Now that we know what to avoid when putting your resume together, let’s look at some essential elements that will ensure that your resume not only stands out, but that it creates an urgency on the part of the hiring manager to call you. As you will see, by following just a few rules you will be able to craft a compelling resume that instantly sets you up as the perfect candidate for any job you choose to apply for. Moreover, by taking just a little bit of time to customize your resume to the specific company you are applying to (it’s easy once you know how), you will make the hiring manager feel like your resume was written just for him/her. And that’s why you will be one of the first candidates they reach out to for an interview.
Number One: So, let’s start at the beginning. The first thing you want to put at the top of your resume is your complete contact information. This consists of four things:
• Your full name
• Your mailing address
• Your phone number
• Your email address
While this information may seem like a no-brainer, you will once again be surprised by how many people leave out either their phone number or email address or both! Leaving out this information makes a bad impression on the hiring manager, as you can imagine. Including it at the top saves the hiring manager from searching through your resume hoping to locate it, and it also makes it easy for him/her to reach out to you.
Number Two: Keep the formatting simple. This point could easily have been under the “What to avoid when writing your resume,” but I wanted to put it here as you actually get ready to write it. In a nutshell: Keep it plain and simple. Avoid the following:
Make sure you use text only:
• No shading or lines or borders
• No graphics, logos or fields
• No templates or PDF’s
• No headers or footers or page numbers
• No underlining or special characters
The reason for this is that whenever you submit your email electronically, there is a big chance that your formatting will get improperly transmitted or delivered, and this can easily lead to instantly disqualifying you. It has been estimated that as many as 75% of all resumes never even get seen because of improper formatting!
So KEEP IT SIMPLE
On the other hand, it is O.K., to use ALL CAPS (where appropriate), and to use Bold, or Italics. Use these sparingly, though, and only to make a special point.
Number Three: Think keywords. The content of your resume – your headings, summary of experience, previous job descriptions – should reflect the specific position and job posting you are applying for. Yes, this means that you will want to take a bit of time to tailor your resume for each specific job you are applying for, but it will pay off BIG TIME. Here are a couple of examples:
Summary Section: At the top of your resume, you should include a brief (and I’m talking two or three sentences) “Summary Section” where you list the specific skills and experience you have that match up to the position/job you are applying for. While writing a summary section is often neglected by job applicants, it acts as an easy and quick way for a hiring manager to quickly scan your resume and make a judgement on whether they want to read your resume or not. This is easy (and highly effective) if you just take a few minutes to do it right.
What you do is look at each specific job description you are applying for and pick out the specific skills, duties and responsibilities the job is looking for. So if the job description is looking for “An aggressive prospector/hunter who is used to making outbound calls,” your summary section should list something like this:
I AM AN AGGRESSIVE PROSPECTOR WHO IS USED TO HUNTING FOR ACCOUNTS.
EXCELS WITH EXTENSIVE EXPERIENCE AT MAKING OUTBOUND CALLS TO GENERATE BOTH APPOINTMENTS AND LEADS.
As you can see, this matches up perfectly to what the hiring manager is specifically looking for, and as a result your resume will stand out among the hundreds of others that haven’t taken the time to do this. Remember, keywords like these (“aggressive,” “hunting,” “outbound calls,” are the specific things this hiring manager is looking for, and by making it obvious in your summary section that you possess them, you are in essence saying, “I’m the perfect candidate for you.” Believe me, they will keep reading through your resume.
Previous Experience: Next, you will want to keep listing these keywords throughout your previous job experience at the companies where it is appropriate. At each position where you did outbound calling, make sure and use those same keywords. Something like:
“At Safeco International, I excelled by making an aggressive number of outbound prospecting calls. In this hunter position, I was able to secure as many as five new appointments each day.”
Once again, you will see that as you list these keywords in your previous job experience, the hiring manager will keep nodding his or her head as they think, “This is the kind of person and experience I am looking for.” You should do this with each of the previous jobs you had (again, where it is appropriate), and it’s easy if you keep a copy of the job description in front of you as you tailor your resume.
Here is an example of how to turn a boring description (the kind your competition is submitting) into something that will not only make you stand out, but will make your resume outstanding!
“At Safeco, my job responsibilities involved sourcing leads through internet research to discover appropriate companies matching our profile. I was then tasked with making outbound calls to secure appointments. Once appointments were set, I then called back to present our solution via a ClearSlide presentation. In addition, I have experience with Sales Force as well as other CRM systems.”
Are you yawning yet? The hiring manager sure is! Here is how to turn this around:
“At Safeco International – a leader in the cloud computing space – I was an upper tier producer out of an inside sales team of fifteen reps. Besides independently sourcing my own, high value leads, I aggressively hunted new accounts by cold calling and setting as many as three new appointments per day. After thoroughly qualifying these prospects, I then delivered targeted closing presentations and often had the highest closing percentage in the office. Through my consultative, yet focused closing approach, I was consistently among the top three closers in the office. I am adept at most CRM systems, including Sales Force, and am a fast learner and can easily adapt to other systems. At Safeco I learned to develop and hone a comprehensive approach to sourcing, developing and closing a steady pipeline of leads and look forward to applying my skills and experience in my next position.”
