Visual Guide: How to Create a Resume That Gets You the Dream Job

Business.com / Careers / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Four easy tips plus a visual guide on how to tailor your resume to every job description in five minutes. Read more to get more callbacks.

How do you get a hiring manager to fall in love with your resume at first sight?

Well, it helps if you speak their language.

Hiring managers have the unfortunate luck of having to scan hundreds of resumes for a candidate that is going to be a good fit for the company, have the skills and experience they need, and not waste their time and money.

To weed out the worst candidates first, hiring managers will either send resumes through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) or speed read them in about six seconds.

In both cases, the bots and the hiring managers are looking for one thing. Keywords.

So, to get a hiring manager to give your resume a thorough read, you need to tailor your resume. Here are four tips that show you how to make a resume while tailoring it to the keywords that your hiring manager wants to find.

Related Article: An HR Manager Reveals: Why I Threw Out Your Résumé

1. Here’s Where to Find the Keywords Hiring Managers Want Most

So, where are these oh-so-important keywords? They’re in the job offer. In fact, a job offer is nothing less than a hiring manager’s wish list of things they want most in a candidate. Start by highlighting all of the skills and experience that you can find in the job offer. OK, but how do you know which of these keywords are the most attractive to hiring managers?

Take a moment to find job offers similar to yours. Are any of the keywords repeated across offers? It’s likely that hiring managers will find these keywords more attractive. Also, it helps to categorize the different skills.

There are three types of skills:

  1. Job-related Skills: These skills are necessary for you to perform the job in the first place. Example: The ability to operate a particular kind of machinery.
  2. Transferable Skills: These skills are things that you can use in multiple work-related scenarios. Example: The ability to use Microsoft Office.
  3. Adaptive Skills: These skills are abstract in nature. They are social or survival skills that form the basis for smooth human interaction. Example: Leadership

Start by finding the job-related skills that you feel are necessary for you to do that particular job. If multiple offers repeat the job-related skills from your offer, then they are essential, and the hiring manager will look for them. Make sure that these skills show up in the top third of your resume so that they are the first thing hiring managers see when they scan your resume. Put the skills you feel strongest about in your summary.

The transferable skills come next. They should show up in your skills section, and you can put any that you feel strongly about in your experience section as well. Note that these skills are usually more commonplace. Anyone who has worked in an office before can probably use Microsoft Office. The best thing to do with these keyword skills is to put them in your resume verbatim so that it is easy for the ATS to read them and for the hiring manager to tick them off when they are reading your resume.

Related Article: A Career Coach Reveals: What's Wrong With Your Résumé?

Finally, find the adaptive skills. They will usually turn up as adjectives. For example:

“Looking for an ambitious, hardworking individual capable of being punctual and time effective.”

  • Ambitious
  • Hardworking
  • Punctual
  • Time Effective

Pepper these throughout your resume where you can. Try not to use too many other words like this as they are considered buzzwords and will clutter up your resume.

2. How to Make a Resume Spotlight Your Best Skills

Okay, you know what skills you need and where to put them. But now you need to consider how to make a resume that will spotlight your best skills. The next thing you’ll want to do is leave a trail of breadcrumbs so that hiring managers can easily find the keywords. What should you use for breadcrumbs? Numbers and details.

When you back up skills and experience with numbers and details, you draw the eye of the recruiter and give them a tangible sense of what results they will see when you use these skills in your new job.

Instead of writing: “Sales Skills.” Write: “Boosted sales by seven percent after spearheading the launch of a new communications campaign.”

3. Don’t Trip Over the Finish Line - Tailor Your Cover Letter Too

No, despite what you may have heard, the cover letter is not dead. You still need to send it, and you need to tailor it as well. As you pepper your cover letter with keywords, just be sure that you aren’t repeating everything you’ve already written on your resume. Your cover letter should compliment your resume, providing extra information that hiring managers need to get the fullest possible image of you.

4. Make Sure Your Resume Can Beat the Bots

If you know that the hiring manager is going to put your resume through an Applicant Tracking System, you might want to check to see how prominent your keywords are before sending it. Even if R2D2 isn’t going to process your resume, it’s still a good idea to check how well you managed to incorporate your keywords.

You can do this by dropping your resume into a free cloud generator. The tool will show you which words you’ve used most often. If the words that appear are not skills or keywords, consider a rewrite.

Related Article:Quick Tips to Improve Your Résumé in Just 5 Minutes

Key Takeaway

With the sheer volume of resumes that hiring managers receive these days, it is job search suicide to send an untailored resume that doesn’t make strategic use of keywords. Tailoring your resume is the only way to ensure that recruiters will notice your resume and fall in love with it at first sight. Take a look at the infographic below to see how Cathy Smith tailored her resume to her job offer.

Infographic: How to make a resume that is tailored to any job offer

Do you know of other quick tricks that make a resume result in more callbacks from employers? Leave a comment. 

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