Have you ever made a word cloud? The most popular version of a word (or tag) cloud generator is Wordle, but there are many other options out there. Teachers love creating word clouds for visual learners because it helps the student see the most frequently used vocabulary in a text. But you can use your favorite word cloud generator to compare the frequency of words in a job opening and your resume.
Here’s why I think this is a good idea: you’ll quickly see if any words in your resume match the words in the ad.
Don't believe the resume summary hype--a resume objective statement is key to the effectiveness of your resume. A summary of qualifications causes you to miss out on an important opportunity. In the video below, I'll tell you why you need a resume objective statement and how recruiters and hiring managers see them.
When you are writing your resume and cover letters, it is very easy to make mistakes just because there are so many versions and corrections (we writers deal with this, too). Even if you are a competent writer, it still is a good idea to carefully read your work once more before sending it off to be read by the people you want to impress. Here’s how to avoid some common mistakes in writing:
Keep track of grammar when changing a sentence. If you change the noun from singular to plural, for instance, remember to change the sentence structure to match.
Don’t rely on automated spellcheckers alone to catch mistakes. Your, you’re, their, they’re, there, two, too, and to are all words which are spelled correctly and won’t show up as an error when used in the wrong way. “Manager” was one I always misspelled as “Manger”. They are both words, so spell check never caught it. Luckily, I’m hyper diligent about checking and rechecking how I spell Manager– plus there is a little tool in MS Word that lets you auto correct things like that, so whenever I type Manger, it automatically changes it to Manager. Awesome.
Avoid the automatic word-finishing features on your word processing program for the same reason. You want your brain to be in control.
Communication is all about getting across barriers to connect. How many times have you suddenly realized that you do not understand what someone means when they use a familiar word? Or have you experienced this: you want a solution to a particular problem and the salesman keeps insisting you need a solution to a problem you don’t have?
You can speak the right language and address the right question, by understanding the process and perspective of the employer. Your resume has to pass through a couple of filters before you get called in for the interview. Most employers will use an electronic filter first, an applicant tracking system. Then the filtered list of potential candidates will be read by the recruiter, who scans for more detail. Finally, those resumes passing these filters is put on the desk of the person who determines the best fit for the job and schedules interviews.
Writing a resume is an important part of your job search. Not every job is a desk job, but every job involves some of the same skills and when you can show on your resume that you have honed these skills, potential employers will look again at your information even if you lack “experience” in the particular job you are applying for.
The ability to comprehend instructions, both verbal and written, is basic to every single job description. Equally important is the ability to express yourself in ways that get your thoughts across clearly. If you can’t communicate effectively, it doesn’t matter what the rest of your skill set is because you won’t be able to explain or show it. The way your resume is written is the first indication of your communication skills. Paying someone else to write your resume still shows that you value professional-level communication and know how to access it.
Writing a resume can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to let it get to you. There are many different types of resumes and many ways to write them, but here are some tips that will help get you started so you can have an amazing resume with less stress and frustration.
Focus on your strengths:People are not perfect. They have flaws, but potential employers know that. They are not looking for your flaws. They are looking for your strengths and the skills that make you stand out. Don’t make things harder on yourself. Take the things you are the best at and put a lot of focus on those things when writing your resume.
A resume is your first opportunity to sell yourself to future employers. Use this opportunity to make a good impression. Unfortunately, many people make common and simple to fix mistakes that keep them from making that good impression. Here are some common errors to look for before you send your resume to an employer.
Avoid spelling errors, typos, and poor grammar. This is simple, yet it will make you look unprofessional and incompetent.
A common error in resume writing is changing from first to third person midway through your resume. Stay consistent throughout your resume writing.
Another common resume problem that you should avoid is creating a resume that reads like a job description. Keep the focus on your skills, accomplishments and how your accomplishments were achieved.
Avoid creating a resume that is too long. Put yourself in the position of the person reading your resume. Most future employers will be reading a multitude of resumes at one time. One way to avoid a too long resume is to avoid providing personal information that isn’t relevant to the job. If your resume is too long, they are sure to not go through the entire resume.
An entry-level resume is the beginning of your career, so you might think you don’t have much to offer. You couldn’t be more wrong! Many things are part of the assets you offer to a potential employer, and work history is just one of them; an important part, but not the only part.
Do your homework before you write your resume. Take advantage of the wisdom you can pick up from the experts. Look at what resumes typically do and do not have on them, and make a list of what could be on yours.
Ask some people what you are good at. Don’t just ask your friends, talk to teachers and other folks you know. Are you part of any volunteer efforts? In any clubs? You are looking for things you take for granted, like the ability to figure out how to do things on a computer. You’d be surprised how many people do not know tech stuff.
