Landing Your Dream Job: Resumes That Captivate Attention

Welcome to my Landing Your Dream Job Series. Over the next few months, I’ll be with you every step of the way as you work towards landing your dream job. We will start with the application materials and go all the way through to negotiating a better job offer.

Generally, the first step to landing your dream job is to submit a resume. Depending on the job, hiring managers can receive hundreds of resumes, so you need to bring your A game if you want your resume to get noticed from the pile. Writing a resume that captivates attention is the very first step to landing your dream job.

A position has recently opened in our office, and my supervisor wanted to see if I might be interested in participating on the hiring committee. She had no clue that I LOVE the hiring process! There is nothing more exciting than identifying great talent who will provide new perspectives and new ideas to a team.

As I was looking at the applicants’ resumes, I kept telling my coworker that I should forget consulting for nonprofits as a potential career path. Instead, I could make good money providing consulting services for resume writing.

In all seriousness, I’ve seen hundreds of resumes and cover letters as I have been in charge of hiring and been a part of hiring committees for jobs at various levels. My career is specific to higher education, nonprofits, and fundraising. However, many of the mistakes I’ve seen are common across all types of fields.

Let’s start with five basic tips to help you grab their attention right from the beginning.

This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, read our Disclosures.

man holding pen to paper

Are You Captivating All the Wrong Attention?

It’s sad but it’s true that people make some of the dumbest mistakes that automatically disqualify them. I know it seems pretty obvious, but it still needs to be said. Proofread your resume! And then proofread it again. Then have your friend proofread it. Resumes with typos will captivate the attention of the hiring manager, but for all the wrong reasons. If you don’t care enough to catch the little mistakes when you’re trying to impress me in the interview phase, I’m going to assume you won’t care about the details when you’ve secured the job.

Similarly, you don’t want to commit any of the other standard resume faux pas. You need to follow all the rules when submitting your resume. Many companies prohibit the use of a photo in resumes. Leave it off. Make sure your contact information makes you sound like a professional. Sorry, but employers will cringe if they see your email address listed as flirtyblonde53.

Lastly, don’t commit the biggest resume sin of all: Lying. Don’t ever make things up to pad your resume. If your resume seems flat, then work with what you’ve got or work hard to get more experience. There are times when hiring managers are in a position where they’re willing to take a risk on someone who is new to the field or interested in a new specialization. But don’t ever lie about your resume! You could possibly get away with it, but I promise you it will most likely come back to haunt you later.

 

handing holding pen writing on papers with coffee cup visible in background

Is Your Resume Concise?

I’m sure you’re a fabulous person. Really. But I don’t need to know everything about you in your resume. I want to know how you fit my criteria, and I want to know it in less than a minute. Two minutes if I’m feeling really gracious. Don’t feel obligated to write a general paragraph and then follow up with a list of bullet points for specific information; bullet points are just fine.

Using bullet points? Great! How long are your bullet points, though? If you are going margin-to-margin, you are shooting yourself in the foot. Succinct wording will make a great first impression.

The secret to creating a short but impactful statement is in the verbs you choose. Not adjectives, not nouns, not adverbs – just plain old verbs. Why? Verbs can communicate direction, emotion, and precision in just one or two words. For example, which sounds more interesting to you? Someone who was responsible for raising $100,000, someone who met their goal of raising $100,000, or someone who exceeded their goal of $100,000?

There are a ton of great articles out there that highlight verbs which will make your resume more engaging.



notebook with metrics written in it

Are You Being Specific Enough?

Did you notice how I used specific dollar amounts in my example statements above? I didn’t just exceed my fundraising goal, I exceeded my goal of $100,000. Employers love for you to use metrics in your resume. You want to use specific numbers and percentages whenever you can. Clearly defined values not only give me a clearer picture of what you have accomplished but also tell me that you can keep records and can analyze the metrics involved in your job performance.

Speaking of accomplishments, one classic mistake people make on resumes is to highlight their responsibilities instead of their accomplishments. Unless you are coming from a radically different field, I already understand what your responsibilities are just from your job title. I’m not as concerned with what your current job is as I am with what you have accomplished in your current job. I want to know what you did that went above and beyond: the major projects you worked on and the awesome improvements you made. I want to see that you were an asset to your former employer which shows me you’ll be an asset to me.

