Here’s how many job seekers update their resumes:
- They add their most recent credentials
- They make it chronological
- They worry about the font and formatting
- They add meaningless "fluff" words to sound important
- They fudge a little and claim they're “detail oriented” when they know they aren't
They do what they’ve always done. What they’ve been told to do. What everyone else does. And then, they wonder why they get the results everyone else gets.
The approach to follow will challenge you to think outside of your comfort zone, but it will pay back in spades. People who take a different approach are the ones who stand out.
Step #1: Understand That Your Resume is NOT About You
Your resume is about telling a story. It’s the story of why you are a perfect fit for the position and company, and why or how you will help the hiring manager look great for having found you.
It is not about your personal, chronological, bio, or what you did in college, or the 3 committees you served on in your last position. It is about WHY those credentials are relevant to this current opportunity.
Your resume is not about you!
It’s about what you can do for the company.
Instead of thinking, “Here are all the ways I am great!” which is how we are traditionally taught to think about the job application, I want you to ask yourself, “Why would the recruiter or hiring manager care?”
Let’s say you were on the board of a local charter school for 4 years. You could list this as a bullet in your extracurricular activities section, making the recruiter do all the work to figure out why it matters.
What did you do as a board member? How much money did you raise? What programs did you develop? How many kids were affected? These are the kinds of things the recruiter needs to know. Depending on the company, you can decide how much or how little detail to include.
For every single line you elect to keep on your resume, I want you to ask, “Why would the recruiter care?”
Then answer that question with the content you place on your resume.
Don’t restrict yourself. Try and put yourself in the hiring manager's shoes. What kind of person are they looking for? What kind of skills? How does this experience that you’ve had link you to what they need?
That’s what you want to write.
(Need help with your resume? We've got you covered!)
Step #2: Do Your Homework & Do Your Research
Candidates whose resumes stand out do a lot of work before they ever started applying to positions. They do a ton of background research on the company's roles and the departments they’re applying to. You can do the same!
1. Start broadly, reading the company’s website and job description.
2. Then, use Google to find relevant news articles on the company.
3. Next check out existing employees on LinkedIn to see what they have in common.
4. Finally, look at competitors - how one company is different from another when you look at their competition?
It’s worth mentioning that there really is no “wrong” way to do research.
There are really only two categories of research: “thorough” or “not thorough enough.” And you, want to make sure you are thorough. Keep your eyes open and looking for information, and you’ll find nuggets that will help you.
This doesn’t have to take you a long time, but you should do enough homework that if someone asked you about the company you could explain who they are, what they do, their products and or services, how they position themselves in the market, and who their competition is.
The more you know about the company you’re applying to, the greater you can tailor your experience and application.
Step #3: Tailor EACH Resume You Send Out
Once you’ve done sufficient and thorough research on the companies you want to apply to, that’s when you can begin to assemble your company-specific resume, one that is uniquely tailored to that specific company.
Yes, I’m telling you to have a different resume for each job you apply to.
Every job you apply to should have a different, uniquely tailored resume. That means you’re tailoring your resume according to the things you know are pertinent to that company, that position, that department, and that team. Top candidates never apply randomly to jobs and neither should you.
Your company-specific resume will communicate fit before you ever actually talk to the gatekeeper, as well as showcase that you’ve done your homework. It demonstrates that you are intentional, methodical, and deliberate. It’s where the rubber meets the road.
Here’s what I mean:
An in-house Business Analyst position at a tech company is going to have VERY different expectations of you than a position as a Business Analyst Consultant at a Fortune 500 consulting firm.
For the tech company you’d want to demonstrate relevant experience in being self-sufficient, needing little guidance, and having high risk tolerance. This could mean highlighting side projects you’ve completed or things in which it is obvious you took the initiative.
For the Fortune 500, you’d want to highlight your familiarity with corporate environments, structure and your loyalty. This could mean, for example, long-term commitment to past projects. These companies tend to keep you for a long time and hire from within - so you’d want to show them you’re not looking to jump ship anytime soon.
As you decide what to include in order to appeal to a company, ask yourself:
- What does this company value?
- What kind of people does this company usually hire?
- Is it a conservative company or a more modern one?
- Is the department I’m applying to a conservative department despite the company being non-traditional?
- Does the company value time off and family or external interests?
The secret to a resume that stands out is never the format, ink, type of bullet points, paper weight, color of the paper, or whether you put the date before or after the job title.
The secret to a resume that stands out is the STRATEGY.
By being strategic with your resume so that it speaks directly to what the hiring manager is looking for and underscores the right experience and credentials, your resume will pass through each phase of the hiring process.
Instead of a run-of-the-mill laundry list of experiences, certifications, and credentials, build your resume the right way. Challenge convention and do something different.