You only have a handful of seconds to grab the attention of recruiters with your résumé. How do you write a résumé that grabs their attention? What do you include in your résumé? What mistakes should you avoid when writing a résumé in today’s saturated job market? The following are five proven tips to write a résumé that stands out to recruiters.
1. Begin with a high-impact career summary.
Avoid the mistake of beginning your résumé with an objective statement. It is evident what your objective is—to land a job. In today’s job market, the résumé objective can be replaced with a career summary that synthesizes your experience, knowledge and skills.
The goal of your career summary is to quickly demonstrate why you are qualified to be interviewed. This career summary should be so powerful that the recruiter wants to interview you without needing to read the remainder of your résumé. You can use these questions to craft a powerful career summary:
- What industry experience do you bring to the table?
- What relevant knowledge and specialized skills do you possess?
- What are your biggest strengths?
2. Draw attention to your career accomplishments.
An effective résumé showcases more than just your previous job duties. Rather than providing a laundry list of your previous job duties, focus most of your résumé on marketing your accomplishments and results. In other words, ask yourself how you communicate the value you delivered to each organization. I encourage my clients to reflect on these powerful questions as they craft accomplishment statements for their résumés:
- What sets you apart from industry peers?
- How have you saved the organization time, money and other resources?
- Why would the CEO and shareholders care about your contributions to the organization?
In addition to incorporating accomplishments into each of your positions, consider including a "Career Highlights" section immediately under your summary. This section can be used to quickly draw attention to your most significant and relevant career achievements. Moreover, you can move big career wins from five or 10-plus years ago to the top of your résumé so they grab recruiters’ attention.
3. Include relevant industry keywords.
Keywords are an important part of writing a résumé that catches the attention of recruiters. Inserting relevant keywords into your résumé makes it easier for sourcers and recruiters to track down your résumé within their applicant tracking system (ATS). They also make it easier for recruiters to connect the dots between your experience and their job requisition.
I advise setting a timer for 20 minutes for each résumé you submit. Then, use that time to customize your résumé to the target role. I recommend including a “key strengths” section near the top of your résumé with relevant keywords from the job posting. Then, add keywords throughout your accomplishments. One of the easiest and most effective ways to do this is to add the keyword to the very beginning of your accomplishment statements.
4. Highlight what sets you apart from other applicants.
In addition to marketing your experience, accomplishments and relevant keywords, think about how you communicate your unique value proposition with your résumé. I call this identifying and sharing what makes you fabulous. You will increase your chances of hearing back from recruiters if you proactively showcase what sets you apart from other candidates.
- How is your experience unique from other applicants?
- What distinct knowledge and skills do you bring to the company and position?
- What is special about your leadership style and approach?
Reflect on these questions, then weave your answers throughout your résumé. Inject your fabulousness into your career summary, highlights and accomplishments.