|Martin Yate CPC
NY Times Best-Seller
35 Years In
If you want your resume pulled from the resume databases and read with serious attention, you need to give it the right focus. To do this, you need to highlight the skills and capabilities used in the Job Postings that describe your target job, because these are the words that recruiters are most likely to use when they search resume databases for someone like you.
Generally speaking, recruiters will not read your resume unless it ranks in the top 20 results of that database search, because for the most part they don’t have to dig any deeper to find a suitable candidate. This means your resume must be data-dense, filled to the brim with the keywords that will float it to the top of the list and get it read by recruiters. These keywords invariably describe the “must have” skills of the job.
However, employers still want to know about your supporting skills. A colleague and hiring manager in the IT world says, “ I don’t just want to see evidence that someone is a hotshot in, for example, the “.NET Framework,” I also want to see that they can get around with other languages, so that if my company introduces a new development environment, I have someone with experience learning new technical environments.”
This makes a lot of sense, but while these “supporting skills” are nice to have, recruiters and hiring mangers don’t want resumes that turn into novels. Detail equals length, and this is an issue because, one, no one enjoys reading resumes, and two, the initial screening process is a visual scan for relevant content. This means brevity and accessible formatting is the order of the day.
The good news is that there is a way to add supporting skills to your resume’s data density without taking up too much room or compromising the visual accessibility of your resume. You do this by adding a Core Competencies or Professional Skills section. This is the place in your resume where you succinctly deliver all the relevant professional skills you bring to that job.
Start with those skills most important to your target job, and then add the supporting skills that speak to the depth and breadth of your professionalism. This section comes at the front of your resume, after contact information, a Target Job Title, and your Performance Summary.
Here’s an example of a Professional Skills section from an Operations Management resume:
Negotiations Project Management X-Functional Team Building
IT/IS Employee Benefits Human Resource Issues
Divestitures Risk Management Strategic Planning
Financial Modeling Business Modeling Research & Analysis
Portfolio Management Policies & Procedures Acquisitions/Divestitures
Adding a Professional Skills section to the beginning of your resume with a list of relevant skills really helps its visibility. And it’s a real attention grabber for a recruiter because it can deliver a succinct review of all the criticaland supporting skills you bring to the job.
You can also repeat each of these critical keywords in the context of the jobs in which they were used. This shows recruiters and hiring managers the real world context of where you developed your skills. And just as important, every time you mention a skill a second or third time, it doubles and triples your resume’s visibility and likely ranking in a search that uses those words.