Do you know what “buzzword” makes me think of? Big bugs with wings that beat so fast the individual sounds blur together. In a resume, buzzwords are words used so often the reader stops seeing you as an individual. It can be tricky, though, because you have to figure out what’s been overused to that point of overkill (i.e. “detail-oriented, or “responsible for” … just DON’T DO IT).
Buzzwords vs Keywords
Keywords are essential in your resume because they are the phrases or individual words the screening system is looking for. There is a lot of quality information on keywords and how to use them on this blog and on other career blogs. Basically, a keyword is the information the searcher is hoping to find. If an employer wants to hire someone who knows Microsoft Office and can come in to start work without training, they are looking for “Microsoft Office” on your resume. If you have the skill they are looking for, say so. Tell them how well you know it, too. “Uses Microsoft Office daily” implies competency.
Most of the time, a job interview will consist of you answering questions. But most interviewers will also ask if you have any questions, and it’s a good idea to be prepared to ask the right kind. You don’t have to use my phrasing, but think through why these questions are good to ask and how you can ask something similar:
“The job description cites these responsibilities. How are those responsibilities filled in a typical workday?” This gives you an idea about the work load and expectations involved.
“What do you hope to see this position accomplish for your company?” A question like this gives you an opportunity to hear what their goals are for this particular job and get an idea of the long term plans you will be a part of.
Some will tell you that nobody reads cover letters any more, so there’s no good reason to write them. But there actually are very good reasons to write a professional, researched, compelling cover letter, and here’s the top reason why:
It is your opening argument that the attached resume is worth taking the time to read.
There are many helpful hints on writing your cover letter and it is a good idea to read up on this skill before you start drafting yours. Then start by taking the specific job description you are applying for and matching your qualifications to that description. Find the company’s goals and mission statement. Can you see how they mesh with the job and how you could be the best candidate for that opening?
If possible, discover who will be reading the resumes and use their name in the opening. Present your case for their consideration by a well-written and concise explanation of how your qualifications fit their needs and their goals. Reference any personal recommendations you have within the organization. Think of who will read your letter, what their goals are, and how to show them you can be the one to meet those goals.
Recruiters and employers sift through stacks of resumes very quickly, so your resume needs to grab attention fast. What makes a resume stand out and get you the interview?
First, your resume must be easy to read (bullet points, not paragraphs) and error-free. Mistakes will get your resume dumped fast. Beyond these basics, here are 3 simple ways to rev up your resume:
1 - Quantify Your Accomplishments
Sales resumes should absolutely, without question, show your performance numbers--sales numbers, rankings, etc. But even if you aren't remotely connected to sales, quantifying your accomplishments (using numbers, dollars, and percentages to describe what you've done) will grab attention and show that you'll be a great asset. (See How to Write a Resume That POPS)
Some of us liked math class, and some of us did not (I am in the latter group). But like it or not, numbers are essential in your career, from resume to retirement and everywhere in between. Job performance numbers are particularly useful for at least three reasons:
they look good on your resume
they help with salary negotiations
and they give you confidence
Performance Numbers Validate Your Resume
When you can state that your work for a past employer resulted in a 15% increase in sales, that is an authoritative statement. It had better be a true statement that you can back up with more information, too! The fact is. illustrating your success with hard numbers always gets a good ROI on your resume because it is specific proof of your worth. Employers looking for a good return on their investment in hiring you will be impressed.
One of the red flags an interviewer looks for is inconsistency in your information. If you have updated your professional resume, take the time to look at your cover letter and online information carefully to make sure they all match. I’m not saying to keep a falsehood consistent because lying is never a good idea, but I am saying that if you are not updating everything when you refresh one thing it eventually will look like you lied because the records are inconsistent.
This is an easy trap to fall into because there are so many places your professional information can be found. If you have recently taken a seminar on a specialty in your field, you may remember to put it on your resume but forget about your LinkedIn profile. Do that three times and your online brand is lacking three important pieces of information about you. Do that ten times, and an interviewer will wonder what’s going on.
If your resume is not getting the results you’d expect based on your skills and experience, maybe it needs to be evaluated. All the information could be perfect; perfectly bland. Here’s a fast way to evaluate your resume, and it’s based on the way it will be evaluated when it reaches that VIP looking for someone to fill a position:
Pick up your resume and scan it for 30 seconds, then cover it and write down what you remember.
Actually, thirty seconds might be longer than most HR people look at it, but they have developed serious speed reading skills. What do you remember about your resume? What stands out?
Now consider that your resume is something you are familiar with — and it was probably hard to remember what you said about yourself. Imagine what it’s like to read through hundreds of resumes in an attempt to find the best candidates to call in for interviews! These people don’t know you, and they do know what they need in the position.