Don’t focus exclusively on the design or pretty colors in a resume too much. Don’t let that be your ‘be all and end all’.
Having an aesthetically pleasing resume template is important, it helps you stand out. However, once you’ve attracted the eye of the recruiter it’s the content of the resume that will make or break you!
The aim here is to demonstrate true value to the employer through hard-hitting content in your resume.
You may have heard of the phrase ‘selling, not telling’?
You must show the reader that you have the ability to do the job, that much is obvious. However, that just puts you in the same bucket as all those other people who are as equally qualified as you.
Why is content important?
Ultimately, it’s the content that will make the real difference.
It’s the content that will get you past an Applicant Tracking System.
It’s the content that has the potential to WOW a reader if you’re able to tell them what you can do.
It’s the content that will have the potential to differentiate you from every other applicant.
It’s the content that will secure you the interview.
Who or what will be reading this content?
Hopefully, a human being will at some point read your content! That’ the goal.
Quite often though, you may have to navigate an Applicant Tracking System (a machine that scans your resume looking for content that matches your target job description).
It’s estimated in some quarters that over 98% of job applicants using an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) were sucked into the black hole, never to be seen by an actual human.
Why? Simply because they did not meet the basic criteria and/or there weren’t enough content matches found to merit them being taken forward to the next review stage.
So, how do you maximize your chances of popping out the other end of the ATS?
First of all, you’ll need an ATS friendly version of your resume. You can’t use a resume template that hides text behind a text box. If your template uses text boxes, most ATS will not be able to scan the content. It will scan as a blank page. That’s not good.
All of my resumes come with an ATS-friendly resume template for you to use in conjunction with your pretty, formatted document.
What about the human?
Of course! When your resume lands on the desk of a hiring manager, your content must be hard-hitting and effective enough that you stand out, and communicate clearly to the reader all of the wonderful things you’ve done in the past, and what you could do for their company now and in the future.
Below you’ll find an example of content in an executive’s resume. The content in the original resume did not ‘sell’ to the reader. It merely told the reader of the activities conducted in this role.
Take a look;
-Hired to lead a large, multi-disciplinary team in managing day-to-day business operations with a global scope. Responsible for generating revenue, reducing costs, and handling an environmental crisis.
-Responsible for developing strategy, handling commercial contracts, conducting business negotiations, managing mergers & acquisitions, and identifying opportunities for improvement.
-Prepared materials for the board of directors and external agencies and acted as the company representative on various external committees and boards. Delivered presentations to industry groups, regulatory authorities, and media as needed.
-Managed recruitment of senior managers and conducted performance appraisals. Oversaw financial strength of company and made recommendations for improvement.
Is that good enough? The applicant didn’t think so, and neither did I.
Now, let’s sell this person’s skills and experience – I wrote the content below;
-Unanimously chosen by the board of directors to provide unimpeachable leadership to a once proud energy powerhouse left reeling by an ‘at-fault’ environmental catastrophe and loss of multiple lucrative contracts. Forged an iron-clad grip on existing legal challenges, personally re-negotiated and rescued $1B in development contracts, and successfully re-branded the company as a paragon of environmentalism.
Actions & Results:
-Invigorating Leadership: Sounded the clarion call for all employees to stand-up and pour their heart & soul into helping return the company to glory after the damaging E-1 Environmental Disaster. Developed a world-class environmental strategy designed to exceed all Federal requirements. Completed the company’s redemption by securing the world’s first-ever ‘Energy Friends of the Environment’ award.
-Profit Increase & Cost Reduction: Generated significant profit increases despite challenging economic conditions and overseas operations being burdened with uncertainty surrounding regional security. Closed a $2B strategic acquisition and boosted sales of plastics, polymers, and resins by $800M.
-Long-Term Security: Liberated $2B in cash by disposing of faltering product lines and subsidiary companies, and rapidly adjusted to oil market collapse by shifting focus to low-cost conventional vertical plays with best-in-industry assets. Currently positioned for phenomenal revenue growth upon market reversal.
Which version of this resume entry do you think sells the applicant’s skills and experience more effectively?
The content is radically different. In the original resume, the applicant used content that most people would have expected them to perform in a role at that level.
The new content focused almost exclusively on the value-add delivered by that person in the role. That’s a key difference.
If this job applicant had been applying for a role through an ATS, we would look to include relevant content from the target job description as well.