I know – everyone is telling you something different about your resume, how to search for a job, and what is (or isn’t) out there – it’s hard to figure out fact from fiction. There are so many myths about resumes and jobs in today’s economy. Stop believing the amateurs and read tips from experienced professionals. It’s not worth getting discouraged over something that isn’t true. I was in Human Resources for 10 years and have been writing resumes professionally for 7 years – I am familiar with today’s market, standards, practices, and guidelines. The standards of a resume have changed significantly over the last few years – things are different today than they were a few years ago…even last year. I’m here to clarify a few of those myths and help you to land the job you need (and deserve).
First, please remember that your resume is your first impression – and don’t make it your only impression. You only have an average of three seconds to make an impression on the Human Resources Manager (if you make it through the Applicant Tracking System – which is why keywords need to be integrated throughout a resume). Ultimately, your resume is the most important tool in your job search. In a sense, it is more important than you. If it doesn’t stand out, you won’t matter. You’ll just be another candidate in the overflowing trash can under that tired Human Resources Manager’s desk. There are hundreds of other qualified candidates that are applying to the same position that you are and you could be the most qualified – but if your resume doesn’t have keywords or if it doesn’t stand out, you will lose out on the opportunity. You need to shine on paper before you shine in person. Even the slightest mistake can have your resume in the trash can. I highly recommend making the investment in yourself to have your resume professionally written.
As I mentioned, resume standards have changed over the last few years. You can’t just pull a template from an internet site, add your information, and send it out – it won’t be effective. Objective statements are outdated and keywords are extremely important. Only 1 in every 20 self-written resumes pass the employer keyword scanning systems (Applicant Tracking Systems). The format and look of your resume matters more than ever. It needs to catch the attention of the reader and draw them in to make them want to read more. Also, your resume does not need to be limited to one page. A one page resume works for some people, but for many, a one page resume will never show their true potential. Don’t sell yourself short – sell yourself as the person that stands tall and contributes to a company.
I always recommend that my clients use Indeed.com to search for jobs. It is a great site that has jobs from many job boards and companies. You won’t have to go to every website to try to find a job that you are interested in. Please don’t get discouraged after applying to 5 or 10 jobs and not hearing back. The average is 1-5 calls for every 200 resumes sent (in today’s economy). With an excellent resume, your odds are much better (the average is 1-5 calls for every 50-100 resumes sent with a strong resume). Many people think that they can just post their resume on Monster.com or CareerBuilder.com and wait for the phone to ring – it’s not that easy. It is important to post your resume on job boards, but you also have to apply to positions yourself.
Another site I highly recommend is Linkedin.com. LinkedIn is becoming an essential tool in your job search. Many employers will use search engines to look up a candidate before offering an interview and your LinkedIn profile is usually one of the first things that will come up. It is important to present yourself in the best light and in a truthful manner. Employers and recruiters will also use LinkedIn to source candidates. They can find you before you have the chance to find them. Don’t miss opportunities because you don’t have a profile or your profile is subpar. LinkedIn is your internet resume – it is just as important as your regular resume. I call it the “professional Facebook.” On your profile, you will also have the opportunity to ask for endorsements and recommendations.
Endorsements of your skills with allow employers to see that others have vouched for your abilities. Recommendations are great to have and serve as a reference. On LinkedIn, you can also search for Human Resources Managers or Recruiters from companies that you would be interested in working for and introduce yourself. Also, make sure that you customize your LinkedIn URL. You will have the option to do this on the ‘edit profile’ page.
My final recommendation is to stay positive and keep applying. You can and will find a job – there is a job out there that is meant just for you. Getting discouraged will only hurt your job search. I know it can be hard to stay positive – especially with all of the negativity around. If an employer doesn’t call, it’s their loss. You will give that same potential to another company. Don’t wait for them to find you – go out and find them! Good luck with your job search and go get that job – you deserve it!