On average, a hiring manager spends less than ten seconds on a resume to decide whether it should make it to the second round. Many a time, it is not always because of the recruiter’s loss of interest. Rather, they cannot afford to spend more time on each resume when they have hundreds of applications to review.
In other words, you need to ensure that your resume efficiently sells you for the job at first read. As simple as it sounds, anyone who has worked on a CV knows that there are a number of challenges to overcome first. The resume writing experts at Skillhub.com say that it is all about finding the right ways to explain the negative areas in your CV. In this article, we will look at some of the common problem areas and show you how to turn them into opportunities for a callback.
- Filling a Career Gap
You might be a student, but you might have gone through some gaps between your different stages of education or employment. The first step is to understand that it is natural. But leaving it unexplained on your resume will incite suspicion with the recruiter.
Instead, you need to take the issue head-on and offer an explanation before they ask. Whether you took time out to address personal issues, to travel, or for any other reason, you need to reveal this. Not only that, you should try to add a positive spin to it. For instance, if you had to care for a family member, you can talk about how it helped with your personality, communication skills, or planning. If the gap was due to illness, do not hesitate to mention that you are now ready to take on the work again.
- Lack of Work Experience
This is perhaps the most significant problem that students face. A majority of the jobs require you to have work experience. As a student, your resume would be limited in this regard. If you do not have relevant internships or part-time jobs to mention, the trick is to highlight the transferable skills you gained otherwise.
Start by identifying the keywords mentioned in the job description. Now, you look at which of these skills you currently possess. You can then get around to drawing out these skills and proving them. For instance, if you have done some voluntary work, personal or group projects as part of your studies, you can focus on how it helped to hone your skills as a team player or a leader. If your previous roles are not relevant, then it is best to limit the description. You need to include only the ones that would apply to the job you are applying for.
- Highlight the Relevant Skills
Along the line of the previous point, even if students have the right set of skills, many fail to highlight them in the right way. If you face difficulties in this regard, use the STAR method. It merely requires you to include these four points:
Situation: Explain the position or the challenge you were going through. What barriers did you face?
Task: What was the goal? What were you responsible for? What did your role entail? You could mention that you were in charge of planning and had to ensure efficient communication and motivate the other members to finish their tasks on time.
Action: How did you achieve the goal? What were the steps you took? Instead of simply mentioning that you worked hard, you need to present it in terms of the skills you used. Did you analyze, and did you come up with any specific strategies?
Result: This is the part where your recruiter will probably be interested the most. You cannot merely say you have positive results. You should demonstrate your success in terms of percentages, if not figures. You can also include some positive feedback you received from clients to spruce up the resume.
- A Long Resume
Since students have limited work experience, they tend to ramble about their internships and part-time jobs to add more substance. However, this might often have an adverse effect. Recruiters will be able to see through it, and you will not hold their attention. It is best to keep your resume as clear and concise as possible.
If you do have relevant roles, make sure to condense the descriptions. If you have worked between your college and graduate school, it might not be necessary to include the summer job you took in high school. A simple mention will suffice, in case you think it is indispensable.
Also, make sure that your formatting is appropriate, has the correct font size, and has no unnecessary white space due to large margins.
- Changing Careers
At any point, even as a student, you might be looking to shift your career path. This might come across as a tough challenge to craft a resume that appeals to your target employers. It is essential to emphasize any step you are taking towards this career change right at the top. For example, if you have enrolled in an online course or have taken freelancing projects, it would be wise to list first. It needs to be prominent that you are committed to your new career aspirations.
As we discussed earlier, you also have to tailor your skillset to the target job. Find out the relevant skills in your current line of work that can be transferred to your new profession. Ensure that your CV resonates with the role you seek, and not your current one.
Finally, give your resume a thorough proofread before you send it out. You need to stay professional, with the right tone and words. Use action verbs such as ‘processed’, ‘analyzed’, ‘organized’, and ‘managed’, rather than ‘did’.
Moreover, any grammar or spelling mistakes will not strike a good impression with any recruiter. If you can, find someone else to read your resume and see what impression they get. A simple, uncluttered CV with the relevant information is the first step that will get you through to the interview process.