Now which one of these resumes would you want to call? Don’t dismiss this as extra work. Again, it’s easy to do and it makes a HUGE difference to the person reading and evaluating your resume. It can often make the difference between discarding your resume or calling to set an interview with you.
Number Four: Sell Yourself! Your resume is your personal advertisement and yet it’s amazing how many people fail to treat it this way. Think about how an ad copy professional would write your resume if it were their job to sell you to a hiring manager. Instead of listing your previous job title as, “Account Representative,” they might write “Outstanding Account Representative who prides himself on providing detailed customer service and timely responses for a complete customer experience.” See the difference?
Be creative and concentrate on developing a compelling image of yourself. Again, your job in putting together your resume is to sell yourself to whomever is looking at it. You want to stand head and shoulders above all the other blah resumes they receive. And with a little bit of effort, you can do just that. Here are some other examples for you:
“AWARD WINNING INSIDE SALES REPRESENTATIVE WITH A HISTORY OF GOING ABOVE AND BEYOND WHAT IS EXPECTED. AGGRESSIVE OUTBOUND CALLING STAR WHO PRIDES HIMSELF ON HIS HUNTER MENTALITY AND IS COMMITTED TO NOT ONLY MEETING BUT TO EXCEEDING SALES QUOTAS.”
“INSIDE SALES PROFESSIONAL WITH A WINNER MENTALITY WHO DOES WHAT IT TAKES TO GET THE JOB DONE. A PROVEN PRODUCER WITH A CAN-DO ATTITUDE WHO IS A WELCOME ADDITION TO ANY INSIDE SALES TEAM.”
“A PROVEN PRODUCER AND FAST ADOPTER OF NEW SALES SYSTEMS AND SELLING METHODOLOGIES, I AM COMMITTED TO PUTTING IN THE TIME AND EFFORT TO SUCCEED.”
You can use these types of descriptions in either your beginning summary or at the end of your work experience section. They also make great conclusions to the end of your resume. The point is – as I’m sure you are beginning to see – to make a strong impression with the hiring manager. The time you take to rewrite your resume in the ways you are learning here, and the time you take to adapt and customize your resume to the specific positon you are applying to, will give you an undisputed advantage over your “so-called” competition.
Number Five: Extra Credit. While avoiding the mistakes in the previous section, and combining the best practices above will help you create a killer resume, if you want to put the “frosting on the cake,” so to speak, then think about adding either a testimonial or any achievement awards – or both!
Testimonials: Include any testimonials from specific jobs at the end of your experience section with that job. Keep these short, and as a bonus ask your referrer to mention that you would be welcomed back for rehire. Here is an example:
“HIGH ENERGY PRODUCER AND AGGRESSIVE PROSPECTOR. FREQUENTLY LED THE TEAM IN BOTH PRODUCTION AND ATTITUDE. WOULD DEFINITELY BE OPEN FOR REHIRE IF APPLIED HERE AGAIN. Michelle Keller, V.P. of Sales Safeco INC.”
Awards for achievement or bonuses earned: Always keep a record of any awards or bonuses you receive. These could be certificates or names on a top producer plate in the office, or any trophies, or special mentions in emails or in the company newsletter. In addition, if you won any trips or were paid bonuses, either daily or weekly, make sure and mention these as well. The best place to mention these is at the end of your resume in the “Conclusion,” or “In Summary” section. An example might be:
“FREQUENT WINNER OF THE WEEKLY CASH BONUS (AWARDED EACH FRIDAY FOR TOP PRODUCER OF THE WEEK) AT SAFECO INTERNATIONAL, I WAS ALSO AWARDED A SPOT ON THE CLOSER OF THE MONTH TROPHY THREE OUT OF TWELVE MONTHS.”
“WINNER OF THE 2015 PRESIDENT’S CLUB AND RECIPIENT OF THE ‘WEEKEND AWAY’ AWARD TRIP.”
Any and all of the special awards or acknowledgements you have previously received will help you to not only stand out, but they will paint the picture of you as being someone who has not only succeeded in the past, but will likely succeed at their company as well.
Most hiring managers are looking for your resume to assure them that you are more than likely to be a success. Because hiring a new employee is a time consuming and costly endeavor, they are looking for candidates that will be a “low risk” hire and hopefully as close to a “sure thing” as they can find. By taking the time to customize your resume to their specific job requirements, and then by creatively and enthusiastically selling yourself to them on how the skills and experience you have match up perfectly with what they are looking for you, you will convince them of this.
And by then listing your accomplishments, testimonials and awards, they will further feel not only comfortable with you, but even anxious to grab you off the market while you’re still available.
And that’s the kind of impact you want your resume to create, isn’t it?