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Beyond Key Words: 5 Tips for Crafting a Successful Resume

Beyond Key Words: 5 Tips for Crafting a Successful Resume

Getting your resume seen and read these days can feel like an uphill climb. Job seekers must clear tough hurdles to land that first interview, including making it through an employer’s applicant tracking system (ATS) software and being noticed by time-crunched human resource professionals. A thoughtfully presented and error-free resume can make the difference in getting your foot in the door.

“If you make an employer work too hard, your resume is going to end up in the ‘no’ pile,” says Devin Lemoine, founder and president of the Baton Rouge-based management consulting firm, Success Labs. “It’s really important to invest the energy in making your resume the absolute best that it can be.”

IBERIABANK Talent Acquisition Specialist Suzanne Edwards agrees. The Lafayette-based financial institution employees more than 3,440 associates across 329 offices in 12 states.

“If you’re serious about a position, it’s really important to take a moment to make sure your resume is well-written and demonstrates clearly that you’re a good fit for the position,” says Edwards. “Sometimes we only have about 60 seconds to review each one.”

5 Tips for Crafting a Successful Resume

Read and understand the job posting

The first step in submitting a top-notch resume is to make sure you’re crystal clear on what the job you’re applying for requires. “Job seekers should review a job description in detail and make sure their resume shows they have the personal interest and appropriate background,” says Edwards. “Don’t apply for a job as a business analyst if you have ‘hospital administration’ as your career objective. It seems obvious, but many job seekers make this mistake.”

Use action-oriented language and quantify accomplishments

Lemoine suggests using a variety of action words to showcase your achievements at each former or current post. Such words might include led, managed, achieved, upgraded, supported, covered, coordinated, orchestrated, planned or oversaw. “There are so many,” says Lemoine, “and if you get stuck, there are tons of searchable lists you can turn to.” Moreover, job seekers should quantify their accomplishments where possible. For example, individuals eager to land a position in digital marketing should show how much online traffic increased as a result of their efforts, while those interested in sales should site numbers of new or recurring accounts or customer satisfaction surveys.

Pay attention to trends

One way to make sure you craft a timely and relevant resume is to get in the habit of reading job postings both in and outside of your field, says Lemoine. You’ll notice trends in style and content that will help keep your resume fresh. For example, if you list certification in Total Quality Management (TQM), but you’re seeing more interest in Six Sigma training, it could indicate a need to upgrade your professional development.

Don’t just apply online

While online applications aren’t going away, Lemoine also suggests job seekers get in the habit of building an old-fashioned, face-to-face network. “I challenge my clients to come up with a list of people they can go to for information and advice, and people they can ask for contacts in a given field,” she says. “You should have a well-written, up-to-date resume ready to hand out personally.”

Take requirements seriously 

If a job posting says you need five years of experience in a certain field, then assume you really do need five years, says Edwards. Employers are serious about job requirements. But even if you’re not ready to apply for a certain position, consider the discovery valuable research. Make a note of a job’s requirements and set out to gain those experiences in the meantime.

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