There are few things as frustrating as carefully and meticulously crafting a resume, applying for job openings, then waiting for weeks to hear...nothing. It’s a common concern amongst job-seekers. What’s so wrong with your resume that no company you’ve applied to has contacted you for an interview?

It turns out that if your resume is missing just a few components, that might be enough for it to be overlooked if it’s even viewed at all. An overwhelming majority of major companies use applicant tracking systems to scan resumes for matching keywords; if your resume is lacking in this area, it won’t even make it to an employer’s inbox. What can you do to improve your resume so that it gets the look it --- and you --- deserve? Here are 5 essential tips to get your resume seen, so you get the interview you want.

1. Know your keywords

Choose keywords that apply to the position you are interested in. You can pull keywords from the job posting itself or do some digging around on the company’s website. Look at the company’s “About Us” page or mission statement to locate signal terms that their applicant tracking systems might scan for in a resume.

Be sure to place those keywords toward the top of your resume. Consider starting with your name and contact information followed by a summary and a series of keywords that outline your abilities and competencies. When the tracking systems scan your resume, those keywords will hit, and you may get a call for an interview.

2. Show some personality

Many applicants operate under the theory that generic and bland resumes are better than applications that are creative or stand out from others. The concern is about leaving an impression of professionalism, and that is vitally important; however, employers want an initial sense about who you are and what makes you different from the hundreds of other people applying for the job. That’s where showing your personality can have a positive impact on your resume’s reception.

After you list your academic qualifications and work experience, share what you do outside of work that showcases your personality. The International Career Institute suggests giving your resume some flavour by including goals, milestones and community involvement, such as volunteering or other forms of civic engagement.

While experience, results, and a strong work ethic are all desirable qualities an employer wants in an employee, likeability results in more interviews and more employment opportunities. Shared interests, empathy, and friendliness go a long way to getting your foot in the door, so don’t be afraid to emphasize those qualities in your resume.

3. Include relevant experience only

Relevant work experiences are a top priority for employers, but the key term here to remember is “relevant.” One of the most common mistakes job applicants make is submitting a resume that includes previous job experiences that are outdated or not pertinent to the open position. It isn’t necessary to list every job you’ve had on your resume; prospective employers want to see a resume that highlights only the projects, roles and experiences that pertain to the position in question.

If you aren’t sure how to choose the right job histories to include on your resume, consider these pointers:
  • Decide which work experiences are most related to the position. Place that information early on in your resume.
  • Include recent projects, experiences and accomplishments in bullet form. List these items first in your career history.
  • Avoid including anything from over 10 years ago unless it reveals a natural progression within your specific career field.

If you are a recent college graduate with work experience that is not directly related to the job listing, use your work experience to tell a story that highlights your skills and abilities as appropriate for the new position.

4. Make your resume professional and neat

Spend the time necessary to create a visually exciting resume. Most recruiters and employers spend an average of 6 seconds on a resume before deciding on a job seeker’s candidacy. They are more compelled to engage with a resume if it has pertinent content delivered in a visually engaging manner.

Lay out your resume clearly with a well-written summary and enough white space to emphasise your profile, education, work experience and any other career achievements or items of note about you as a candidate. Avoid using fancy fonts or graphic elements that will distract from the main point of the resume: you.

5. Be clear, concise and specific

An error too often made on resumes is a dependency upon wordiness. Don’t fall into the trap of using cliched phrases (“team player,” “thinking outside of the box,” “able to work outside my comfort zone”) as these terms can clutter up your resume and waste valuable space. Steer clear of generic terms, using ten words to say what you can in five, and engaging in meaningless jargon and hackneyed phrases.

Use fresh, clear, concise language that is specific in its intent. Your resume will be more engaging and memorable if you say what you mean without depending on excess wordiness to do it for you.

Improve your resume and get that interview

With these tips, you can give your resume the upgrade it may need. Don’t waste more time worrying about why you haven’t heard anything about previous job applications. Implement these changes to your resume and get ready for the interview you want and deserve.

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