Newsflash: A degree doesn’t guarantee a job.

Graduation season is upon us. Do you know why they call it a “Commencement Ceremony”? You have not finished learning; rather, you are commencing your education in the work force.

When mapping out a career search, people have the general thought to put their education front and center on their resume. I understand being proud of this accomplishment, but I want everyone to realize that the average Bachelor’s or even Associates’ degree does not guarantee a job or certain starting salary. Skills and experience are what make the difference.

A common rule of thumb that recruiters use when receiving a resume is 3/30/1. It takes only 3 seconds to scan a resume for the items I am searching for: your brand identity, key skills, and accomplishments. If I see what I am looking for, then I will spend about 30 seconds to review your experience/job history. Now if I am “hooked” by what I see, then I will take a full minute to read and highlight key words and pertinent information that directly pertain to the position I am seeking to fill. Shocked? I’m sorry, but it’s true. Your resume could be set aside without further consideration after just 3 seconds.

Let’s look at those things that I am hoping to see in the first 3 seconds.

Your Brand: Is it instantly clear that you are, “Carol Smith, HR Professional / Office Manager / Benefits Administrator”?

Does your Professional Profile (not “Objective”) align with your brand? A professional profile is the first paragraph of your resume….your elevator pitch. The profile tells the recruiter what you can do for them. It comes from a service point of view rather than what the job seeker is looking for from the employer.

If your brand is clear and I don’t have to wonder who is applying for the job, I can move on to your key skills. If I am looking for a staff accountant with QuickBooks expertise, I want to see that without having to go to the bottom of the second page to find “QuickBooks”. What are your technical skills? If you are relaunching your career, ask yourself if your skills need updating. If you are a new grad, are your skills applicable to the job you are seeking? Did you use a MacBook through college, but are now applying for positions in corporate America where a PC is the norm?

Your accomplishments…it really is okay to brag. Did you bring in seven new clients during the first 90 days on your current job? Did you audit expenditures and cut company operating expenses by 18% in the first six months? Quantify your achievements. It is not uncommon for companies to use ATS software (applicant tracking systems) to scan resumes. These systems will search for key words that also appear in the job posting or special characters like $ or %, to rate and rank your resume for the closest match.

So before sending off your next resume, compare it with the job posting. Go through and highlight how many key words your resume contains that appear in the post. Don’t overload your resume with key words in every sentence; however, do use key words to directly tie your experience to the needs of the employer. You want the recruiter to picture you already successfully performing this job.

As always, if you’d like a free consultation on your resume, I am available to help. Happy to offer a second opinion.

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