Make Your Resume Work for You

When confronted with searching for a new job, whether you are simply looking for a new job or you are out of work, your resume needs to be able to jump off the hiring recruiter’s desktop and scream, “HIRE ME”.

When creating or updating your resume, your main goal and intention needs to be making yourself stand out from the crowd.  After all, in today’s age, with open jobs listed on a company’s website, there is the potential for hundreds of resumes to be transmitted to the recruiter each week.  Your resume needs to stand out from everyone else’s just to get a phone call from the recruiter.

Whether you are a twenty year professional, or a recent college graduate, you need to be able to portray yourself to a recruiter or hiring manager immediately that you are the person for the job.  To get that phone call from the recruiter, your resume needs to say that about you, because if it doesn’t, you will not have the chance to say it for yourself because you won’t be brought in for an interview.  Here are five tips to get your resume in condition to get that initial phone call from the recruiter of hiring manager:

Tip #1: Statement Summary:

A statement summary is your introduction to the hiring manager or recruiter.  In two to three quick sentences, you need to be able to effectively communicate to the hiring manager why they should continue reading your resume.

The statement summary is not intended to be your professional life story.  If it is too long, or worse, if it is too long-winded, your resume will quickly be filed in the deleted folder of the hiring manager’s email.

Also avoid uses clichés or jargons in your statement summary.  Don’t use a sentence describing yourself as “Confident in my skills and in my eagerness to succeed”, or “I would be a tremendous asset to your company”.  These sentences are just hollow phrases that tell a prospective employer nothing about you, or more importantly how you will be a tremendous asset: what is it that you bring to the table?

Tip #2: Effectively Communicate Experience:

This may be the biggest downfall for most people when updating or creating a resume.  Many believe that providing their job experience simply means listing their previous jobs and bulleting out the tasks that were associated with that particular job.

A prospective hiring manager is not concerned about the day-to-day functions of your job.  A prospective manager wants to know what you successfully accomplished at your previous employment and how that will translate to success in their company.  If a prospective employer wanted to know what your day-to-day job functions were, they would just do a job search of your job title.

It’s important for your resume to attract the recruiter’s eye with your accomplishments, awards, or promotions you attained while in your previous positions.  What were your achievements in your role that helped you exceed within your team?  What accomplishments did you achieve to receive the promotion?  What improvement did you create within your team or department to make it more efficient?  These are the highlights in your resume that will make you more marketable and more probable to receive a phone interview than the person who simply provided bulleted job tasks on their resume.

Tip #3 Proper Formatting:

It’s important to educate yourself on proper resume formatting.  If your resume does not have a professional flow, or is all over the place, your experience and qualifications won’t matter.  Resumes need to be specifically formatted to include job history, tools or certifications required for the job, and education.

Sometimes, a recruiter or hiring doesn’t have the time to review every detail of a resume at first cut.  If they cannot easily view through your resume, as they try to weed out potential candidates for an initial interview vs. the not interested pile, you might find yourself in the not interested pile because the hiring manager couldn’t easily find your qualifications.

Sometimes it’s the little things that make a difference.  Paying attention to the details, specifically with your resume content and format, could be the difference on whether you get a phone call or not.

Be aware of the length of your resume too.  Depending on your experience, a one to two page resume will suffice.  Anything more than two pages will quickly find your resume in the trash folder.  The more you move on in your career, the less relevant your oldest experience becomes.  Don’t remove that experience from your resume, but you need to learn to trim the fat from the bottom of your resume.

For more helpful tips on keeping your resume up to date, visit my article on Getting Ahead of Your Career:

Tip #4: Your Resume Must Look Professional:

It doesn’t matter how many accomplishments, achievements, or promotions you add to your resume if it doesn’t look professional.  There is nothing that screams out more that your resume should be deleted than if it is littered with spelling mistakes and basic inaccuracies.

There is absolutely no reason for a resume to have spelling and grammatical mistakes on it.  Nothing looks more unprofessional than receiving an electronic version of a resume that has the squiggle spelling and grammar mistakes highlighted across the page.

Take time to proofread your resume.  Be sure it is readable and understandable.  Have a family member or friend also proofread it.  Often times, when you write your own resume, you read what you intended to write, not what you actually wrote.  Having a fresh set of eyes review your resume will ensure that someone with a fresh perspective
has reviewed it and can give you helpful guidance and advice.

To give your resume that ultimate professional look save it as a pdf.  Just about every resume that comes across a recruiter or hiring manager’s inbox is saved in a Word document.  Saving it as a pdf gives yourself just that little extra boost to put yourself over the top from the hundred other resumes emailed this past week.  Of course, it tips 1-3 weren’t followed, pdf or not, your resume will still find itself in the trash folder.

Tip #5 Cover Letter.

This may seem a little old school to a few, but the cover letter is a lost art.  In today’s world, it is very simple to go to a company website, find three or four jobs that interest you and post your resume.  If it’s that easy for you, that means it’ that easy for everyone else.  Why simply do what everyone else is doing?

Going the extra mile and submit a cover letter along with your resume.  A cover letter should be no more than one page.  It should effectively articulate you, your experience, and why you are the best person for the job.  The resume provides the prospective employer your qualifications; the cover letter is your sales pitch.


Getting your resume up to snuff can be time a consuming process and does require a lot of work.  Invest those hours into your resume upfront and the dividends will be paid to you through interviews and job opportunities you receive later.

Often times, it is the little things that sets you apart from the competition.  Your resume is no exception to this rule.



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