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How to Nail Your Dream Job with an Impressive Resume

How to Nail Your Dream Job with an Impressive Resume

Stuck in a job rut nightmare? It’s never too late to dig yourself out. And an all-star resume might just be the shovel you need.

Picture this: You finally get the chance to apply for your dream job. You already know what you’re going to wear to the interview. You’ve envisioned which pictures to hang in your office, and how you plan to decorate your desk. You just know that once they meet you in person, they won’t be able to say “No.”

But before you can sell yourself in person, you have to rely on your resume to do the initial talking.

And just the sheer mention of the “R” word has you cringing.

It can be difficult, especially for personable people, to describe their life’s work on a piece of paper. But these 10 resume tips can land you the breakout interview you’ve been working for. That dream job will be as good as yours.

1. Make your resume interactive.

You can add interactive resume links to your social media profiles, like LinkedIn, and examples of your work to give the hiring manager extra opportunities to explore your strong points. However, make sure you test every feature before you send your resume.

2. Take advantage of formatting tools to help important content stand out.

You can use different font sizes, bolded or italicized words to highlight important information, like this example:

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    But don’t overdo it. Using formatting is supposed to help the recruiter find information easier, but using the wrong formatting can complicate your resume, like in this example:

      3. Learn how to utilize your real estate effectively.

      You only get one page (two, tops) to show your stuff, so you need to use it wisely. But instead of sacrificing font size or cramming text into every white space, try decreasing your margins, and minimizing the size of blank lines between content.

      For instance, you might choose to use an 11-point font for your content, but you can change the blank lines in between sections to an 8-point font without your text becoming cluttered or unreadable.

      Also remember to use enough white space and minimize text on the page for easy searchability. You can do this by replacing long words with short ones (bigger isn’t better in this case), and writing phrases instead of complete sentences.

      4. Empower a keyword strategy.

      Recruiters typically scan resumes for certain criteria, and using action words early on in your resume can help to spark their interest:

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      • Utilized
      • Developed
      • Managed
      • Led
      • Designed
      • Initiated
      • Taught

      Front load these keywords in your job duties and accomplishments so the recruiter won’t be able to miss them.

      5. Don’t overdo it on design work.

      Sure, you want your resume to look nice (at least nice enough to catch their attention), but the content within will ultimately land you in the Yes or No stack.

      Hiring managers are used to a standard (if boring) format. It helps them find the information they want to know quickly. Differentiating yourself from the stack may help get you noticed, but no recruiter wants to spend extra time searching for key findings in your reinvented resume because your design skills got in the way.

      Here’s an example of how a nice-looking resume’s design confuses the content:

        Yes, it gets attention. But will it get an interview? Perhaps for a design job. Probably not for any other job.

        6. Your skills and job expertise should reflect how you can do the job you are applying for, not how you did your previous job.

        It’s important to recruiters how you performed in your previous jobs, but it’s even more important to forecast how you might perform if you’re offered the job.

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        No, this doesn’t mean creating a brand new resume from scratch each time you apply to a job. But it does mean you should make a few tweaks to tailor your resume to each job you apply for.

        7. Include the same language of the job posting into your resume.

        Nowadays, your resume will go through a computer scanner before it ever reaches human eyes. These scanners are searching for keywords and information: if yours has it, you might move on to the next step.

        Start by looking for clues in the job description. Add their language verbatim into your resume to ensure your skills match their requirements. This could mean the difference of an actual person seeing your resume, or having your digital resume hang out in eternal cyberspace.

        8. Put your strongest qualities at the top.

        Oftentimes recruiters will not read your resume word for word as they decide to move forward with interviews. If you want certain information to get noticed, it’s best to put it first.

        Start by listing your most relevant duties at the top of each job on your resume. These should be the specific items also listed in the job description. Also, make sure you are only including the most important information, rather than every single duty you can think of. You’ve got limited space and time to make an impression, so put your best foot (and only your best foot) forward.

        9. Be specific in listing your achievements.

        Details tell the story that recruiters want to know about you, so make sure you’re giving them a clear picture of what you’re worth. For instance, instead of listing things like

        • Promoted to shift manager
        • Problem solver
        • Self-directed

        you could say

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        • Managed a team of 7 employees after promotion to shift manager
        • Solved a shipping problem that saved $5,000 a year in materials
        • Initiated a company-wide account review that generated $6,000 in annual revenue

        10. Only talk about skills that pertain to the job.

        Listing irrelevant hobbies or skills that might not carry over to the job you’re applying for is a blatant waste of real estate on your resume. Yet many folks continue to include useless information as page fillers.

