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Teach Your Old Resume Some New Tricks in 8 Easy Steps

Desktop with "write resume" block on top of grid paper

This post is a recap of the January 6, 2020, Hudson Job Search presentation.

What does your C.V. say about you?

This session’s presenter, Kris McGuigan, is a professional resume writer and owner of Professional Courage. She holds the prestigious Academy Certified Resume Writers designation (ACRW), placing her among a distinct group of industry professionals worldwide to also hold an MBA. She is also a member of the acclaimed Forbes Coaches Council.

In a blink of an eye recruiters determine your fit for a job. Is your resume leaving the best first impression? If not, follow these 8 easy steps to refresh your resume:

Step 1: Streamline Your Header

  • The top or “header” of your resume (not to be confused with the “header” function in Microsoft Word,) should include your full name, phone number (with area code), and email address. If you are applying to jobs in Northeast Ohio, include your city, state, and ZIP code of residence, which Kris indicates is a unique request of regional recruiters. For privacy reasons, never use your full mailing address.
  • The email address you use also says a lot about you, your age, and your technology competency. Ditch the @aol, @yahoo or other antiquated system address in favor of @gmail or a local internet provider service such as Spectrum, Verizon, AT&T, etc. The most professional emails use a person’s legal name, or a derivative, such as JohnDoe@gmail.com NOT something like Johnlovesbudweiser352@aol.com.
  • Today, 99% of recruiters use LinkedIn to research and validate job candidates. Include your LinkedIn profile address and/or professional/portfolio website address in the header.

Step 2: Include the Job Title

  • Below the header, add the desired job title in prominent type. You may use either the title of the job you are applying to or a strong title that defines your overall goal. If you can, make it skimmable, relatable and inspiring. How will you motivate the recruiter to read on? Does “Marketing Manager” work? How about “Award-winning Digital Marketer with 80% Conversion Rate”?

Step 3: Add a Value Proposition

  • Following the job title, it’s time to really speak to the pain points of the employer. Remember, this job search is really not about you. Think about it – it is about the company’s need to solve a problem. Not the other way around. You are their potential solution. How will you demonstrate you can fix what’s broken?
  • Showcase your leadership, technical and core competencies vs. your qualifications in a speedy-to-read executive summary style. Scannable, bullet-point lists work well for this with only a sentence or two per bullet maximum. Brief and brilliant is best.
  • Describe your unique value proposition. “No one wants a jack-of-all-trades,” McGuigan “Without a target; job search is pointless,” she says. So, explain what you do best in an accomplishments style, not a regurgitation of your job description.

Step 4: Make it Count

  • List 2-3 of your most notable achievements in quantifiable form that proves you can get results, such as: “Increased memberships by 70% in less than six months;” “Decreased expenditures 37% year-over-year with the advent of a streamlined purchasing system,” “Secured $3.75-million in grants funding to underwrite the launch of a foundational academic program.” Make sure you select topics that can be transferable to the job you are applying to.

Step 5: Survive the ATS Black Hole

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are software that helps automate the recruiting and hiring process by using algorithms to track the most appropriate candidates moving them from applicant to interviewee.

  • Avoid common mistakes that can take you out of the running: don’t use graphics, tables or headers/footers in your documents since the ATS may parse these out as unrecognizable garbage. Include all of your text in the body of the document.
  • Use a word cloud app like “wordle.net” to aid you in including the right keywords in your resume. By pasting the job description into the free online web application, you can build a word cloud that will clearly display the most used keywords from that job posting.
  • Ensure you have included the keywords from the job description in your resume. If the job description says “manage social media” use that terminology vs. “oversaw various online social accounts.”
  • Follow expert best practices. One of the most dynamic duos in resume writing is the team of Louise Kursmark and Wendy Enelow. Their books: “Modernize Your Resume” and “Modernize Your Job Search Letter” are eye-opening, widely available, and provide step-by-step tips to help you get the job done.
  • When applying to jobs, upload a Word document vs. a PDF. Word documents are more ATS-friendly.

Step 6: Use One Resume. Customize the Cover Letter.

  • Do some online research and find a few job descriptions that best match your career aspirations. Then, highlight those qualifications that most closely align with desired requirements in the job descriptions.
  • Craft your resume to stand on its own, regardless of the specific position you are responding to. Use your time to research each company, its leadership, and pain points and customize your cover letter to show you did your homework.

Step 7: Prove Your ROI.

  • When listing out your accomplishments, you need to quantify – in precise terms – results as measurable wins for the company.
  • Ask yourself some “How” questions to help define your return on investment (ROI): Think about the problem you solved. Can you define “How Much?” “How Many”? “How Long”? or “How Often?” Pretend you are a product. Do you have “Employer Buying Motivators” to make the recruiter want to “buy” (hire) you?

Step 8: Market With Intention.

  • Streamline your strengths. Eliminate redundancies in your resume. Use the most significant wins from each position and don’t repeat the same accomplishments over and over.
  • Less is more. Use no more than 5 bullet points under any given position you’ve held.
  • Limit the number of jobs listed on your resume to those held during the past 10-15 years. It is no longer an advantage to talk about your years of experience. It is all about achievement, achievement, achievement, not the length of time you’ve worked.
  • Use your authentic, conversation voice. Be genuine.
  • Add community leadership, professional organization affiliations, and volunteer roles if they will add significantly to your strength as a candidate.

Get Ready to Clean!

Taking time to freshen up your resume will not only present you as a focused, contemporary and knowledgeable job candidate, but it can also help you refocus your energy, build self-confidence, and gain enthusiasm for the task. These 8 tips are a sure-fire way to streamline the process.

Discover more about Kris McGuigan: www.professionalcourage.com

Helpful Resume Resources: https://professionalcourage.com/resources/

Save the Date for the Next Hudson Job Search Meeting!

Hudson Job Search meets the first and third Monday evenings at Christ Church Episcopal, 21 Aurora St. with sign-in and networking at 7:00 – 7:30 p.m. The meeting is from 7:30 – 9:00 p.m. All our events are free of charge and open to anyone who lives and works in the greater NEO area, whether you currently have a job or not. No need to register in advance, but seating is limited to approximately 40 individuals. Please dress business casual. Park behind the church and come to the Parish Hall. Visit our Events link for upcoming meeting topics.

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