Resume Roadmap: Lesson 1

Introduction to Resume Writing

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Resume Roadmap Overview & What You’ll Accomplish

Are you ready to unlock the secrets of a winning resume that will make employers sit up and take notice? 

This resume writing course will equip you with the tools and techniques to craft a resume that exudes confidence, captures attention, and sets you apart from the competition. 

No more blending into the crowd or settling for mediocre job opportunities! It’s time to unleash your true potential and land that dream job you’ve longed for.

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  1. Craft a killer resume that makes employers go, “Wow!”
  2. Speak ATS language and conquer the resume scanners
  3. Choose the perfect resume format for you
  4. Organize your experience to tell your story
  5. Turn your skills into qualities employers can’t resist
  6. Match your resume to any job
  7. Proofread and spot those pesky errors
  8. Write a cover letter that’s your ticket to the interview
  9. Nail the reference game

In short, you will design a resume that looks as good as you do on paper.

What You Need

  • 1 of the following:
  • Access to the Internet
  • Pen and paper (optional)

Updating Your Resume or Starting Fresh

If you haven’t already created a resume, this course will equip you with the knowledge and skills to create a compelling one from scratch. If you do have one, we will show you how to refine it to make it even better.

Whether you decide to revamp your existing resume, utilize a handy resume outline worksheet, or start with a blank page, we will provide you with all the necessary tools, tips, and guidance you need.

So open up your resume or new document and say goodbye to outdated resumes and hello to a cutting-edge, jaw-dropping masterpiece that screams, “Hire me!

Navigating the Course

The course is designed to walk you through creating or updating every element of your resume.

However, you can use the menu or the list below to jump to whatever lesson you need:

Resume Success Tips

Make a Master Resume

Consider making a “master resume” as you complete this course. It would include all of your details and accomplishments in one document that comprehensively records your professional background. When you find a job you want to apply to, you can copy the relevant information from your master resume to create a tailored version for that specific application.

Creating a master resume has several advantages:

  • Speed Up Your Applications: Instead of starting from scratch with each job application, you can simply extract and modify the details from your master resume.
  • Be Consistent: A master resume ensures consistency in the information you present to potential employers.
  • Comprehensive Self-Reflection: Building a master resume encourages you to recognize patterns in your achievements, skills, and experiences, fostering a better understanding of your strengths and areas for improvement.
  • Adaptability to Different Roles: With a master resume, you can easily adapt and highlight the specific qualifications and experiences that make you a strong candidate for each particular role.

Treat Your Resume as a Living Document

Most people only look at their resumes when they need them. Sometimes, they need them rather urgently, such as when facing an unexpected job loss or when a new opportunity appears.

If you treat your master resume as a living document, updating it as you take on new work responsibilities or learn new skills, you’ll never have to panic. Being proactive and keeping your resume up to date means it’ll be ready.

Plus, it’s much easier to detail your actions when you are still doing them versus trying to remember everything months later. Access to records and other information makes qualifying your work a lot easier. Whether it’s meeting project deadlines, reducing error rates, or improving customer satisfaction scores, having immediate access to the relevant data enables you to provide concrete evidence of your contributions.

Don’t Rush Your Future

A resume is not just a piece of paper. It can change your entire life!

Throughout the average person’s life, they will spend at least 13 years at work. That’s second only to the 26 years spent sleeping. Do you really want to spend 16% of your life doing something you don’t enjoy? Probably not.

You need to take time when writing your resume if you want it to open the doors to the life-changing opportunities you deserve.

Imagine having multiple job offers to choose from versus anxiously waiting for a single interview callback. A good resume gives you that control rather than leaving it to chance. 

However, rushing through it could mean missing out on career-defining opportunities. You risk underselling your potential, which could leave you stuck in an unfulfilling job. Why would you settle?

Isn’t having a job you enjoy that pays you well and fits your lifestyle worth the effort?

The good news is if you heed my previous advice, you only have to do the heavy lifting of creating a master resume once. Then, set aside 15 minutes each month to give it a quick update.

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Investing time in your resume isn’t just about finding a job; it’s about creating your life.

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Understanding Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and Keywords

Long gone are the days when you pound the pavement with your resume in hand. We are in the digital recruitment age, and modern hiring processes rely heavily on technology to find talent.

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) have revolutionized resumes, acting like a digital gatekeeper, determining which resumes land in front of an actual person and which get lost in the shuffle. Understanding the inner workings of resume scanning software and aligning your resume with its algorithms is the only way to get your resume in front of potential employers in almost every case.

So that’s why we’re starting here.

From strategically placing relevant keywords to formatting your resume’s readability, every move counts when making an ATS-approved resume.

Use these strategies to optimize your resume to successfully pass the initial screening process and reach human eyes.

What Are Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)?

Applicant Tracking Systems are software employers use to automate and streamline the initial screening of resumes and applications. These systems are designed to handle the large volume of applications received for job openings. 

ATS scans resumes for specific keywords, qualifications, and other criteria set by employers to identify the most suitable candidates.

How Does ATS Impact Your Resume?

Think of ATS as your resume’s scorecard. It diligently scans and evaluates your resume, comparing it to the job description to determine if you’re a perfect fit or not. Resumes that don’t meet the criteria or lack relevant keywords won’t score high enough to make it to the next round.  

