Resume Makeover: 5 Tips for Getting Noticed


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As you search for a new job, one old saying continues to be true: The way you construct your resume makeover will have a major effect on whether it’s noticed and considered by key recruiters. 

Not only do most recruiters today use automated tracking systems (ATSs) to digitally scan resumes before they’re read by humans, but they’re spending less time reading those that make it to their desks. These days, 40% of hiring managers take less than a minute reviewing the average resume before deciding whether to further pursue a candidate, according to The Motley Fool.  

That means it’s well worth your time to apply strategy when giving your resume a makeover, ensuring you’re presenting your career history in a way that efficiently makes it past ATSs while also meeting the key criteria of hiring managers. To that end, here are suggestions for optimizing your resume to increase your chances of being noticed (and hopefully invited for interviews) as you compete with multiple other job seekers. 

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1. Emphasize experience relevant to the job. 

No longer is it OK to compile a one-size-fits-all resume and leave it to potential employers to figure out how you might fit into their organizations. You must make it clear to both bots and humans how your skills and experience are relevant to the specific jobs they’re trying to fill. That means you’ll want to take time to make different versions of your resume based on the jobs to which you’re applying for. Yes, that can be time-consuming. It’s a necessary investment if you want to make it through today’s screening processes.

How should you start? Take a close look at each job posting. Pay attention to the language recruiters used to describe the requirements for each job. Compare those requirements to the jobs and accomplishments you’ve already listed on your current resume. Rewrite descriptions of your own career experiences to closely align with the recruiters’ requirements. Use the same wording when it applies and makes logical sense. Otherwise, use similar wording aimed at helping recruiters see how your background could be a close match with the job role at hand. 

Don’t hesitate to include your most job-specific experiences gained through internships, part-time jobs or volunteer gigs. They may be just what you need to get you through the next step in the recruitment process.

2. Eliminate information not relevant to the job.

 You’ll notice that many of the job experiences have no clear relevance to the job for which you’re applying. Go ahead and leave those out of your job-targeted resume. Focus instead on those specifically sought by the target employer. 

During the initial application stage, an overly verbose resume could be a turnoff. Time-starved recruiters just want to know if you have the ingredients most crucial to the position. The 

Motley Fool reports that 17% of hiring managers will completely disregard any resume longer than two pages. 

You can always discuss those secondary skills and experiences that may help you perform the job even better. But your resume is not the place for overly wordy or detailed explanations that may distract, or worse, annoy recruiters. Think in terms of bullet points and concise wording. These summarize the most important skills and experiences you’re bringing to the table for the specific job in question. 

3. Highlight achievements and results in your resume makeover, not job responsibilities.

Present your experiences in ways that explain what you’ve been able to accomplish in your current and past positions. Not simply what your jobs have involved on a day-to-day basis. Use action-focused verbs, numbers and statistics to specifically define those accomplishments. For example, say you’re director of an accounting department trying to summarize what you’ve been doing over the past eight years. 

Instead of simply writing …

  • Oversaw accounting staff in handling accounting functions of mid-sized hair salon chain.

You’ll want to provide a deeper look into what you achieved over that time, listing something like the following: 

  • Grew and integrated accounting staff from two to four people as chain grew revenues from $2 million to $3.5 million.
  • Successfully chose, incorporated and trained staff in X new accounting software.
  • Guided management in company financial strategy through COVID pandemic 
  • Over five years, effectively reduced corporate tax load by 6%.

One other suggestion: Avoid use of subjective cliché words like “highly qualified,” “people person” or “results-focused.” They don’t tell a recruiter anything important; they just take up space. Instead, aim to show recruiters what you’ve done through concise, factual language. 

Finally, there’s no need to stretch the truth if you haven’t improved your employer by great leaps and bounds during your tenure. You also may be overlooking strides you’ve made or project with which you’ve assisted that may be of key interest to future employers. 

4. Insert keywords

Once you have your resume makeover in place, it’s time to go through it. Look for opportunities to insert additional keywords that could catch the “attention” of the bots. These bots continually scan online applications in search of appropriate candidates. Start by looking through the job listing again to find words and phrases that could be important. Find ways that make sense to incorporate them into your resume makeover. Once you’ve done that, think about other key words that seem to be important in your industry and might be of interest to the recruiter.

For example, you may be certified or trained in a relevant professional program. You may have gained an especially sought-after skill set or you might have accomplished something particularly impressive to those in your field. Consider which search terms you might establish if you were the recruiter. Tip: If your job could be known by several different titles within your industry (i.e. accounting director, accounting manager or VP-accounting), hyphenate it. Bots can still find you if they’re programmed to seek only a certain title. 

5. Add a cover letter  

Since so much vetting of candidates is conducted digitally, you might think cover letters are less important than they were in the past. However, cover letters are still important, and a well-crafted one could be the boost you need to get an edge over other applicants. Don’t miss out on your chance to highlight key achievements that aren’t included on your resume. Reinforce your reasons for wanting the job and/or to call attention to other info that could help you secure that interview. 

As with your resume, your cover letter should be customized to each job for which you’re applying. Include a salutation; an introductory paragraph. Remember to include a summary of your qualifications (described in one to three paragraphs or listed as bullet points). Include a closing statement; your signature; and your contact info. Whenever possible, the salutation should include the name of the hiring manager. This shows you took the extra initiative to learn their name could give you an advantage over other applicants. 

Keep your letter to one page, and aim to write in the company’s voice. Generally speaking, you should try to come across as genuine, truthful, conversational and approachable. And make sure to spellcheck the final draft. 

Resume makeover conclusion

Of course, customizing each resume makeover and cover letter to make it through today’s search engines and lightning-fast recruiter critiques can be time-consuming.  Although investing that time is necessary to optimize your chances of securing interviews. 

Once you start thinking in terms of how your application materials will be viewed by bots and the humans, it’ll get easier to craft so that you grab the attention of both hiring managers and the ATS. 

In essence, because digital screening has become sophisticated and recruiters are often overwhelmed with multiple applications, you’ll need to write your resume strategically in order to make it through the screening process. Consider these suggestions for optimizing your resume to get it noticed by those hiring for your target jobs. 

Did you find LeadUp resume makeover tips helpful? Checkout our Resume Toolkit that’ll guide you to landing your dream job!