The job market is tough. There is a never-ending stream of applicants for a limited number of jobs. That seems to be the case year after year. And with every passing year, it becomes more and more challenging to get seen as a possible hire.
In fact, according to the 2018 Jobvite Recruiting Benchmark Report, 12% of candidates applied for jobs and got an interview. Of those interviewed, 28% left with a job offer. Those are good odds, and as long as your resume is one of the many placed on top of the “potential” pile, your chances are strong.
But that’s the key—creating a resume that makes recruiters want to bring you in for an interview. When those members of HR are viewing countless resumes, you need every advantage you can get. Unfortunately, following the same, tired advice handed out to everyone by the same resources might not get you the results you’re looking for.
Because of that, I want to offer up some resume advice you’ve probably never heard before. Of course, with any such advice, your mileage may vary. With that said, let’s get on with the advice.
Know Your Audience
You’ve probably heard people tell you to never address a cover letter to “To whom it may concern”. Why? Because it makes it very clear you have not spent any time researching who you’re looking to work with. That’s not a good move. You always want to have a name to stick on top of that letter.
But this is a resume, not a cover letter. You don’t address a resume to anyone in particular. However, knowing who will be viewing that resume is far more important than you think.
For instance, what if in your digging around you discover the person who’ll be combing through that stack of resumes is a huge Star Trek fan. With that tiny bit of information, you can then plant a small easter egg in your resume that lets them know you can and will defeat the Kobayashi Maru.
You might think that’s a dangerous game to play (putting easter eggs in your resume, not the Kobayashi Maru), but when you plant some genius and subtle hint, it’ll win you quite the favor. When you’re going against applicants who may be part of any number of IT outsourcing services, you can use all the help you can get.
It’s all fine and good to include all of those related skills on your resume. But then again, who can’t use MS Office? What programmer doesn’t know how to use an Integrated Development Environment? Looking to be hired as a network administrator? Chances are everyone on that list knows how to do IP subnetting.
However, will everyone be applying for that position to know how to teach IP subnetting to elementary-age children? What about how to use an IDE to develop a new IDE that doesn’t behave like an IDE at all? Or juggling? Improvisation skills? Do you have a minor in stage management which has helped you to develop incredible collaboration skills?
Get creative in that skills section. Don’t settle for listing a generic table of hard and soft skills that are sure to put any given interviewer to sleep. Wake that person up with a skill or two that’ll throw their minds for a curious loop. Make them think, “That could be an interesting talent to have around.”
There are no hard and fast rules in listing out skills. So don’t bother trying to follow some mold that won’t get you noticed. Dare to be unique.
Create Your Own Template
In the never-ending quest to stand out, stop using the same old resume templates that everyone else is using. You can pull out random resumes from every pile on every desk of every recruiter and clear and obvious patterns will appear.
Don’t let that happen to you.
Now, you’re probably asking yourself, “But isn’t there a reason why those templates are so frequently used?” The answer is, “Yes. Because too many people forget to think for themselves.” If you want to stand out, stand out. Grab yourself a word processing app or desktop publishing app, shrug off those templates, and get creative. Layout your resume in such a fashion that anyone viewing will automatically have to give it a second and third look.
After a few hours of viewing resumes, they all look the same. In fact, they may as well all have the same contents and data points. Why? Because it’s all a wash. Everyone blends together in a beige, 12 pt-Times-New-Roman sea of sameness.
Instead of falling victim to that trap, find a new way to layout your resume. Be bold and carve your own path. Do, however, make sure that your wild creativity doesn’t prevent that resume from being easily read.
In the same way, you tucked a fun little easter egg into that resume, plant a number of self-affirming nods. In other words, this is your chance to pat yourself on the back. You weren’t just a lead on Project X, you were the lead for the Award Winning Project X. And if that award carries with it a certain cache of prestige, name it.
This is your one page shot at shining an intensely bright light on your achievements. Don’t pull back. Of course, at the same time, don’t come off as too much of a braggart. Use those “Look what I did” wisely and they’ll carry you far.
In the end, you have to stop following the lead and be the leader. That means treating your resume as an incredibly unique opportunity to show a company why you are the IT outsourcing person they are looking for. With a little creativity, you can ensure all eyes stop when your resume lands on top of the pile.
Interesting Related Article: “Tips For Creating A Well-Crafted Resume“