        For example, if you are applying for an office job, don’t waste time talking about how you maintained the office appearance, or made fresh coffee daily, or ordered office supplies. These things are either assumed, capable of anybody, or don’t matter.

        Instead, you could talk about how many clients or employees you managed, how you initiated a new process that boosted efficiency, or a mistake you caught that saved the company some money. This is your chance to talk about the things that differentiate you from other applicants.

        You don’t have to be an excellent writer to write an excellent resume!

        Use these 10 resume tips as your starting block to help you finish the job race and you’ll emerge with the dream job you know you deserve.

        Featured photo credit: Flaticon via flaticon.com

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        Last Updated on April 22, 2021

        How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

        How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

        Habits are what sets an average leader apart from a great leader. We can argue that talent is the biggest factor; we may debate how the amount of charisma sets the two apart. Yet, if you were to show me what you believed to be a great leader, I can show you the habits that made her/him great. Great leaders have great habits and know how to work hard the smart way.

        Developing Great Habits Is Hard Work

        In my early college days, I had spent a lot of time learning how to play the trumpet. Playing the trumpet took time and discipline. I had some natural talent, but not enough to hide my lack of ability. My trumpet teacher was a man of discipline, and there was no doubt he had talent. What stood to me was his work ethic. He had to be one of the hardest working mentors that I had the privilege of working with.

        One afternoon, I was in his office getting ready for my weekly trumpet lesson. As I was preparing, my eyes scanned the room and saw that there were quotes all over his office. My eyes rested on one quote that forever changed my thinking about my playing. It was a quote from my high school basketball coach Tim Notke that would become popular through professional athletes Kevin Durant and Tim Tebow:

        “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”

        Hard work trumps talent. The key to success is not found in your talent or ability. Talent and ability are necessary, but they are not the primary factors. They are supporting roles in the story you are writing.

        Ultimately, hard work is the key to your success. A good work ethic creates the momentum that propels you forward towards your goals.

        Motivation Is Not the Answer

        How many times have you seen someone go to a conference, get inspired, and then come home and do nothing?

        If motivation were the answer, the world would have transformed hundreds of times over. Yet, when we look out our doors or turn on the news, we do not see a utopian society.

        We have thousands of people who become inspired but lack the work ethic to apply anything they have learned. Time and time again frustration creeps in. We are so motivated and inspired by what we see but fail to put in place the things that would change our lives.

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        Frustration happens when the gap between what you expect to be true and what is true gets bigger. Motivation tends to create an expectation that is not rooted in reality. We want to take on the world but cannot get off Netflix long enough to do so.

        Motivation is not the answer, but working hard is. Good habits and routines that produce success are the byproducts of a strong work ethic. The habits and routines we create and follow are the foundation on which we build a winning life.

        How to Work Hard by Working Smarter

        Here are 4 routines that will help you learn how to work hard and achieve your short term and long term goals.

        1. Define What a Win Looks Like

        In football, a player that crosses into the end zone gain points. In soccer, a player kicks the ball into the net to score. Hockey, lacrosse, and basketball are all the same. The player takes the object and moves it into the designated area to gain points. The team with the most points wins the game.

        Why is it that we can define what a win looks like in sports, but we fail to do so in our leadership, our businesses, or our homes?

        Learning how to work hard without setting a target is futile. It is insanity to work hard without having a clear direction to place your energy. I would argue that defining a win is one of the most important routines that a leader can have. Defining a win separates superficial activity from meaningful activity.

        When I define a win, I know the goal line I have to cross[1]. Knowing where the goal line is informs me of the activity I have to engage in to cross it. Without a clear direction, I am spinning my wheels hoping that I will get to a destination I haven’t defined. It is like asking a GPS for directions but failing to input the destination.

        4 Steps to Define a Win
        • Know the outcome you desire.
        • Declare the outcome in specific, meaningful terms.
        • Write the outcome down.
        • Set your activity list to only do that which will complete your goals.

