Shoot Your Shot at a Dream Job With a Well-Written Resume

Reading Time: 7 Minutes

The potential for landing your dream job is closer than you think. Too many people miss out on the perfect job out of intimidation or feeling underqualified.

If you’re lucky enough to find a posting for your dream job, you should shoot your shot and apply— even if you don’t meet the qualifications. Few hiring managers know realistic parameters and are open to hiring for passion and potential. Of course, having a well-written resume is essential for landing the gig. 

Here are some practical tips for crafting a well-written resume that increases your chances of landing your dream job.

1. Use Keywords from the Posting

First, save the job posting as a PDF on your computer. You’ll want this for reference as you navigate the resume and interview process. Many companies will take the post down once they reach a certain number of applicants, leaving you without valuable information if you get an interview.

How to Prepare for ATS

Cater your resume to reflect the job posting, using specific words from the post throughout the resume. Many companies and recruiters use an automated applicant tracking system (ATS) to prescreen applications. This AI-driven tool “reads” resumes and determines their fit by evaluating their relevance to the original posting. Using the same keywords increases the likelihood of a hiring manager seeing your application.

Use keywords organically; don’t force them into your resume. Rather than focusing on the terms, use the post as a question-and-answer framework for crafting your resume. The job posting is asking, “do you have this skill or this experience?” and your resume is the answer.

Consider using a resume ATS checker before submitting your application. This tool will analyze your resume and the job description to determine whether it will pass an ATS or if you should optimize further.

2. Add Tangible Metrics

Start brainstorming your workplace accomplishments before you craft your resume. Consider your relevant roles and the specifics of what you accomplished there— the more quantifiable, the better.

Vague mentions of successful projects and tasks aren’t sufficient for standing out to hiring managers. It’s crucial to include tangible metrics with numeric values for clarification.

How to Quantify Work Experience

Consider a manager who helped improve productivity and employee morale. Including “increased department productivity and output” could mean anything to a hiring manager reviewing your resume. Conversely, “increased production output by 25% over a three-month period” adds context and value to the statement.

You should also quantify personal work output. Consider an editor who hires writers, creates content calendars, and reviews work for publication. On a quantified resume, that would look like “managed a team of 10-12 writers and reviewed 20-30 articles per week.”

Be realistic when quantifying your work. Impressive numbers may get you through the initial screening, but hiring managers will pick up on exaggerations during the interview process. 

3. Include Relevant Experience

Don’t add previous jobs or positions to pad your resume; only include work that’s relevant.

For example, if you’ve only had one or two jobs in the previous ten years, don’t dip back into your part-time work during college. It’s better to have a short resume with proof of dedication and experience as an employee than irrelevant information.

If you have a long career with many different jobs, stop at 15 years previous. Your resume should be no longer than two pages, even if you’re a high-level executive. You can elaborate on your backstory in your professional summary, cover letter, and interview.

4. Cover Employment Gaps

Employment gaps are a significant stressor for job applicants. However, employment gaps don’t result in immediate dismissal if you prioritize transparency and explain them. Employers are also more open to gaps over recent years due to the pandemic.

Covering Long-Term Gaps

If you’re re-entering the job market after an employment gap, identify what happened during that time. You can list your time off in the same format as a job.

For example, if you took time off to be the primary caregiver for a sick relative, you can list that “role” with the relevant dates. For example:

Primary caregiver for an ailing parent, June 2021 – July 2022
Stepped away from work to act as the primary caregiver for my ailing mother, who required full-time assistance.

You can also highlight any professional development or additional education you gained during that time in your additional skills or education section.

Covering Short-Term Gaps

Short gaps with a few months aren’t as obvious, though some will cover this gap on the resume by leaving out their employment months. For example:

Junior Copywriter, XYZ company, December 2021 – June 2022
Junior Copywriter, ABC company, September 2022 – Present

Becomes:

Junior Copywriter, XYZ company, 2021 – 2022
Junior Copywriter, ABC company, 2022 – Present

Be cautious when using this approach, as it can seem surreptitious. This strategy will help surpass an ATS but will lead to immediate questions with the hiring team. Include a brief explanation in your cover letter, or have your answer ready for an interview.

5. Include Relevant Skills

Revisit the job posting and determine which hard and soft skills the employer wants to see on your resume. Soft skills should be included organically throughout the text, while hard skills and experience should be listed in their own section.

Incorporating Soft Skills

Soft skills are characteristics and traits that contribute to your work output. They include things like:

  • Compassion
  • Teamwork
  • Organization 
  • Time management
  • Communication
  • Problem-solving

Using the exact phrasing from the job post (this resonates with the ATS), include these in your professional summary and employment experience descriptions.

Incorporating Hard Skills

Hard skills refer to your technical experience with different programs and processes. It includes things like:

  • Programming with Python
  • Using G-Suites
  • Proficiency in email marketing tools (Klavyio, ActiveCampaign, etc.)
  • Languages spoken
  • Experience with Trello

These skills should reflect all of the technical experience you can bring to the role listed in the skills and experience section. Consider using a scaling system ranging from beginner to expert to clarify your comfort level.

6. Include Relevant Education

Only include relevant education on your resume. Unless you’re applying for a job that specifically asks for a high school diploma, you shouldn’t list it.

Think beyond your university or college degree and include continuing education and professional development courses that bolster your fit for the role. These additions highlight your dedication to continuous improvement and passion for your industry.

List relevant courses under the education section; list the outcomes or abilities acquired in the skills section. Your education section should follow employment.

7. Craft a Professional Summary

A professional summary is a paragraph that outlines your experience, passion, and aspirations. It’s an introduction to who you are and what you can bring to a company at the start of your resume to encourage viewers to continue reading.

While the professional summary will be at the top of your resume, it’s often easier to craft it last. Use this section to highlight some of the experience and metrics listed in your employment history and top skills or professional development that aligns with the role.

Conclusion

Putting together a compelling resume requires careful attention to detail and planning. This document shouldn’t just tell the company why you’re right for the job; it should show them why you’re the best fit. 

Don’t let imposter syndrome prevent you from landing your dream job. Follow this guide and shoot your shot.

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