Resume writing is hard! JobJenny gives you tips to turn a lackluster resume into a document that will help you land your next job.
- You know what? Resume writing is hard. For a lot of people it's really hard. It's uncomfortable. It's an awkward style of writing, and for most of us, it's super confusing. How do you construct something that'll get you noticed for the exact types of jobs that you want the most? How many pages is it supposed to be? Should you include an objective or no objective? Do you need more than one resume? What are you supposed to do if you didn't finish college or maybe you took a few years off, or you've been working in a completely unrelated field than the one that you want to get into now? How far back do you go? And here's a really common resume question.
What actually happens when you hit Apply Now on an online application? Do you know where that resume goes or how it's even assessed? Do you realize that it's probably not even getting reviewed by a human until it passes through scanning software if it makes it through at all? And even if you do know about the resume scanning software, which, by the way, is also called an applicant tracking system, do you have a clear understanding of what you need to do to make sure your resume gets through that darned robot and on to inspire a human decision maker to want to meet and know you? If you don't, you're absolutely not alone.
Guys, this stuff is insanely hard for even the most put-together people. You know, I've had professional writers contact me, as in people who earn their livings based on their writing capabilities, because even they can't figure out how the heck to do a great resume. Simply put, resume writing is a dreaded assignment for pretty much all of us. But here's the good news. We're going to make the process of putting a resume down on paper a lot more understandable and completely survivable.
And if this goes as we've planned it to, you're going to walk out of this course with a resume that you're proud to start handing out in three days or less. Welcome to the Weekend Resume Makeover. I'm Jenny Foss of JobJenny.com. I've been helping people find and land amazing jobs for more than 10 years. And I've worked on both sides of the hiring fence, as a recruiter representing the companies doing the hiring, and as a job search strategist, a resume writer, and career blogger.
And through that time, my team has worked with hundreds and hundreds of job seekers, from maintenance workers to CEOs, from copy editors to the publisher of a major women's magazine, from bookkeepers to CFOs, and just about everybody in between. And through this experience, I've realized something loud and clear. In order to have a great resume, you don't just need strong writing skills, good grammar, and a floofed-up resume template, you need to also understand how this game works.
Because if you don't understand the game of job search, it's going to be incredibly hard to build a killer resume. It's going to be incredibly hard to win at this. So that's what we're going to talk about first, before we launch into the course modules which will walk you step-by-step through the process of developing your new, ridiculously awesome resume. In Weekend Resume Makeover, we'll for sure give you all the tools, the inspiration, and the kick in the pants that you need to bang out an amazing resume in three days or less.
But it makes absolutely no sense to go racing out of the gates here and start writing this thing before you understand how your resume is likely going to travel through that recruiting process. You need that information so you can make sure that the time you invest in this new resume is time incredibly well-spent, and that the finished product speaks directly to your target audience and lines you up for that job you want to land. Alright, let's do this. Lesson one, the journey your resume takes and why you need to care.
Almost every day I talk with a job search client or someone who has hired our team to write a resume for them. Within about five minutes of chitchat, I typically ask them if they understand the journey their resume goes on and why that matters. After they give me that look of, oh dear, is this going to take long, they almost always answer in one of two ways. Number one, I don't have the slightest idea what happens. Or number two, I know it's got something to do with key words, right? The number two person, by the way, is right, but there's a lot more to it.
I can't recall one person ever responding to that question with a detailed description of how a resume travels from their computer through the scanning software and into the hands of a hiring manager, not once. But this is super important stuff to know so that when you're building, or redoing, your resume here you can do so with a solid understanding of how your resume is going to be assessed. Let's say you've just found an incredibly interesting job posted at a company that you're dying to work for.
What do you do? I'll tell you what you do. You drop everything. That's what you do. You drop everything and you get right down to business with an online application. You fill in all the blanks. You upload your resume. And then, voila, you hit Send. So what happens now? Where does that resume go? Does it go to somebody's desk? Is it the HR manager, a recruiter? Is it your future boss? In most cases, especially in mid to large-size companies, it doesn't go to any of these people.
In most instances, your resume is first going to drop into that company's resume scanning software. If the software decides that you're a match for that role, you'll come out the other side of the process along with all the other quote, unquote "best-match candidates." These are the only resumes that will be reviewed by real people if you apply online as opposed to emailing your stuff directly to a contact within that company. This software, which again is called the ATS, sucks in all of the applicant resumes, parses the information into data fields, and then looks for what is there versus what is missing using whatever instructions the person who programmed the thing has said go and look for this.
The resumes with the highest match scores will be at the top of the pile. The ones missing a lot of details that that software is going and looking for, gong. They're not even going to make it to the human reviewers. Once the scan is complete, only the top 10 or 20 or 50 resumes will move forward in the journey. So given this, you can quickly understand how important it is for your resume to play nice with that resume scanning software.
And I'll go into detail on how you can do that when we get to module three. For now, let's say your resume has made it through the software. Well done. It's now moving on to the humans. Who exactly is that first person going to be? In larger companies, that person is often someone on the HR team, and it could be the very same person who programmed the ATS on what it should go and look for when it scanned your resume. In the best case, that HR person has an intimate understanding of the role you just applied for and knows exactly what it takes to be great at that particular job.
However, HR people are often managing a bunch of different searches at the same time. And sometimes they don't really develop a deep specialization in any one type of job or another, so it could be that they're really just comparing your resume against the job description and deciding if you're a super obvious fit for that position. A lot of job seekers assume that the humans are just going to magically deduce how you make sense or how something that you've done in one role is directly transferrable to something you want to do in this next job.
But it doesn't really work that way. It doesn't work that way for a couple of really important reasons. Number one, that first reviewer might not be qualified to connect the dots for you, especially if the job involves complex skills or you work in some highly technical industry with a whole bunch of confusing jargon. And number two, that initial reviewer rarely has incentive to connect the dots for you, because someone in that pile of resumes that just came flying out of the ATS is going to be a super obvious match.
Those are the people that they're going to contact first. So in addition to the ATS itself, you also need to factor in that first human gatekeeper when you construct this new resume. And again, we'll talk more about this in detail in module three. Your resume's final stop on this journey, and this only happens if you make it through both the ATS and the first human review, is the hiring manager. This is where you need to make sure your resume is just riveting to the person who's got the ultimate authority over whether you're going to be a yay or a nay for an initial interview.
And that, by the way, that's the exact purpose of your resume. Your resume is the marketing tool that you're going to use to help you land interviews. It's the tool that you're going to use to become a yay. So my mission here is to make sure you're creating something that's going to land you in the holy cow, hell yes, when can we meet this person-yay pile. And the first place we're going to start is with the fundamentals of a ridiculously awesome resume.