How to Boost Your Resume in 5 Easy Steps

In the internet age, resume writing is still playing catch up. What had worked a decade ago is still being applied today. The best part is people expect it to continue working.

The way resumes are being processed nowadays are significantly different. 10 years ago there were no LinkedIn, online job portals just started out and we still uses fax machines! Fast forward to today we are looking at resume parsing, data analytics, personal branding, video resume, gamified recruitment process, you get the picture.

So why are you still writing your resume based on decade-old advice? Apply these 5 tactics to boost your resume instantly and start shining from the crowd:

1) Identify your ‘hook’:

I would also call this your associative keywords. These would be the keywords that (when searched) will rank you high on the list. The important bit here is the keywords should be identified from the searcher (the recruiter) point of view – the same keywords that recruiters would use when they are mining their database.

To begin, look out for keyword that firstly identify the job nature (e.g. Accountant) and also if there might be any interchangeable terms (perhaps Finance?). Now Accountant is a very broad term. You would want to differentiate yourself with a niche. However this niche should also be appear commonly in the job you are looking for. (E.g. Cost Accountant for manufacturing industry)

2) Compare with what you are looking for:

This is one of my favourite hacks. Firstly identify 3 to 5 ideal jobs from online portals and copy their entire content. Just go to any word cloud generator website and create the word cloud for each of them. Now do one more cloud with your existing resume.

Compare and contrast. If you are reading this, chances are your own word cloud would deviate significantly from the rest of the word clouds. Here is where you identify 5 – 8 common keywords from them and prepare to re-write your resume with them in mind.

3) Make sure your resume is applicant tracking system friendly:

Applicant tracking systems are used by organisations to manage the flood of applications they receive. They will read your resume, and then rank and score your applications vs. the job descriptions. Only those applicants who receive high scores will get a call for an interview.

Always use a standard Word document, and save in .doc format: File/Save As/Word 97-2003. Many ATS still cannot process .docx, PDF, RTF, and JPG formats. And remember to use simple formatting – avoid putting important information into headers, footers, borders, tables, etc. As much as it is a computer system, it is one that prefers simplicity.

4) Improve resume parsing accuracy:

Many companies also realize the lengthy online application forms is killing off interest. So to compensate, they look to resume parser to scan your resume and automatically fill in the forms for you.

The tech is pretty old but accuracy improvement has only been marginal. Especially when it comes to names as the system were designed for the western markets. Still there are ways to make sure things don’t get misinterpreted.

Importantly, use clear and simple categorisation when it comes to different sections so the parser would know what is what. E.g. Personal Information, Executive Summary, Work Experience, Education, Skills. And under Work Experience, always list.

Grammar can also easily make the parser confused. E.g. some write it as Microsoft PowerPoint and others Microsoft PPT. To be safe, echo how it is written in the job description. And parser only read text, not graphics. Any extraneous formatting or graphical elements on the resume only get in the way.

5) Sequence that appeals to recruiters:

There was a research by TheLadders that recruiters spend an average of six seconds on your resume before deciding if they should read more or move on. In the short time that they spend on your résumé, recruiters look at your name, current title and company, current position start and end dates, previous title and company, previous position start and end dates, and education.

Your resume should be done in the same sequence to make it easier for the recruiters’ tired eyes to read without compromise.

Author: Adrian is the co-founder and former Managing Director of RecruitPlus Consulting, an award-winning mid-career professional recruitment agency based in Singapore. A recruiter with more than 10 years of experience owning, managing and growing staffing businesses, he is now running CareerLadder that provides recruitment training and career coaching services.

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