The words that you choose on your resume and cover letter can make all the difference when it comes to the hiring process. You could be the most qualified and experienced candidate out there, but if your application does not engage or intrigue the hiring manager, you may not get the chance to come in for an interview. The words you choose to describe your qualifications are just as important as the qualifications themselves.
When you apply for a new position, you are essentially marketing yourself. When the hiring manager reviews your application, you want them to be thinking, “wow, we really need this particular person on our team.”
Language is critical. The words that you use can help create emotion and shape perception. How you talk about your past experience and qualifications can either catch a hiring manager’s attention and have them nodding their head, or it can leave them bored, unimpressed, and not convinced that you would be a good fit.
Use functional titles not corporate ones. Every company has different titles for a position. A director in one company can be a manager in another and possible a staff worker in another.
Thanks to online applications and a slew of job posting sites, hiring managers are having to review more candidate resumes than ever. The ones who effectively sell themselves are the ones who will be invited in for an interview. Other applicants – even those with similar skills and background – can be discarded, just because they did not effectively sell themselves.
There are a lot of people out there who want to talk about every project they have worked on or include absolutely every single skill on their resume. But a page that is completely filled with text is usually just going to put a hiring manager to sleep. Additionally, use bullets on the resume.
When it comes to resume content, quality is more important than quantity. You have precious few seconds to make a good impression, so get rid of the filler words and just focus on the main points that matter. To pack the biggest punch, use bulleted lists and short scannable statements. Bold or italicize keywords to help direct the reader’s attention.
One of the easiest ways to catch the hiring manager’s eye is to incorporate specific words or statements from the job posting. These are what people will be consciously – or subconsciously – looking for anyways. Incorporating your target audience’s language is a common tactic used in advertising to help the product (i.e. you) feel familiar and like a good fit.
Another key language tactic is to use strong action words when talking about your past experience. Incorporate words like “developed” or “executed.” You should also try to quantify your accomplishments whenever possible. Instead of just saying that you increased sales or completed a project under budget, add in percentages or sales figures. Using numbers will help validate and substantiate your experience. It also indicates that you are an action-oriented person and that the company will see results.
You can learn a lot from advertising when it comes to applying for jobs. If you are going to effectively “sell yourself,” you need to engage your audience, make strong, clear, and compelling statements, and demonstrate your unique benefits.