Long gone are the days when candidates were required to mail their resumes (type, print, address the envelope, place the stamp, AND mail) to express their interest for a particular position. While the internet has made applying to jobs extremely quick and easy (in some cases, literally, with the click of a button), recruiters are now flooded with CVs. This has made it more difficult for qualified candidates to stand out, especially when it comes to entry level positions. To overcome this challenge and manage the flow of their hiring process, the majority of HR departments utilize Applicant Tracking Systems, programs that have the ability to filter the hundreds of resumes that companies receive for each position they advertise.
Knowing how to get your resume noticed is the first step to get your information in front of the recruiter or hiring manager and give you a chance to land an interview. This means you need to use the right keywords to help recruiters find your resume. When applying to a job, the first step should always be to look at the job description and ask yourself “what are the words a recruiter would use to search for the most qualified candidates for this position?” Then, make sure those key words are included in your resume.
Another helpful idea is to include a professional executive summary that focuses on what you can offer your potential employer. Avoid “objective” sections that list what you are looking for or what you wish to get out of the job. You are a recent college graduate applying to an entry level position: let me guess, your objective reads “to obtain an entry level position in the field of (your degree) to utilize my educational background.” Did I get it right? Close? You get the point.
It is also extremely important to set the right tone. Be honest and realistic, be confident, but not arrogant. Show your personality but keep it professional and avoid cliché words (we would hope you are motivated and dependable!). Instead, focus on quantifiable accomplishments and the skills you have developed through your jobs, internships, and college courses/projects, particularly any technical skills that may be required for the position you are applying to (hint for “my” finance students: proficiency in Microsoft Excel). Your goal is to set yourself apart from all the other hundreds of candidates who have applied to the very same entry level job. What makes you unique? Why/how are you better than the other candidates? Your resume should include the answers to those questions so that recruiters and hiring manager can find you, choose to meet with you, and eventually offer you the job.
Laura G. McDonough
Career Coach – Finance & Economics