Job forecasts for 2011 have been encouraging. But competition is still steep. And job seekers will have to continue to clearly demonstrate work competence on their résumés to attract recruiters.
“Your résumé should say, ‘You would be hard pressed to find someone better qualified than me,’” says Patrina M. Clark, former chief human capital officer of the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Here HR professionals offer some insight into what makes a candidate attractive:
Create vibrant testimonials. “Testimonials provide a snapshot of your experience and what you could offer a company,” offers Rodney H. Scaife, vice president of human resources for Aerotek, an aerospace and defense industry recruitment and staffing firm. He suggests that, “applicants include a brief executive summary along with key core competencies, to begin the résumé.”
Show them you meet the requirements. “Human resources must get a strong sense that you understand the organization and the job to which you are applying. The key is to structure your résumé so that it targets and responds to the specifics of the announcement,” says Clark. This is especially true when applying for federal positions. Clark points out that the screening mechanism for federal jobs is impervious to clever formatting, and general experience. “Structure and tailor your résumé so that it answers those requirements and it clearly and compellingly makes the case that you are among the best qualified,” Clark explains. “Highlight accomplishments in a way that stands out to someone who doesn’t know you. Make it easy for recruiters to connect the dots between job performance, what you’ve studied and know, and how they directly support your qualifications.” This includes volunteer activities, professional groups, and affiliations.
Focus on the skills. Kevin J. Carrington, president of the Washington, D.C. chapter of the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources and vice president and federal practice leader of HR and benefits consulting firm The Segal Co., says, “It’s essential that you indicate in written communications how your skills and experience are transferable in the environment even if the title is lower. What jumps out are applicants whose materials show value-added skills and ways they can apply them in the new spot and how [they] can hit the ground running.”
Follow online best practices. It is important to understand how to post and submit résumés to social media and company sites, which Scaife says is becoming a more popular request from companies. “As you draft your résumé, focus on key words and search terms to insure that your résumé will surface when recruiters are establishing search queries,” Scaife says, stressing that candidates’ failure to understand how recruiters search for résumés online is a major reason most résumés don’t surface for a position.