Tips for Resume Writing During These Trying Times!

These are very trying times we are living in. You were working one day and bam! Out of work the next. Your employer may have decided to shutter their doors for good, or deemed your work not essential to their reopening. Now you need to look for a job.  Before we share with you the resources that are available at Heights Libraries online, let’s take a moment and discuss some important tips for a successful resume.

First Impressions

When looking for a job, it’s important to make a great first impression. Your resume and cover letter are usually a potential employer’s first look at you, and these documents can make or break your job search. But keep in mind that this isn’t your autobiography! This is meant to give a hiring manager just enough information about you that they feel compelled to call you in and meet you face to face. The last thing you want to do is give them something that’s messy, confusing, or unorganized.  Remember – when writing a resume, review it yourself, have someone else review it, and have a third party review it for mistakes and typos.

Keep It Simple 

A clean, simple layout is best. Use clear section headings and make them stand out with bold type and capital letters.  Make sure there’s plenty of white space—an overstuffed resume is hard to read.

Skip the fancy graphics, pie charts, and illustrations, which don’t play well with resume-scanning software.  Do not include any personal information beyond your address, email, and phone number. That means do not include your age, date of birth, race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation, and the names and ages of your spouse and children (if you have any). No pictures of yourself or your family!

Summary

Forget the Objective. Unless this is your first resume or you are fresh out of school looking for your first job, use a Summary!  But why a summary?

A Summary Statement explains what value you can bring to them. In short, it can help you get noticed faster. Many hiring managers have to go through dozens of resumes every day. In fact, they usually only give each resume about six seconds of their time. A clear, professional Summary is something that will catch their attention from the get-go. And if it’s written well, it will compel them to read the rest of the resume.

When writing a Summary Statement, think about your “elevator pitch.” You know, if you stepped into an elevator and saw the hiring manager who holds the keys to your dream job, how would you sell yourself during that 30-second elevator ride?

Consider the strengths, experiences, and accomplishments that are unique to you and write each of them down as you brainstorm. Using the job posting, determine what value you can bring to the company.

A Summary should be a lead-in sentence that summarizes your background followed by 3-5 bullet points that describe your strongest skills. Again, let the employer know what you can do for them.

Spotlight Key Skills 

Put your Skills Section at the top of your resume after your Summary. Make sure the skills you list match the requirements of the job you’re applying to. Not sure what those are? Read the job description carefully to see which skills, programs, and keywords are mentioned. If there’s a requirement or responsibility listed in the job description that you’ve performed in a current or previous role, it should be on your resume.

Now more than ever, each resume you send out MUST be tailored to be specific to the position you are applying for…. Let us say that again… Now more than ever each resume you send out MUST be tailored to be specific to the position you are applying for!

Key Words 

How important can a bunch of words really be?

Roughly 70 percent of job applications get disqualified by applicant tracking systems without being read. Your resume will often be screened by an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). This system has inbuilt software that filters the different applications that come in.

The recruiter writes a list of keywords in the ATS system. These are the job requirements. The ATS then scans your applications for those specific keywords that the recruiter plugged in. If you don’t have the right amount of them, your resume gets thrown in the software void and never reaches the recruiter.

So how do you pick the keywords the ATS and the recruiter are looking for?

First, scan the job ad for keywords. If your resume keywords match the ones given in the job ad, you have a higher chance of getting an interview. There are two main categories of keywords the recruiters or managers are looking for: (1) job-related skills and (2) action verbs. Job-related keywords describe your primary skills (both hard and soft) and your core qualifications for this particular job, e.g. Computer Science, Social Media, Photoshop, Critical-thinking, etc.

Action verbs, on the other hand, demonstrate action: They show what you have accomplished and how you have succeeded in your previous experience, e.g. managed, developed, planned, maximized, etc. So, in your resume scan, you should be looking for both job-related keywords and action verbs.

Once you’ve pinpointed all relevant keywords from the job description, it’s time to put them down in your own resume. But which section do they go under, exactly?

Generally:

  • Job-related keywords go under your “Skills”
  • Action verbs will help you with your job descriptions in the “Work Experience” section.
  • Education requirements will be reflected in your “Education” section.

For more information, check out the following resources on our website:

You can find our Resume Tool Kit on the Learning @ Heights Library page, under the list of Materials and Handouts. In the Resume Tool Kit, you will find MS Word documents for a Resume Template, Cover Letter Template and Reference Template, plus PDFs of our Resume Writing Tips and Uploading and Downloading Files.

For more help, please fill out our Online Reference form. Please choose Tech and Digital Resources and we will answer your question as soon as possible.

To close, we would like to use a modified quote from Red Green:  “Remember, we’re pulling for ya. We’re all in this together! Keep your stick on the ice!”

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