3 tweaks to your experience that turns resumes into interviews
Wondering what makes your resume stand out? If you're customizing your resume for every job application you're definitely on the right path.
But constant customization leads to errors and complacency.
And one of the most common errors we see in resumes is how people describe their experience, the most important part of a resume to a recruiter or hiring manager.
We know that customizing your resume for every job application can be an exhausting exercise, but the harsh truth is the readers don't care. You only get one shot to impress the recruiter so every customization has to be spot on.
So in this week's post, we wanted to provide you with three 3 simple tweaks to remember for each customization of your resume that will protect the integrity of your resume as you customize it.
#1 Be relevant
Being relevant is the foundation of your customization. The most common mistake we see 90% of job seekers making on their resume is that they feel the need to drown their resume with every detail of their experience.
I was at a conference yesterday where someone stated that their resume was SIX pages long!
(And he was wondering why he wasn't getting calls for interviews)
Don't give the recruiter a newspaper to read. Use the job description to filter out all the experience that you do not need to include on your resume.
I once read that a perfect design is created not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
Keep it simple, keep it relevant. At the resume reviewing stage, all the reader cares about is if you can do what's on the job description. The rest of your experience will be brought to light at the interview (or your LinkedIn profile)
#2 How much, How Long, So what, and Why Me?
So once you know what is relevant to the job, avoid the temptation to list out your experience like a complacent laundry list of tasks. You might be struggling with the effort of another customization, but tiredness on your end translates to laziness on the reader's end.
Here's a simple exercise you can perform. For every task you list out, ask yourself "How much" or "So What?" or "How Long" or "Why Me?"
You'll know when to stop when you realize why that task made a difference.
We'll use my favorite job as an example - Account Receivables
You may have the following task in your resume:
- 'Collected payment dues owed by customers during month end financial closing.'
- 'We collected about 85% of what was owed. Our target was 80%"
- Before I joined the company, the department was collecting 65% with payments overdue by more than 12 months. After I joined, we brought that up to 85%.
- I did that 3 months after I joined.
So now, that task can be restructured as follows:
- I improved payments due by customers by 20% in 3 months, totaling 85%. I exceeded our targets by 5%.
If you are concerned that the above statement sounds like bragging, don't be. Recruiters and hiring managers in North America want to see your accomplishments and the difference you made to your previous organizations.
Never downplay your accomplishments, because then you run the risk of sounding just like everyone else. Trust us when we say that the jobs are being awarded to the braggers.
#3 Use an active voice
That leads us to a final tweak - using powerful action verbs to start your experience sentences. This is referred to as having an active voice in your resume. Here is an example:
"20% of payments due by customers were improved in 3 months" (Passive Voice)
"Improved 20% of payments due to customers in 3 months" (Active Voice)
The difference is subtle, but to the reader, it matters. The first passive sentence sounds like you may not have been involved in this improvement. But the second passive sentence sounds like you were directly responsible for the improvement, which is the truth and the reader should know the truth.
Here is another example:
"A new filing system was designed that reduced month-end reporting time by 3 hours" (Passive Voice)
"I designed a new filing system that reduces month-end reporting time by 3 hours" (Active Voice)
Here, we added the "I" before the action verb in the beginning - still acceptable. Here is a great list of action verbs to choose from to start your experience sentences.
The point is to make sure that your involvement and accomplishment in the task is highlighted and made clear to the hiring manager reading your resume.
So the next time you customize your resume's experience section, keep these 3 tweaks in mind.
The goal is always to stand out from your competition.
Most people applying for the same job probably did the same tasks as you.
The only way your resume can stand out is if it clearly states your accomplishments and the difference you made to your organization.