Transitioning career professionals and novice job seekers alike understand the value of a compelling resume as their primary self-marketing tool. In spite of this awareness, important key elements that should be included are often omitted or forgotten. Increase your chances of being selected for an interview by including key elements job seekers often fail to include on their resumes.
1. Achievements and Awards
Surprisingly, the section most likely to be absent from a person's resume is one that emphasizes accomplishments in previous jobs, according to an article by Dawn Rasmussen of Pathfinder Writing and Career Services on WorkItDaily.com. Even when present, a common error lists achievements near the bottom of the resume where it's least likely to be noticed. However, the hiring manager or potential employer should immediately see what distinguishes you from other candidates.
This section should appear either as a separate subheading in the first third of the first page of your resume after your education and skills, or you may choose to list specific achievements pertaining to each past job immediately following your summary of responsibilities while in that position. It should mention any special honors or commendations you've earned for outstanding performance and service. Don't be shy when showcasing where you excel professionally.
Avoid broad generalizations and use quantifiable metrics when writing about your achievements. Describe what you've accomplished using percentages, numbers and monetary amounts where appropriate. For example, don't just state that you 'improved employee retention' in your last job as a human resources manager. Instead, clarify that you 'designed and implemented a new employee performance incentive program that increased employee retention by 75%.'
2. Online Presence
Linking to your career-focused social media profiles and online presence can be a valuable addition to your professional resume, so be sure to include the URL for your LinkedIn profile, plus any career-focused website or online portfolio that you maintain. This information should be listed just after your name at the top of your resume.
Only include those aspects of your online presence that are used for networking with other industry professionals and are relevant to the position for which you are applying. Photos of your pets or your recent high school reunion may not be of interest to a potential employer, as is also the case with your personal blog.
If submitting your resume digitally, consider hyperlinking your online portfolio or professional website. This would allow samples of your work to be only a click away from decision-makers. An interior designer, for example, who maintains photos of his or her work on Pinterest could show potential clients and design firms actual photos of completed work.
Any active memberships that are affiliated with your industry can help you to stand out as a job candidate, so it's important to include this information on your resume. Don't make the mistake of thinking that the clubs you belong to are unimportant.
Listing your involvement in organizations such as the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) or American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) in a separate section of your resume transmits the message that you are interested in staying current with changes and developments in your field, and that you network with like-minded individuals on a regular basis. Be sure to note any leadership positions you have held within each organization, or currently hold.
5. Volunteer Work
Your activities in your community as a volunteer are also a plus to include on your resume. Good examples of this would be the architect who volunteers each year with Habitat for Humanity, or the teacher who donates a few hours each week or month to tutor at a local Boys and Girls Club.
Not only does mentioning of your outreach activities reflect well on your character, but it also signals that you may be the type of person willing to do more than merely the minimum of what is expected of you.
5. Resume Keywords
Resume keywords are a relatively new concept in the field of human resources. The 21st century has brought changes to our society that have forever altered the way that we communicate, live and conduct business. Many companies now digitally scan resumes in order to find likely applicants for jobs using certain keywords specific to the position or discipline in which they operate. Resumes without these keywords may receive no response at all.
An easy way for you to make sure that you are using your industry's relevant keywords throughout your resume is to carefully study both the target job listing that interests you, and several others that mention similar positions. Notice the words and phrases that are most frequently repeated. If you see a pattern of these, then they are likely keywords that you need to employ. As you do this, focus on the top three things that employers are looking for and show how you can provide them using words and phrases that command attention in your field.
- An accounting resume is not likely to receive a response if the phrase, "GAAP best practices" is missing.
- A resume for a design engineer should mention "proficiency in CAD (computer-aided drafting/design) software" (with the particular software package specifically named).
- A website designer/programmer or a writer for an online website should understand SEO (search engine optimization) and state this on their resume.
Keywords are industry-specific and subject to change over time. Jobscan is an online tool that will let you know how your resume measures up against others in the field to which you are applying.
A Brave New World
Resumes today bear little resemblance to the resumes of generations past. To truly stand out as a winning candidate for any position today, you not only have to show that you are genuinely qualified for the job, but you also need to demonstrate how your particular mix of talents, activities and experiences sets you apart from others. Use the tips provided here to help avoid the omission of important information in your resume and make it more likely that you'll be listed among the top candidates to be contacted for an interview.