4 Ways to Get Noticed for the Job You Want (With Video)
January 13, 2020
Finding a great job starts with a great resume. Easier said than done, right? Especially since recruiters spend an average of six seconds reading a resume—less time than it took you to read these sentences.
If you want to get noticed for the job you want, you need to craft a resume that’s worthy of more than six seconds.
Whether you’re fresh out of school or making a career change, use these pro tips from Writing a Resume with Stacey Gordon to showcase your skills, stand out from the crowd, and land that dream job.
#1 Be the answer to your employer’s problem
For every job opening that an employer posts, there’s a gap they’re trying to fill, a problem they’re trying to solve.
“Solve their problem and your resume will rise to the top of the call for interview pile,” says Gordon.
Let’s say there’s a job description for an HR Manager. It states that the candidate must be able to align with the shared services of Training, Talent Acquisition, Benefits, Compensation and Payroll. It also mentions that the company is “in growth mode,” and that they’re “undergoing a number of change management initiatives.”
When you read between the lines, you can infer the company needs significant help creating a cohesive culture as it grows. So use your Objective to focus the reader on why you are the answer to their problem.
Think of it like working a puzzle: what clues can you find about the company’s needs in the job description, and how do your skills map back?
In this example, the company likely needs someone who:
Has specific experience across multiple areas of HR
Is great at managing people
Has previous experience working in a company that’s rapidly expanded
Can multi-task and is flexible to roll with uncertainty
So your Objective may read:
"As an HR professional fluent in Spanish, I am seeking a management role that aligns my extensive experience in change management in a manufacturing environment with my knowledge of operations and my Six Sigma training.”
#2 Use job description keywords liberally
To decide what to include in Professional Experience and Summary of Qualifications, go back to the job description.
Look for words like “must” (must be bi-lingual in Spanish), “strong” (strong talent acquisition skills), and “minimum” (minimum of five years of HR experience), which scream: Pay attention to me!
To capture the reader’s attention, make sure every requirement and recommended quality appears at least once on your resume. And put the most important and relevant information within the first two bullet points.
While the job description provides all the important items you need to address, don’t stop there.
“If you really want to position yourself for the job you want, you need to give them what they're looking for and then add what they didn't ask for,” says Gordon.
Check out similar job postings on LinkedIn from other companies for inspiration on additional skills you possess that you may also want to include.
What if you don’t have the skills to match those keywords? Gordon advises moving on—look for other jobs that warrant your time and energy.
#3 Be smart about how you present education
“When it comes to education, it's up to you to make the case that you meet the requirements of the job and your resume is the tool to help you do that,” says Gordon. But presenting your education is not as straightforward as it may seem.
Gordon offers tips for a variety of scenarios:
You have a college degree and work experience: put your education at the bottom of the resume. (If you’ve been out of school for awhile, It’s okay to leave the dates off.)
You are a recent college grad with no work experience: put your education after your objective. (Include graduation date.)
You completed a new degree that helps you transition into a new industry: put your education near the top.
You are enrolled in college courses and haven't completed a degree: include your education on the resume with an anticipated graduation date. (Write “anticipated” so you don’t give the impression of having already graduated.)
You started a degree program but didn’t complete it: list the dates of attendance and highlight specific courses completed relevant to the job—e.g. “first year courses completed,” “50% of courses completed towards accounting major,” etc. (Use your cover letter to provide more explanation as to why you didn’t finish.)
You don’t have a college degree, but did graduate with a high school diploma or high school equivalency: include any alternative training (e.g. certification programs, seminars, conferences, online learning, self-directed study, etc.)
#4 Showcase volunteer work as WORK
People often confuse membership in a group and volunteer work, but they’re not one and the same and should be separate sections on your resume.
If you’re paying dues to an organization and attending one or two events during the year, list it as part of your ‘Membership & Affiliations’ section. Your involvement in an industry-based organization shows that you’re interested in furthering your experience and networking.
Volunteer work is a different story—it’s a way to strategically position yourself to get the job you want by showing versatility, leadership, and additional skill sets. Treat your volunteer responsibilities like a job, and include them on the resume in their own section.
Maybe as a board member of a nonprofit, you created a marketing strategy that increased membership. Or you started a local chapter of an organization. Managerial skills, fundraising skills, accounting skills—they’re all important to include.
The volunteer work section is extremely valuable when attempting to make a career change, or when starting out in a new job without any actual work experience. You can use your experience in a volunteer role as a substitute.
“It's very difficult to motivate people to complete tasks without actually paying them,” says Gordon. “Providing examples of how you manage this speaks volumes about your character.”
For more advice on how to stand out from the crowd, including managing your online presence and conducting your job search, watch Writing a Resume with Stacey Gordon.
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