Your resume information that matters the most, the good stuff that lands interviews, may be hiding in plain sight. Make it visible and put it to work.
Anyone who has been in the workforce for a few years has access to lots of information that could be placed on a resume. But not all resume data is equally critical. To treat it as such is a big mistake, and results in some of the information that employers would be most interested in lying buried in vast plains of boring text. For all practical purposes, it's invisible to human eyes.
Resume Information That's Critical Needs To Be Visible
Here's a positive note: critical keywords and statistics that are buried in text will still be visible to search software that combs through databases looking to match candidates with jobs. But keep in mind that every resume sifted out of a database by software will eventually have to be read by human eyes. And there's the problem. Your resume, once exposed to the light of day, will have 10-15 seconds to sufficiently impress a recruiter or hiring official. Not only will the reader want access to your critical resume information, he or she will want it delivered on a platter.
Let's say you exceeded your targeted return on investment by 17%. Will the reader of your resume be able to pick that out in the allotted 10 seconds? If you increased the number of accounts by 25% in the first 3 months, will that information impress, or be overlooked? If you expanded trust plan participation from 45,000 to 75,000 employees, is that fact presented in a way that will be memorable?
Tips To Make Resume Information Visible, and Memorable
1 - Identify Your Key Selling Points. Know your selling points for the type of position you're seeking. They can be general or specific attributes (i.e. "I have a consultative approach to sales") or quantitative data that supports those attributes (i.e. "I exceeded my sales quota by 20% annually for 5 consecutive years"). Ideally, a combination of both.
2 - Tap A Second Set Of Eyes. Ask a friend or colleague to look over your existing resume and immediately tell you what was most memorable. Did he or she mention your key selling points? If not...
3 - Dig Them Out And Highlight Them. Root out those selling points from the bowels of your resume (they're probably hiding in your "Experience" or "Work History" section), and incorporate them into your either your Objective statement or Summary section, or both. Regarding the Summary (or Profile), two or three descriptive, keyword-rich sentences are fine. But bullet points shout a bit louder for those items you want to really stress. In the example we touched on above, I would incorporate "consultative approach to sales" into a 2-4 line summary text, followed by a bulleted list of 2-4 bullet points, one of which could be the "exceeded my sales quota by 20% annually for 5 consecutive years" statement.
4 - Gargle, Spit And Repeat. OK, forget the gargling and the spitting. But repeat the exercise again with friends and colleagues. Are they picking up on your key selling points now?
Keep in mind that the most memorable part of a resume will be the upper one-half. That's prime real estate, and should be reserved for the information most relevant to your qualifications. For example, if your college education took place a decade ago, it's far less relevant than your recent work experience, and therefore has no place on the upper half of your resume.
If you take nothing else away, take this: Make sure your resume's Objective statement (if you choose to use one) and your Summary section (and you definitely should be using a Summary) incorporate your key selling points, relevant keywords, and brief teasers to your accomplishments.
To give your job search a fighting chance, make sure your most valuable resume information is visible and memorable.