You’ve come of age in the era of social media. Which probably means you assume everything can be done online: networking, socializing, job applications. And that’s more or less true. But there’s one vestige of the old world that will still be crucial to you in finding yourself a satisfying job: a resume. Don’t be fooled into thinking you don’t need one. Everybody does. Do concern yourself with making sure your resume gets in the right hands.
It doesn’t have to be perfect; you’ll likely tinker with it for the entirety of your career. But you need to start somewhere. Here are five tips for how to get your resume noticed and read, so you can get that job and get your start.
1. Think like a computer
Your cover letter and your interview need to be geared towards the human recruiters who’ll be reading it. Your resume, on the other hand, will probably be read first by a search engine. Keep that simple fact in mind and gear your document to get through the machines.
Part of this strategy means using the right words to get through the computer programs that will sort your resume. Part of it is simply making sure you’re showing a hiring manager that you can do the job. Start by reverse-engineering the job description and peppering your resume with the keywords necessary to showcase your skills. You can also create a “core competencies” section at the top and listing your most valuable skills there. And if you have to cheat, and include keywords for skills you don’t quite have, you can try putting them in in white font, so computer searches will pick up on it, but human recruiters won’t see that text.
3. Make it easy
Make sure to get all the basics covered: school, major, GPA, objective. When writing your objective, err on the side of specifics. Don’t just say you want a great job doing great things; make sure to let the recruiter know you mean business. Be clear about the location and the industry you’re looking for. Take the guess work out of it.
4. Go electronic with your cover letter
More often than not, you’re going to need to email a cover letter rather than sending the traditional hard copy. Again, there’s no guarantee a human is going to see it. But you shouldn’t cut any corners all the same. Start with as personal an opening as possible—whether a friend referred you, or you have a mutual acquaintance, or you have a particular affinity for this particular position. Then use the rest of the message to contextualize the bullet points on your resume. Again, be as specific as possible.
5. Think “means to an end”
Your resume doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to do everything. But it does need to be attention-grabbing. And it needs to present your brand clearly and effectively to the people who will hire you. Be honest and showcase your unique qualities and talents and you’ll do fine.