Updated: February 19, 2012 8:03AM
As we start a new year, many may be thinking it is time for a new job. Or, for the unemployed, a new year may bring renewed hope of finding employment. One of the first keys to getting a recruiter interested is to have an appealing resume. And for those who have not searched for a job in the last decade, creating and submitting resumes has changed dramatically.
“A resume won’t get you the job,” said certified career coach Jody Eriksen. “It will however open doors to opportunity.”
Eriksen tells job seekers that the resume is not about the job seeker; it is about what a potential employer needs. It is a piece of advertising enticing those who do the hiring to find out more.
“This changes people dramatically,” said Eriksen. “A resume is about your potential employer and their needs, their expectations, their wants and your ability to reach back into your history and give examples of yourself in a ... way so that they can forecast what you’re going to do for them in the future.”
According to Eriksen, many companies have some form of software that screens resumes. The software utilizes keyword searches, flags candidates with those words on their resumes and then sends the resume on to human resources.
“If your resume doesn’t include the keywords that the human resource person indicates are essential keywords ... you won’t get pulled out of the pile,” said Eriksen. “If it has specific words it is looking for, those words need to be in your resume.”
To find the necessary keywords, utilize the job description. And if the job description does not offer much, find similar job listings and extrapolate keywords from there. Eriksen cautions against doing a laundry list of keywords on a resume, which is not attractive, but instead imbed the words in achievements on the resume. And, while targeting a resume for each job sounds like a lot of work, Eriksen says it can be made easier by doing work upfront and structuring a job search strategy so that the jobs you are searching for are very similar.
As far as making the resume appealing to the eye, Arun Mehrotra, computer lab associate with the Naperville Public Library, says that resumes need to be clean and easily readable. Recently, Mehrotra held a worship at the library discussing how to tailor a resume so that what is created is what the recruiter receives. One way to ensure that happens is to send the document as a text only version in Microsoft Word. As a text only version, everything is aligned to the left, the document is free of all the graphics that the employer’s computer system may not read and eliminates formatting errors.
Joe Strunewitz of Naperville attended Mehrotra’s workshop, realizing that he needed assistance in the electronic aspect of sending a resume. Strunewitz has been unemployed since March, and last searched for a job 13 years ago. Even though he knew Word, he realized he was not as knowledgeable as he had thought.
“Why was my resume going unnoticed?” said Strunewitz. “There was something wrong. That’s why I sought out advice and information.”
Eriksen adds that most computer software programs can read asterisks, bold and spaces. Therefore, to highlight something use an asterisk (not a bullet) and use bold (don’t underline).
“It won’t be pretty, but it won’t irritate the reviewer,” said Eriksen. “It’ll be clear. They fully expect it not to be attractive. They want it to be functional.”
Another option is to attach a resume as a PDF file because the formatting will not change when it is uploaded or sent in an email.
Eriksen says, “If you can spoon-feed your background and information in a way that’s appealing and attractive and excites the reader then you’ve done your job.”