By optimizing your resume for ATS, you’ll stack the odds in your favor and improve your chances of winning that coveted interview.

Incorporating Relevant Keywords

Keywords, as I’m sure you know, are specific words or phrases relevant to a topic—in this case, the job you are applying for. These are typically found in job descriptions, requirements, and industry-specific jargon. By incorporating these keywords strategically into your resume, you increase the likelihood of matching the criteria set by ATS. 

As you tailor your resume for ATS, look for relevant keywords related to job titles, technical skills, industry-specific terms, and desired qualifications. Every matching keyword you have in your resume is another point on your ATS scorecard.

However, using keywords naturally is important; don’t force them where they don’t fit. It might trick the ATS, but it won’t fool hiring managers. Resorting to keyword stuffing can negatively impact readability and authenticity and will only confuse hiring managers, leaving them with questions and doubts that you don’t want. 

A good resume tells a story to employers about why they should hire you. The keywords add that extra “oomph” but must be authentic.  

Examples of Adding Keywords in ATS Resumes

Here are some examples of how to incorporate keywords in different sections of your resume strategically:

Professional Summary:

  • Results-driven marketing professional with expertise in digital advertising, SEO, and social media management
  • Dedicated software engineer skilled in Java, Python, and agile development methodologies

Skills Section:

  • Technical Skills: Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator), and HTML/CSS
  • Sales Skills: Experienced in lead generation, prospecting, relationship building, and negotiation

Work Experience:

  • Implemented SEO strategies, resulting in a 30% increase in website traffic and a higher search engine ranking
  • Managed a team of 10 customer service representatives, ensuring high customer satisfaction and resolving complex issues

Achievements/Bullet Points:

  • Generated $500,000 in sales revenue within the first quarter through effective client acquisition and relationship management
  • Developed and launched a mobile app that received 10,000+ downloads and achieved a 4.5-star rating in app stores

Education:

  • Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, specializing in thermodynamics and fluid dynamics
  • Certified Project Management Professional (PMP) with expertise in agile project management methodologies

Tailoring Your Resume For Each Application

To optimize your resume, it’s absolutely essential to give it a touch of personalization for each job application. But don’t worry; you won’t be trapped in an endless cycle of resume rewrites. 

Think of it more like a wardrobe upgrade. You don’t need to splurge on an entirely new outfit for every occasion. Instead, you mix and match what you already have, adding uniqueness to suit the occasion. Similarly, with your resume, you’ll be strategically tweaking and customizing it to match the specific job requirements.

Start by carefully reading and analyzing the job description, noting the specific keywords and requirements mentioned. If they use the term “account manager,” you also need to use the term “account manager” – not customer manager or account executive.

Customize your resume by incorporating these keywords in relevant sections (such as the examples above). Try to use their exact words, too—but again, don’t force it.

To make it work, for instance, if the job asks for a Project Manager, but your job title is Operations Manager, include the phrase “experienced project manager” on your resume somewhere it best fits.

And if the job ad states they want someone with 5 years experience, and you have been in the field for 7 years, explicitly say you have “more than 5 years experience” on your resume. As ridiculous as this sounds, saying you have 7 years of experience might not get you that point because it doesn’t match their specific keyword. 

Be Warned!

I will mention tailoring your resume many times throughout this course, plus there’s also a whole lesson on it. Why? Because ignoring this crucial step will make or break your chances of landing interviews.

When you tailor your resume, you send a clear message to employers that you’ve done your homework, understood their requirements, and possess the unique qualities they’re seeking—specifically. You make them feel special! 

But if you neglect to tailor your resume, you can kiss those interview invitations goodbye. 

Job markets are fiercely competitive, and employers are looking for any reason to eliminate candidates from consideration. Trust me, they won’t waste a second on generic resumes that fail to speak directly to their needs.

Not that it matters, because if it’s not relevant, it won’t pass the ATS screening and even be seen by a human, rendering your efforts futile.

Balancing ATS Optimization and Human Readability

While optimizing your resume for ATS is crucial, don’t forget the human touch. It needs to strike a balance between keyword optimization and clear readability that both machines and humans appreciate.

Use bullet points, headings, and formatting techniques to enhance readability and make it easy for both ATS and hiring managers to scan your resume quickly.

The rest of the course will show you how.

Mastering the art of resume optimization is the key to unlocking your career potential in the digital age. By understanding the intricacies of ATS and incorporating relevant keywords, you position yourself for success.

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To Do:

Okay, so you need keywords in your resume to get the interview. But how do you find them?

This exercise will help you find those elusive keywords that can make a significant difference in your resume. By carefully analyzing multiple job descriptions, including aspirational roles, you will gain insights into the specific keywords and phrases that employers value. 

  1. Find 3-5 job descriptions for roles that interest you, including at least one that’s for a more prestigious job–one you might not qualify for now but would like to.
  2. Identify 10 keywords from each job description.
  3. List these keywords, noting the ones that frequently come up.
  4. If you have a resume, assess how well it aligns with your identified keywords. Quickly update your resume to include these keywords where there are easy fits. If you don’t have a resume, keep these keywords handy while working through the course.

Helpful Link

ChatGPT: The Game Changer Your Job Search and Career Needs
Learn how to use AI to generate bullet points for your resume, write achievement statements, and find those elusive keywords you must include.