How to Write Your Resume with a Winning Edge

A recent study by the employment services agency Manpower found that 84% of workers are planning to look for a new job this year. How about you? Are you in this majority? Even February 2012’s unemployment report showed that the previously unemployed had begun searching for jobs again as they sense an improving labor market. This adds up to even more competition for every job opportunity and even more importantly the reason you must have a winning resume.

Do you remember when the resume debates were over the weight and color of paper? If the answer is “yes”, your resume might need more than a polish. It might need an overhaul. A lot has changed in the job market the past few years. For example, about 80% of employers, both small and large, are using an applicant tracking system (ATS). This means your resume will probably be “read” first by computer software and not a human. Consider the technology with some of the points below.

·         Be sure your resume can be read and doesn’t “choke” the system. Keep the font and formatting neat, using popular fonts (e.g., Times Roman, Arial). Do not use any overly stylized formatting like graphics, italics, logos, watermarks, headers, or footers.

·         Customize your resume to the position description as much as possible. Applicant tracking systems search for keywords in your resume to assess whether you are a good fit for the open position. Include as many keywords as you can, especially if you can honestly include them in your work history (the more advanced systems are starting to read for keywords in context).

If you are using the same resume for every job you might be having a more difficult time getting through the ATS, regardless of your stellar qualifications.

In 2012 people are busy – this includes security recruiters and hiring managers. At first pass, most recruiters will only spend between 5 and 20 seconds reading a resume. They are scanning, much like the ATS, but processing in a far more sophisticated way.

·         Be sure your capabilities that match the job description stand out. Make it very easy for the busy recruiter to see that your skills, abilities, capabilities and competencies match what is needed for the job.

·         Don’t just list what you’ve done – but also your accomplishments. I cannot emphasize this enough! Your resume should give managers and recruiters an immediate sense of what you can do and what you will accomplish for the organization. Paint a picture of your achievements by using numbers and percentages of things like budgets managed, P&L, size of the organization or department you managed, sales, cost savings, and projects directed.

·         Be sure nothing is a turn-off. You may be proud of the fact that you have the world’s largest collection of presidential campaign buttons. However, unless you are lucky enough for the recruiter to be a fellow political aficionado, this might be the wrong accomplishment to list on your resume.

·         Be sure to triple check for typos, grammatical mistakes, and punctuation. Even one small typo could be a turn-off to a busy recruiter trying to make a quick impression of your fit for the open position requiring any level of attention to detail.

Lastly, I want you to do a 5-minute check by interacting with your resume as a security recruiter would. Try the following:

·         Call your number on your resume. When was the last time you listened to the outgoing message? Has it changed since your 4-year old recorded it? Change it if it does not sound professional.

·         Check your email address. I have met many people in the security industry with the most witty, clever, and cute email addresses. (I’ll protect the innocent here and not provide examples.) Let’s just say that if your email address sounds like a party animal, a fan club president, or makes anyone giggle – you should change it for your job search. Sign-up for a professional-sounding (OK, boring) email address such as yourfirstname_yourlastname@domain.com.

·         Add the URL to your amazing LinkedIn site. This recommendation requires you to have an amazing Linked-In site. Let’s face our new reality. There is a high probability that hiring managers will search for your name on the internet. Having a Linked-In URL will selectively direct hiring managers away from the photos of you playing beer pong last summer and toward additional information about your education and experiences.

·         Change the name of the file to something descriptive before sending your resume. About 60% of the resumes people send me are named “resume.doc”. Seriously, “Resume.doc” is too generic for a file name and when I save it the last person who sent me a “resume.doc” is lost. You are next. The 3-second solution: call the file something descriptive such as “Your Name’s Resume”.

Does anyone have any suggestions for resumes you’d like to share?  I look forward to hearing them!

Thanks,

David Lammert

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