Every job seeker knows that a strong resume is essential to getting hired, but many applicants focus on the obvious: proper grammar, keyword inclusion, easy-to-read formatting and customizing for the job description. This technical focus often results in a lackluster resume, similar to everyone else's. Instead make your resume stand out with the addition of these five key items to show that you're ahead of the rest and worthy of the next interview.
1. An Attention-Grabbing Opening
Whether you start your strong resume with a career summary or a more personal statement, this introductory section needs to leave an impression. Don't be afraid to be bold. Your goal is to get the reader to continue reading with an eye toward calling you in for an interview. Think about what makes you a stronger candidate than the other applicants. Then incorporate that uniqueness in a way that makes the interviewer curious to get to know you better.
Most contemporary hiring managers read resumes in their digital format. Including hyperlinks makes it easy for the reviewer to learn more about you through your online content. If you are an artist or writer, include a link to your online portfolio, or examples of your published work. Add a link to your professional social media account or your professionally oriented website if you have one.
3. Quantified Accomplishments
Most job hunters know that a list of accomplishments, as opposed to responsibilities, is critical for a strong resume. Take that advice one step further by adding metrics to some of your top accomplishments. "Increased sales by 25 percent during my first year" is much stronger than simply saying that you increased sales. Likewise, "spearheaded the development of eight new products" gives more information than simply stating that you successfully led a research and development team. This type of data gives the hiring manager a clearer picture of what exactly you have done, increasing your chances of getting hired.
4. Volunteer Experience
Create a strong resume by listing volunteer work to show that you care about others and the world around you. Most volunteer positions also require skills that relate back to your career. Do you coach your child's Little League team? This requires organizational skills, teaching, handling paperwork and dealing with people from different generations. Even something as simple as serving food at a homeless shelter once a month requires a time commitment on your part and the ability to follow directions plus the desire to help.
5. Special Recognitions
Avoid the tendency to be modest and gloss over honors or awards that you have received. Build a strong resume by listing any industry recognitions including awards you may have garnered at previous jobs. Depending on the length of your career, consider adding college awards, including honors received at graduation or any honor societies to which you belonged. If you are a fairly recent graduate, list your final GPA if it is 3.7 or higher.
Crafting a strong resume requires a little time and thought. Try to put yourself in the hiring manager's position. What would impress you? Start with the basics plus an enticing summary. Then add in enough hard data, community engagement, live web links and award information to make your resume stand out.
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