The military taught you their way of doing everything from making your bed to doing your job. The civilian world also has its rules and regulations, but there's no basic training to teach you how to be a civilian employee, and the rules aren't always clear. Resumes are especially precarious; even most civilians have a difficult time understanding how to write them well and catch the eye of hiring managers. While you should be as much research on the subject as you can, here are the top 8 resume items that recruiters notice immediately. Inspired by A Plus.
1. Most Recent Role – Your resume might be two pages or half of one, but what catches every hiring manager's eye is your current or most recent role. Why? Because it tells them what professional framework you're coming from. You might be hopping roles within the industry from one company to the other. Or, you might be coming from somewhere completely different. It's important to keep this in mind when writing your cover letter and tweaking your line items under the first role. If your most recent role matches the job you're applying for, then you need to emphasize how much expertise you've accrued over the years. If you're jumping into something completely new, try to cater your experience to the new position, and make sure that you clearly define why you're switching and how you'll benefit the new company.
2. The Names of Your Previous Places of Work – Big names are recognizable and may influence how a hiring manager views your work experience. If you worked at a retail outlet known for professionalism and décor, they might assume that you have great customer service skills. If you worked for a startup that floundered for a year then crashed, they might believe that you have a strong work ethic and no how to juggle multiple roles. There are no guarantees to how someone might view your resume based on the companies you worked for, but keep their reputation in mind when composing a cover letter or in an interview.
3. Work Experience – Although a lot goes into a resume, your work experience serves as its core. Hiring managers want to see if your experience matches their expectations for the role. For many positions, it's important for them to see that you've steadily progressed over time. Promotions and other advances within a company speak to your drive and work ethic. While lacking progression in experience won't outright destroy your chances at landing a job, it can make your attempt a little more difficult.
4. Keywords and Phrases – Clear and concise writing is always the rule when it comes to resumes, but the digital age has brought about a new resume standard: keywords. It might seem impersonal and robotic, but keywords help employers easily identify how in-the-know an applicant is. Just like the military has unique jargon that only other troops would know, civilian industries tend to feature terms that only other professionals would know. Featuring these types of keywords on your resume help employers mark you as someone who's in the know. Even if you don't have much experience in your potentially new profession, do some research online and figure out how to talk the talk.
5. Gaps in Experience – If you've formatted your resume well, it shouldn't be hard for hiring mangers to find gaps in your work history if there are any. Like anything else, these aren't inherently bad. Maybe you took time off to raise a baby, or you tried your and at running your own company. If you don't have a stellar explanation as to why, the best thing you can do is be honest about the gap, even if you don't want to discuss the details.
6. Digital Trail – While it won't be immediately apparent on your resume, employers will be able to use the information you put down to discover more about you online. Something as simple as a google search can yield a plethora of information, and many employers have tools that go beyond basic search engine functionality. Always monitor how you appear on public search engines, and manage your social media accounts for anything that might damage your potential as a candidate. Beyond eliminating the bad stuff, think about how you can use your public info. as a way to showcase who you are.
7. Where You're Located – Why do you put your address at the top of your resume? Because employers need to contact you, but they also need to know where you live. If you're living on the West Coast and are applying for jobs in Virginia, employers need to consider the logistics of moving you, and possibly your immediate family, across the country.
8. Your Ability to Organize – Are your soft business skills up to date? The formatting of your resume will help broadcast the answer to that question. If your resume isn't formatted to be clear and concise, you'll quickly lose points with most hiring managers.
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