Sooner than later, you’ll come to the realization that meticulously writing out a resume and then rewriting it if you never hear from companies is tedious, and frustrating. Worst of all, after all that work, chances are your resume may not even have been viewed at all. You’re not alone. About 90% of big corporations use applicant tracking systems, otherwise known as ATS . These tracking systems filter out resumes and scan them for keywords that determine if you’re a good fit for the role.
Recruiters and in-house talent acquisition teams report that on an average in 2018, they received over 300 applications PER DAY for six-figure roles.
So how can you stand out from the crowd?
Here are 9 resume writing tips to help you get the hiring manager’s attention and land the interview.
Research the Company and Their Leadership Team
You’ve probably heard this before and with good reason. Understanding the company’s culture and pain points is an important part of drafting the ideal CV. Corporate cultures vary from company to company. What may work for one, doesn’t necessarily click with the other.
Look up the company’s website and also check them out on various social media sites to get a feel for their company branding. Then go through their executive leadership teams LinkedIn profiles and try to determine what kind of culture they have. Do they tout volunteer work? What do they mention for special interests?
Focus on finding some commonality with your own background, and then be sure to mention that in your cover letter. What type of culture does the company seem to have? See if you have any 1st degree connections on LinkedIn that work or have worked there and ask questions. Is the company culture relaxed and fun, or is it more serious and formal? Try to emulate the same tone while writing your resume and cover letter.
Also be aware that hopefully you are going to get their attention, and they will be reviewing your LinkedIn profile. Spend some polishing your profile and refining your value proposition, so that your profile highlights your strongest attributes and career accomplishments.
Relate to the Job Description using Keywords
Remember, the tracking systems identify keywords. Including the keywords from the job description not only gets you past the initial screening process, it also helps your hiring manager see how well you understand the role. If the job description states they’re looking for Wealth Advisors, make sure you include relevant experience along with stating the exact keyword ‘Wealth Advisor’, even if your title is similar, but not the exact phrase.
Place Keywords at the Top of your Resume
Placement of the keywords also matters. Try adding a LinkedIn style headline under your name, with a short description of yourself and your best qualities as an employee. This ensures that the first thing the hiring manager sees are the keywords pertaining to the job.
There are often times many different terms for the same role depending on the company. Some companies may call their sales professionals sales reps, and others may refer to them as sales consultants. Some companies may call their sales managers regional sales managers, and others may refer to them as divisional sales managers. Matching your title under your name to the name of the role that you are applying for, presuming that it is indeed the same function, dramatically increases your percentage match as reported by the automated systems utilized these days to sift through the resumes that we receive.
Keep in mind that whatever you do add on your resume needs to prove a point. You have a very limited time when someone is looking at your resume to grab their attention. If you spend the first ¾ of it on information that is not relevant to the job you are applying for, chances are the reviewer will not stick it out to get to the final ¼ of your job history.
Skip the Irrelevant Experience
Irrelevant and outdated experience is a big turnoff for hiring managers—and it’s one of the most common mistakes people make on their resumes
At some point, a human being that’s buried in resumes is going to be looking at your credentials, and you want to do everything in your power to maximize the impact of what he or she is reviewing.
Most importantly, focus on adding job accomplishments, as opposed to job descriptions. This is the best and easiest way to incorporate the key words that are used in the mandatory requirements into your resume.
List Relevant Technical Skills
Today’s corporate climate requires the use of multiple technical and technological skills. If there’s software that you have a good grip over and is relevant to the job you’re applying for, always mention it—along with your proficiency with that software. This shows the hiring manager that your skill set is diverse and that you stay updated with the latest technological trends in your field.
If you have earned any certificates or invested in additional training to help you in your career, list it!
Customize your Objective for Every Position you Apply For!
Take the time to tweak your stated Objective for every role you apply for.
It is disconcerting to receive a resume that says the applicant’s primary objective is to join a large, stable company when we are recruiting for a start-up.
Changing your Objective should not take more than a few minutes, but it can make the world of difference when applying for a job.
Put your City and State on the Top of your Resume
It is virtually impossible to make a match when someone does not put their current location on their resume. If you are open to relocating for the right opportunity, you can say that either on the top or bottom of your resume, but for heaven’s sake, list your current city and state.
Companies always want to look at local talent first before considering spending the money on a relocation, and by not adding that information, the vast majority of ATS will not register your credentials at all.
On the very bottom, say that Excellent References are Available Upon Request. Do not list your references contact information on your resume automatically, because this opens up your references to being bombarded with calls both for roles for themselves and other reasons. Honor their time and when you are at the stage in the interview process where you are asked to provide your list of references, give them the courtesy of giving them a heads up, letting them know to expect a call.
Double and Trip Check your Resume for Errors!
You would be surprised at the number of executive level resumes we receive that have incorrect contact info, misspellings, and e-mail addresses that are less than professional.
If necessary, create a new e-mail address that is businesslike, and make sure that you check it daily. The same advice goes for your voicemail. Make sure that your voicemail message is professional. As much as we love kids, no one wants to listen to your toddler very sweetly, and sloooowly, provide detailed instructions on what to do at the sound of the ‘beep’. Have someone else proof-read your resume, and also read it out loud.
By being cognizant of what the reviewer is looking for and taking the time to refine your profile both on LinkedIn as well as your resume, you can make small changes that will have a big impact on your viability as a candidate.
Since 1999, International Search Consultants (ISC) has been a leader in executive recruiting. Over last 20 years, ISC’s team of 15 highly experienced executive recruiters have placed hundreds of candidates with their Clients within the following areas of focus: financial services, sales, HR, , energy and construction.
Ann Zaslow-Rethaber is President of ISC and can be reached via email at or direct dial at 888-866-7276.
Anna Souers is ISC’s Director of Financial Services and can be reached via email at or direct dial at 800-450-3808.