Recruiters were asked what makes a resume stand out. They jokingly responded:
- You’re assuming I actually get a chance to read resumes.
- Someone who went to my alma mater. Not that I’m biased.
Jokes aside, what do hiring managers actually want to see? And on the other hand, what makes them throw a resume away? What do they secretly think when they see your resume?
A resume is still the backbone of how you represent yourself to potential employers. Substance and language both count when someone is making a quick first assessment. Recruiters said they look for:
- A well-rounded candidate
- Relevant, appropriate experience
- Accomplishments—preferably measurable
- Immediate availability
- Something that makes you stand out
The ease of applying online contributes to a flood of irrelevant responses recruiters and hiring managers say they get after posting a job. Most said they receive hundreds of responses per posting, yet the majority of resumes do not match the job description.
Unless you want them to laugh at you or throw your application away, don’t send an irrelevant resume. Here’s an example of how to match your experience and accomplishments to the experience required in the job description.
If the description says:
The Charge Nurse supervises nursing service activities in assigned nursing unit for the duration of the assigned shift or in the absence of nursing management. The task and responsibilities of this position include:
- Supports nursing staff in communication with physicians to include accepting doctors’ orders and communicating patient condition.
- Manages the nursing care of assigned patients in accordance with established policies, procedures, and protocols of the healthcare organization.
- Monitors, records, and communicates patient condition as appropriate utilizing computerized documentation systems.
Do not fail to specifically note your specific experience related to the job; cite accomplishments from your clinical and customer service experience.
Those are the right things to say; remember to also take time to say them right. To keep your resume—and your candidacy—viable, use specific, memorable language.
Executive Resume Writer Laura Smith-Proulx has a helpful suggestion. If you think what you’ve drafted might be cliché, Google it! The phrase “go-getter” came up on Google more than 1.6 million—so you probably want to avoid it, along with “self-motivated,” and “team-player.”
To make your resume stand out, show—don’t just tell about—your accomplishments. Describe your skills by their results using power verbs, said Smith-Proulx. In the example below, see how the bullet points refer back to the job requirements as advertised while using active verbs and citing quantifiable metrics.
- Responded to emergencies; assessed the condition of the resident; decided on the type of medical attention required; called appropriate ambulance service when needed; notified family when resident is transferred or admitted to the hospital; notified the physician when a change in condition occurs.
- Managed the nursing care of assigned patients in accordance with established policies, procedures, and protocols of the healthcare organization.
- Completed documentation and its impact on reimbursement and federal regulations in hospital’s electronic medical record system.
The sheer number of responses to job postings these days is a real challenge. Don’t make the mistake most job seekers do and send a generic response! Seize this opportunity to be a savvy resume writer.
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