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Your résumé is probably something you consider when changing careers or looking for a new job. Job searching doesn’t have to be as hard as we make it, especially if we focus on what I wrote about in this column. Thinking about the job search process and how it compares to things in your everyday life helps you relate and increases the likelihood that you’ll act on the takeaways. Sarah Johnson, a job search strategist, recently asked me to participate in a LinkedIn conversation about how job searching can be compared to online dating. Having met my husband online, I was especially intrigued. In both cases, job searching and online dating require a strong personal brand and benefit from an objective perspective. 

If you want your résumé to be a branding tool that lands a job, you’ll need to answer these questions with a resounding yes aside from question five.

1. Does your résumé showcase you as the ideal candidate? 

Good talent acquisition teams and hiring managers will spot word fluff and fillers on a résumé. Instead, they want to see what you’ve achieved and how you added value to the company because this shows why you’re right for the job. Here are some key accomplishments that resonate on a résumé.

  • Contributing to the company culture
  • Contributing to corporate social impact
  • Boosting employee morale
  • Generating revenue or saving money
  • Expanding stakeholders
  • Boosting productivity
  • Building clientele
  • Improving processes
  • Increasing profits
Today In: Leadership

But before you think about what you’ve accomplished, you need to focus on the first step. You’re probably not an ideal client if you don’t have a clear focus. Although, as I shared in this article, you can still be stuck when you’re clear on your career path.

2. Are your dates and claims correct? 

A recent ethics in the workplace study with 23,000 employees found:

  • Male respondents were 6% more likely to say they had lied or exaggerated on a résumé or in an interview in their lives than females.
  • Hispanic/Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander, and African-American respondents all say they’ve “never” about 10% less frequently than the Caucasians.
  • Men in Design and Engineering are three times more likely to have lied or exaggerated for an interview or résumé.
  • 30% say they’ve lied to their boss.

3. Does your résumé content match the job description? 

Look at the job description and ask yourself:

  • What responsibilities are mentioned first?
  • What are their must-haves and preferences?
  • What are their top personality and character themes? If they’ve noted something more than three times, then you can count it as a key theme. Common themes are often soft skills like leadership, teamwork and agility.
  • What are the key technical skills?

How to make your content match?

  • Match the top keywords from the job description in your skills section and opening section.
  • Make your target job title the same title as seen in the job listing. If your current job title doesn’t accurately speak to what you do, put a title in brackets.
  • Reorder your bullet points, so the most relevant aspects are first.

4. Does the top third of your résumé give enough evidence? 

Recruiters spend an average of 7.4 seconds when initially screening your résumé. If you don’t get the employer interested in interviewing you in the top section of your résumé, you’ll lose out.

5. Is there anything else that should and can be quantified? 

Ask yourself how, what were the outcomes, when and why? Employers want to know what you’ve accomplished, and numbers can help show that. Just remember not to include anything that would be considered private company information, and don’t border on the lines of looking inauthentic by quantifying too much.

6. Do you have a professional form of social proof listed?

 According to Jobvite, 77% of talent acquisition teams use LinkedIn to find talent.

7. Is your document free of typos and errors? 

More than two-thirds of hiring managers (77%) immediately disqualify résumés because of grammatical mistakes or typos. Applicant tracking systems and job search tools won’t pick up a misspelled word, and that will mess up your chances of being found in searches.

8. Do you have your email address, zip code and telephone number clearly displayed? 

9. Is the layout attractive, professional, modern and complimentary to your message?  

10. Is your use of language compelling and precise, and are you overusing verbs or any other words?

My mentor would always say it doesn’t matter how fantastic your services are if the right people don’t know about them. It’s the same with a résumé. A compelling résumé means nothing if it’s not in the right person hands. Your résumé is a small fraction of what’s needed as you seek out fulfillment in your career.


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