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23 Things You Should Include To Make A Killer Résumé

23 Things You Should Include To Make A Killer Résumé

Put yourself in a recruiter’s shoes.

If you were faced with a stack of résumés what would you want? The ability to download all the info into your brain, the way that Neo from The Matrix gets plugged in and learns Kung Fu in about ten seconds?

Unfortunately it doesn’t really work like that. In fact, research shows that recruiters take only six seconds to make their initial judgement on a résumé. If your résumé is screened by a computer first, it may not even get that far.

So, your job, when creating a killer résumé, is to make it really easy for the recruiter to spot the most important benefits you offer the employer.

Do the work, so they don’t have to. Here’s how:

1. Make sure your résumé is tailored to the job you are applying for

Generic résumés may be quick to submit, but far less effective. Better one excellent job application than three shoddy ones.

Researching the cultural norms of the organization is worthwhile. For example, within one industry some will value experience but not care much about education, while others care about your qualifications.

2. Only apply if you meet the job criteria

Don’t waste your time or the recruiter’s applying for jobs if you don’t meet their criteria. If you still want that job, go and expand your skill set before trying again in future.

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3. Don’t lie

Even if you get through the first screening, lying about or exaggerating your accomplishments is likely to come back to bite you. Recovering from the loss of trust is hard.

4. Add keywords

After writing the résumé, check it for keywords from the job description.

Keywords are gifts to you from the employer. Add them into the existing text so they flow naturally. This will help your résumé get past screening software, and recruiters who are accustomed to searching quickly for these keywords.

5. Structure your résumé carefully

It is easiest for the recruiter if your key skills and background are summarised at the top. Make sure your current and most recent previous role are on the first page.

Your education and qualifications are generally less important than your professional experience, so put these later.

6. Show how your most recent two jobs are relevant

Recruiters will spend 80% of their time on your name, the company, job title, start and end dates for your current and previous companies, and finally your education.

If you are changing direction in your career, you will need to work even harder to draw out the skills and networks you are bringing from these last two jobs.

7. Keep the résumé short

Remember the recruiter will scan your résumé in seconds. Including your school paper round or even lengthy details of your first job out of college is not something a recruiter will thank you for (unless, of course, you are applying for your second job out of college).

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8. Demonstrate progress

Show the recruiter that your career makes sense. Tell a story which shows promotions and additional responsibilities as you delivered value to your employer.

9. Use CAR as a guide

CAR stands for Context, Action, Results. Use them as a mental checklist. Keep the context short: just long enough for the recruiter to know what your job was. Spend longest what you actually achieved as a result of the actions that you took.

10. Provide proof

Qualify your results wherever possible. Beating your targets, raising finance, cutting costs, making great sales all provide convincing and easily digested data which demonstrate your achievements. Social proof such as promotions and customer feedback are also worthwhile.

11. Show you are a rounded person

Include personal projects, sports or voluntary work that you participate in, but be aware if they are activities which might stereotype you or turn an employer off.

12. Include links to other sites and social media

Keep your résumé short while demonstrating your talents by providing links to articles, photos, or websites you’ve designed, or a portfolio. Also, provide the url for your LinkedIn profile and Twitter feed it those reflect your professional abilities.

Clearly, you want to avoid a Facebook page with photos of your drunken exploits. Better still, don’t post these on social media in the first place.

13. Give a good reason for leaving an employer

Recruiters will especially be looking at the reasons you want to leave your current employer and how long you were with them. If you’ve had a series of short-lived positions you’ll need a convincing explanation of why a recruiter should take a risk on you.

14. Explain gaps in your employment history

Leaving a gap on your résumé leaves the recruiter wondering. If you’ve taken time out for parenting or starting your own business, tell them. If you’ve been traveling, show how it has enriched you as a candidate.

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15. Exclude irrelevant information

Don’t reveal your age, race, gender, marital status, or whether you have kids. Research shows that even the most self-aware recruiters have unconscious biases.

16. Show your eligibility to work

Make it easy for a recruiter to be confident that you are eligible to work without having to apply for work permits.

17. Make it easy for the recruiter to contact you

Include contact details with your email and one phone number (don’t make the recruiter have to guess which number to use). Don’t bother with your home address.

18. Format for clarity

Make sure your formatting goes hand in hand with the résumé structure to ensure recruiters can spot the key information easily.

Create clear sections with easy-to-read, consistent headlines. Use an attractive font, which is also easy to read. Don’t use Word templates. If your design skills are truly terrible get someone else to do the formatting for you.

19. Stick to a familiar format

In this case, boring is good. Unless you are specifically applying for a graphic design or creative role and want to demonstrate your talent, avoid unusual formats. Remember, the recruiter doesn’t want to be distracted as they scan the page.

Cut anything that seems clever but reduces clarity, including pictures. If you do use something different, make sure it is effective and suits the employer’s own style before you submit it.

20. Submit your résumé in pdf format

Unless you are asked otherwise, send your résumé as a pdf. This will ensure your formatting remains consistent on any device.

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21. Spell-check and grammar-check

Obvious, perhaps, but surprisingly often spelling and grammar mistakes are what leads to a résumé being put in the reject pile. Use the past tense and third person, not first person consistently throughout your résumé.

Don’t rely on your computer’s spelling and grammar checkers. They are often wrong. Edit it yourself and then get another person to read your résumé with fresh eyes.

22. Check before you include a cover letter

Most cover letters are a waste of time. Either don’t bother, or, if the recruiter specifically requests one, make sure it says something meaningful.

Cover letters can be used as headlines, picking out the most relevant parts of a résumé. They can deal with issues the recruiter may be concerned about, such as a change of career direction. They can remind a recruiter about an occasion that gave them cause to trust or care about you.

23. Don’t write to the CEO

Unless you are applying to a tiny company, or you know the CEO personally, it is not the CEO who will be doing the initial screening. Don’t waste their time.

Featured photo credit: typing on laptop, picture about education via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on April 17, 2019

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

2. Flexibility

Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

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Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

3. Being a Team Player

Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

4. Positive Mental Attitude

There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

5. A Strong Work Ethic

People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

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If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

  • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
  • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
  • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
  • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

6. Public Speaking

Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

7. Integrity

From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

  • Always doing what you say you will do
  • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

…even when no one is around to check up on you.

There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

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Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

8. Managing Your Time

Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

9. Assertiveness

In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

  • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
  • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
  • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
  • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

How do you use this information for yourself?

It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

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How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

10. Creative Thinking

LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Final Thoughts

The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

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Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

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