        Let me give you an example. 15 years ago, I started speaking professionally. As a young and naïve speaker, I thought winning meant that I had to get a reaction from the audience. If they cheered, smiled, or cried, I considered myself a winner. The problem was my lack of understanding of what a win looked like. As a seasoned speaker, my wins look different.

        As of today, when I speak, I am not looking for any emotional reactions from the audience. I win if, and only if, I clearly communicated my point so that anyone hearing the talk can take it and apply it to their lives that day. That is how I define a win when I speak now.

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        Create a habit of declaring a win. When you do, you will see your productivity soar and your encouragement increase. Pairing a hard work ethic with wise decisions creates victory. Stop being a mouse on a wheel that goes nowhere, and start being the captain of your fleet.

        2. Evaluate Your Activity

        Not all activity is equal. There are things you must do, things you need to do, and things we can either give away or delete. The greatest challenge of a leader is understanding the difference. Understanding what activity is busywork and what activity is mission work is pivotal.

        Not only do we need to learn how to evaluate our activity, but we must make this a core routine in our arsenal of success. Stop working so hard on everything and start learning how to work hard on the right things.

        Not every activity will move the needle forward for you. In fact, you were never meant to do everything yourself! Once we stop trying to be a martyr in our leadership, we can start looking at how to take things off our plates through delegation.

        Based on the Eisenhower box, there are 4 things that we look at when deciding on which activities are important:

        • Do now
        • Plan to do it later
        • Delegate to someone else
        • Delete it

        Powerful questions are the way you discover if the activity is right or not:

        • Does this activity move me towards or away from my goals?
        • Do I have to do this activity or can I give this activity away to someone else?
        • Does this activity have to be now right now or can it be scheduled for later dates?
        • Does this activity have to be done at all?

        Evaluating the type of activity you engage in should be a routine that you do daily. Learning how to work hard should create progress. Having a system of evaluation and a routine to do it will help.

        3. Prioritize Your Calendar

        If you were to show me your calendar, I could show you why you are not further along. When you lack the routine of placing things on your calendar, two things happen.

        First, what does not make it on your calendar does not get done.

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        It is a simple truth that is often overlooked. Your calendar contains the power to change your life. Yet, we don’t use our calendars to their fullest potential.

        “You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” -John C. Maxwell

        Also, if you don’t mark you activities on your calendar, you are leaving it open to other’s priorities.

        “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” -Stephen Covey

        Having a routine in your life where you place things on your calendar is pivotal to your success. This is not a routine one should overlook.

        It’s time to take your leadership and business to the next level. It’s time to start putting your daily routines on your calendar, along with your priorities.

        4. Reflect on Your Day and Plan the Next

        We are all about the morning routine. Whatever that looks like for you, there should be a routine in the morning that sets you up for success.

        Hard work starts when your feet hit the ground in the morning. Creating the habit of winning starts with the first thing you accomplish that morning. If you win your morning, you will win your day.

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        Best Morning Routine to Prepare to Work Hard

          But how often have you heard people talk about an evening routine? Tomorrow is won the day before it happens. When you fail to plan your day, you may put your effort toward in the wrong things. Route replaces routine. Indecision replaces decisiveness. Losses replace wins. The discouragement will deflate your momentum and increases the chances of procrastination. That is why we set our schedule the night before.

          “Every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought.” -Sun Tzu

          Working hard doesn’t have to be hard work. It shouldn’t take much out of you learn how to work hard as long as you work smart. Having a time where you reflect on the day and set your priorities is the difference-maker.

          Use these questions to reflect on your day:

          • What went well?
          • What didn’t go well?
          • What can I change?
          • What do I need to start doing?
          • What do I need to stop doing?

          The Bottom Line

          Navigating through life is hard work. Yet, the work doesn’t have to be hard when you work smarter. When you create routines that support your mission, you create wins. Working hard, the smart way will tip the balance in our favor.

          Boxing legend Joe Frazier said:

          “Champions aren’t made in the ring; they are merely recognized there.”

          Champions put in the hard work behind the scenes. The world recognized them as a champion when they saw the results of the hard work. Right now, you are doing the work of creating a champion in yourself.

          That work is setting your routines in order because you now know that success flows from your daily routines. If you are not experiencing the success you desire, then it is time to change things up.

          More on Creating Healthy Routines

          Featured photo credit: Zan via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] The Balance Careers: Interview Question: “How Do You Define Success?”

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