. And unlike composing the perfect resume, this can be done pretty easily and by almost anyone who is willing to invest a little time to give themselves that much needed edge in today’s competitive job market.
The first step is to recognize the three parts of every job description: 1) The Job Brief; 2) Responsibilities; and 3) Requirements.
The Job Brief is the initial paragraph in any job description. It is easily distinguishable as it is often written in a block of text rather than in bullet or list form like the Responsibilities and Requirements sections. The Job Brief provides you with more general information about the company and how the role fits in the broader scope of that company. This is often followed by a generic description of the job the company is looking to fill.
The Responsibilities section describes the position in more detail and is usually presented in bullet form. Here, you would ideally find the main accountability of the position, the teams you would work with, the management you would be reporting to, and any other specific responsibilities of the role. It is likely that many of these bullet points will resemble the structure of those under the jobs on your own resume.
The last part of job descriptions is usually the Requirements section. This is where the employer lists the educational and professional backgrounds their ideal candidate would have. It often also includes the hard and soft skills relevant to the position as well as the technical proficiency and computer literacy necessary to fulfill the role successfully.
Now that you’re familiar with the three parts of a job description, it’s time to adjust your resume for the position. While reading through job descriptions, we often read points that make us think, I would be perfect for this job, or at least a really strong candidate. Whenever you come across a sentence, phrase, or word in a job description that makes you feel like a particularly qualified candidate, make note of it verbatim (I’ll discuss the relevance of this later). Do so for the entire job description while keeping your notes divided based on which of the three sections of the job description they came from.
Once you’ve extracted all the information from the job description that matches your experience, it’s time to work it into your professional resume document. How do you do that?
The more the terms used on your resume match those used in the job description, the more your chances of breaking through the ATS barriers used by recruiters and employers are increased.
Well, first, take the information you extracted from the Job Brief section. Read each piece of extracted text separately and look for where its mentioned on your resume. When you locate the point on your resume, change the wording to more similarly match that of the job posting, all while respecting intellectual property of course. The goal is to incorporate as many key words and phrases as possible that are included in the job description into your resume. Not only does this make it easier for the hiring committee to see how well your experience matches the position by putting your resume in terms they’re already familiar with, it also assists your resume in surpassing the barriers of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).
ATS are automated filtering systems used by employers to rank candidates’ resume documents from most to least relevant to the position. The more the terms used on your resume match those used in the job description, the more your chances of breaking through the ATS barriers used by recruiters and employers are increased.
Another way to improve your resume’s visibility for each job you apply to is to look at the Responsibilities section. The keywords in this section are usually skills such as “Attention to detail”. You want to go through this section and pull out every skill that applies to you and then add it to the Skills section of your resume. It can also help to change the wording to match the job description. For example, your resume might read “Detail-Oriented” and the job description may read “Attention to Detail”. You may think, Well, they’ll get the idea. Well, they won’t get the idea if your resume doesn’t get ranked respectively after being filtered through the ATS. You want to use the relevant skills listed in the job description verbatim to avoid being overlooked.
Lastly, the Requirements section. In addition to filtering through this section and ensuring your resume includes each relevant point listed in it, you also want to ensure the requirements you do meet are highlighted as early as possible in your resume. In the first section of your resume, your Executive Summary, Professional Profile, or Objective (hopefully not), you want to make sure these points are mentioned. For example, if the Requirements section states that the company needs a motivated Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering, and you have that designation, you want to let the employer know as soon as possible. The first line of your resume could read, “Highly motivated Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering with over three years…”
This process may sound daunting but the benefits far outweigh the efforts. The more you tailor your resume to specific job postings, the more likely you are to surpass ATS and captivate the hiring team. You’ll also have an advantage over those hundreds of applicants who’ve also had their resume professionally written but who simply rely on it in its professional yet generic form to suit every job they apply for.