The point of your professional resume is to get an interview; but what if that isn’t happening?
If you’ve ever:
- Been automatically rejected from a job
- Submitted a resume and never heard back
- Received a generic email response saying they moved forward with more qualified candidates
…Then there’s probably an issue with your resume.
To make sure this doesn’t happen as much anymore, I’m going to share the top 3 most important things you can do to your resume to stand out and get more interviews.
I’m career coach Kate and for more than 8 years I’ve been helping early career and mid-level professionals land great offers to make money doing what they enjoy.
Keep reading if you want the 3 easy steps to create a resume that gets you more interviews.
Why This is Important for Your Job Search
One of the most useful skills you can have while job searching is being able to edit your resume effectively. Knowing how to do this will:
- Make your job search faster and easier
- Save you hundreds of dollars because you’ll never have to hire a resume writer
- Allow your authentic voice to shine through
- Lead to more interviews AND offers
Get These Results
I can speak from personal experience about how vital this skill is:
After graduating from college, I applied to 40+ positions and didn’t get a single interview. My resumes were abysmal.
4 years later, I applied to 30 positions, received 5 interviews and 3 offers in the span of only 6 weeks. The difference between my resume now and back then is HUGE. The format is clear and readable, it’s concise and it shows off my strengths.
How I Help
Now, using everything I learned, my private coaching clients on average apply to 10 or fewer positions with a result of 1-3 offers. They go from feeling lost and stagnant to confident about their job prospects. Having a professional resume is just one of the ways to get closer to an offer doing a role you enjoy.
Those who receive a free resume review through my Confident Career Society Facebook group and watch the trainings there see a 2-3 fold increase in interview requests. Most of them started with zero! You can imagine how hopeful it must feel to see such an increase.
Use Your Professional Resume to Stand Out
At this point, I’ve reviewed hundreds of resumes in my career. The 3 steps I outline below focus on elements that I don’t see used consistently across the board but make a huge difference when you’re trying to get interview requests.
There are certainly a lot of other elements that I could bring up as well, but I wanted to highlight these 3 in particular because they really are the most vital. And truth be told, back when I was first writing my own resumes, I didn’t do ANY of these.
The tips I’m sharing today are ones I learned while a career counselor for 7 years and have perfected now being a career coach since 2020.
Let’s jump in!
Step #1: Change task-oriented bullet points into achievements
Look at your resume and see how many task-oriented bullet points you have listed.
What is a task? It’s simply a statement of what you did in each role or the responsibilities listed in your job description.
Tasks sound like…
- “Filed buyer documents for realtors”
- “Provided safety training to staff”
- “Assisted with writing the company newsletter”
Now turn them into achievements. To do this, you need each of them to include a result, outcome, or impact. At least 50-60% of the time, these achievements should also include a numerical value or metric. This gives a concrete example of your value to a potential employer.
When you do this, the examples I listed now become:
- “Filed an average of 230 buyer documents daily for realtors to streamline the application process”
- “Facilitated 5 weekly safety trainings for 125 staff members to shorten critical incident response times”
- “Wrote a 4-page company newsletter monthly for the last 2 years which increased employee engagement”
The concern I hear most often from job seekers and clients is about the addition of metrics. They often say “but I don’t know exact numbers; I don’t want to be wrong, I don’t want to inflate them. What if I end up lying?”
This is where you simply choose not to worry about it. Instead, listen to what your gut is saying about your past experiences. Look at your job description: what tasks to do you do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis? Start tracking quantities now or changes you’ve seen happen as a result of completing those tasks and fulfilling your job responsibilities.
Give yourself permission to make a guestimate about what you’ve achieved. If that guestimate causes you to feel tense or nauseous, then maybe scale back. But what you don’t want to do, is shy away from taking credit where you made an impact. So own it!
Step #2: Include keywords
What are keywords? These are the individual words or 2-3 word phrases from a job posting that best describe the skills and qualifications an employer considers most important for a candidate to have.
While a vast majority of keywords will come directly from the job description, you can also include keywords pulled from the company website or used commonly in the industry.
These are the words you want to have included in your resume as a way to get through applicant tracking systems (ATS). ATS algorithms scan resumes to see how well a person matches the experience and qualifications the company desires for the role. Unfortunately, when you don’t write your resume in a way that aligns with the algorithm, it doesn’t matter how qualified you are for a position; you may still be thrown out and not considered.
So many people forget this step. Including keywords:
- Gives context to your resume.
- It positions you as a candidate that “gets it.”
- It says to someone “I know what I’m talking about.”
- It allows an employer to see you in the role.
You need to get through the ATS so you can have your resume reviewed by an actual person and have a higher chance of being interviewed. Hot Tip: There are websites you can use to check your resume against a job description and have it rated, telling you how well the two match. In addition to a manual review, the websites I use are:
A “good” rating is typically 80% or above. This best ensures your resume is getting through the ATS. If you’ve tried everything and haven’t been able to reach that percentage, a 50% or higher is acceptable and has still yielded results for my clients.
Step #3: Edit your resume to ONLY include information that’s relevant to the position for which you’re applying
When I give someone feedback on their resume, one of the biggest things I tell them is to cut out the bullet points that don’t apply to the position for which they’re applying. Typically this is met with the statement “but I’m afraid to leave out something important.” I promise, if you’re closely following the job description, only focusing on your corresponding or transferable skills and qualifications, then it’s unlikely for that to happen. Hot tip: This is where a master resume comes in handy.
There should be absolutely no extraneous information on your resume:
- NO extra words
- NO achievements from out of left field
- NO mention of skills that have nothing to do with the competencies of the position
…You want absolutely nothing to get in the way of showing how your experience makes you an excellent fit for the position.
Plus, adding extra information reduces readability. It makes your resume longer than it needs to and it doesn’t let it make as much of an impact. One of the best ways you can stand out is when the words and achievements are targeted specifically to the position, industry, and company. It means your strengths and the potential results you can get for the employer will be obvious.
Bonus Job Application Tip
ALWAYS follow-up after submitting an application. This is another way to get noticed by the people responsible for hiring and can increase your chances of an interview even more.
The three things you can do to make your resume stand out:
- Turn your tasks into achievements
- Use keywords
- Only include relevant information.
Make sure to save or pin this post to easily find it again! And join The Confident Career Society if you’d like resume help; as a member you get a free resume review.