When you send out your resume, you can expect some stiff competition. Here's a sobering statistic from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics: Of the 13.7 million unemployed persons, almost half have been jobless for 27 weeks or more.
This makes having a perfect resume your "ace in the hole." It's what will get the recruiter's attention and keep you from landing in the "reject" bin. "For every open position I have, I get at least 300 applications. And I can whittle them down to about 20, just based on customization," says Human Resources Specialist Karen Holt.
Customization is key; let everyone else use a generic format. Take the example of an AOL Jobs commenter, F. Murphy: when applying for a job in advertising, he enlarged his resume, pasted copies onto foam core boards, cut them into pieces like a jigsaw, and mailed the pieces to the recruiters with a note that said, "The only puzzling thing about some resumes is how to put them together." He got a mountain of phone calls and job offers.
This creative approach worked well for the advertising field, but you probably shouldn't try it if you're applying for an accounting job. Regardless of what field you're looking in, there's a lesson here for all who are unemployed. In fact, there are three little-known secrets everyone should know when preparing a resume that will say, "Look at me!"
1. Use keywords
Pore over wording of the job opening and find the specific keywords that the recruiter uses. These keyword could be industry jargon, a specific software package that's used in your field, or simply words that are used to describe the type of work to be done (i.e. sales, administrative, customer service). Once you've figured out what the relevant keywords are, use those words frequently in your cover letter as well as the resume. As long as you don't overdo it, this will accomplish two things:
A. If the recruiter is using software to search through the resumes, your keywords will increase the likelihood that your resume gets seen at all.
B. The keywords will be noticed by hiring managers reading it, making your resume jump out at them as relevant, worthy of a second look.
If you are using "snail mail" to send your resume, make sure you use sturdy stock. A colored or textured paper is sure to get noticed among the mountain of submissions printed on basic white copy paper. You might not want to follow the suggestion of another AOL Jobs commenter, Leon, who suggested using "orange paper." Unless perhaps if the job is in a creative or artistic field.
2. Use advertising and marketing strategies
One thing this recent spell of unemployment has taught some people is how to get creative when looking for a job. One man held up a placard with his name, qualifications and phone number, and walked back and forth in front of the company he wanted to work for. He not only got an interview at that company, he also received inquiries from passing motorists.
Approach the job like a car salesman trying to put you in a new car or a politician who has to undergo exhaustive campaigning to get elected. Do an online search on the company, then jot down a list of ideas for how to get an interview.
3. Write great copy
Apart from checking your spelling and accuracy -- which everyone looking for a job knows to do -- spend time working with the text and wording. Take this example of another candidate who put his resume into a coffee cup, with a cover letter saying, "Let's meet for coffee," and mailed all three directly to the person hiring him. Crazy as it might seem, he got the call.
Great copy will spark curiosity and draw attention. It will give the employer the chance to see firsthand what you can do for them. Read what you write out loud; it will give you a different perspective and force you to consider the impact your words have. If you are changing careers, draw the recruiter's attention to your transitional skills that show how your past experiences will help you excel in your new role. For example, if you are looking for a landscaping design job after being a teacher, play up your abilities to persuade people, handle a heavy workload, and deal with different personalities.
To really get maximum impact, consider using different fonts to highlight your keywords. The idea is to draw attention to them without making your resume look unsightly. Remember, you want to stand out from the crowd. Customize your resume, view your job search as a marketing campaign, and you could be on your way to getting the job you want.
Next: Check Resume Examples to Get Your Resume Noticed
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