Most importantly, please avoid putting clichés into your resume. I’m passionate, results-oriented, and have excellent oral and communication skills. I know I might use these clichés in my job posting, but you shouldn’t. Don’t tell me you’re passionate; show it when you interview. Don’t tell me you are results-oriented; show me the numbers. Prove to me you have excellent oral and communication skills by having a flawless resume. Clichés definitely will not captivate my attention or help you in landing your dream job.

 

business man and business woman conversing

Do You Include Too Much Information?

Once you’ve got your concise statements, look at how many bullet points you have. I don’t need to know every success story, but I do want to hear about the success stories that are pertinent to my open position. Learn to prune down and keep no more than the top five or six points that showcase your ability. I want to know that you can walk in on day one and succeed.

The best way to accomplish this is to tailor your resume to the specific job you are applying for. If you want an employer to feel like they only have eyes for you, then you need to make that employer feel like you only have eyes for them. A lot of times, a hiring representation gets the first look at your resume, and they might not really understand the job you are applying for. Feel free to mirror the job description as found in the job listing. Use similar words and highlight the details that most closely pertain to this specific listing. This might mean that you have a different resume for every job you apply for.

Here’s a quick tip to help you personalize each resume. Write out a long version of your resume with every potential bullet point an employer might be interested in. When you go to apply for a job, all you have to do is trim down to your top five instead of creating a whole new job description every time.



barista

Are You Telling Me Your Life Story?

If you haven’t figured it out yet, don’t tell me everything. Just like I don’t need to hear every aspect of every job, I don’t even need to hear about every job! Look for places where you can condense any information that does not add emphasis to the specific job you are applying for. For example, in the middle of my job history in Winston Salem is a three month stint in retail as a full time store manager. It’s a little bit odd but it makes sense when I go into the full details of my job history in interviews.

As much as I LOVE working at my current job, I most likely won’t be here forever. My next move will probably be focused on moving my fundraising career forward with the skills I’ve learned as an Annual Giving professional. When I do apply, I will probably take out my time working in retail. It’s not fundraising related, and it was only for a short amount of time.

But then I’ll look like I was unemployed, you might say. If someone does think the gap is odd, they will probably ask you about it. If you don’t feel comfortable having a gap, you can always add a section called “Additional Work Experience.” In that section you can list jobs that show you were consistently employed but that are of little interest to the job you are applying to. That way the valuable retail space on your resume is dedicated to those facts that identify you as the best candidate possible.

Bottom line, make it easy for your prospective employer to identify you as a top candidate within the first minute of seeing your resume. Next up in my Landing Your Dream Job series, we’ll talk resume design and formatting (my favorite part!). The resume is your first impression and I want you to get it right! Then when combined with your perfect cover letter, you can start preparing for the interview!

Have you ever hired someone for a position? If so, what do you look for in a resume?

How can your resume get noticed? Writing a resume that captivates attention is the very first step to landing your dream job. Check out our five tips to help you grab attention right from the beginning. dream job | career advice | millennials | resume |job search | resume that grabs attention | resume that stands out | resume that captivates attention | landing dream job | perfect job | job search | job hunt | writing resume | resume tips

How can your resume get noticed? Writing a resume that captivates attention is the very first step to landing your dream job. Check out our five tips to help you grab attention right from the beginning. dream job | career advice | millennials | resume |job search | resume that grabs attention | resume that stands out | resume that captivates attention | landing dream job | perfect job | job search | job hunt | writing resume | resume tips
How can your resume get noticed? Writing a resume that captivates attention is the very first step to landing your dream job. Check out our five tips to help you grab attention right from the beginning. dream job | career advice | millennials | resume |job search | resume that grabs attention | resume that stands out | resume that captivates attention | landing dream job | perfect job | job search | job hunt | writing resume | resume tips

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2 Comments

  • Reply My Sons Father March 19, 2018 at 5:26 pm

    Sending this one on to my wife who is contemplating a job switch. She’s been polishing her resume, but these tips should go a little my way in helping her make it great!

    • Reply Jaclyn March 21, 2018 at 9:40 am

      That’s great! I’ve got a second post coming on Thursday that will discuss format and design for resumes. Shoot me an email if you want an extra set of eyes to look it over! I love reviewing resumes. 🙂

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