Be strategic to make your résumé stand out
Tiffany Lee Beckmann

WITH thousands of new young professionals on the job hunt, having recently graduated from colleges and universities across the country, human resource (HR) professional Tiffany Lee Beckmann is advising them to strategically tailor their résumés so that they'll get noticed by recruiters.

Lee Beckmann, who is the talent acquisition manager at the Jamaica National Group, was speaking recently on an episode of the online JN Youth Series titled Life after University: What's Next? She said that as a recruiter she has reviewed thousands of résumés and has gained invaluable insight on what is noteworthy for your résumé and what should not be included.

She shared six résumé-writing tips persons can incorporate to make their résumés stand out.

Use a well-branded headline

"First and foremost, you definitely need a well-branded headline. When you think about your résumé and putting that together, you want to ensure that it captures who you are at the core, how you want to position yourself, and how you want to position your career," she explained. "It has to be powerful so that a recruiter can know immediately what you are about and what you want, essentially."

She added that job seekers can use a strong objective or a professional profile in lieu of the headline as those will also give an employer a clear idea of the applicant's goals and qualifications. However, a well-branded headline is becoming trendy as it readily indicates a professional's specialty.

Lee Beckmann said that coming out of university, young professionals may not have enough experience to write a headline, but it is up to them to use the objective or professional profile to position themselves in terms of where they want to go in the industry.

Highlight details about your past work experience

Pointing out that new graduates may be daunted by not having any prior work experience, she recommended that they include experience that they had during university, such as social engagements and professional affiliations outside of school.

"Include projects that you have worked on that you feel you made an impact on, and share those as a part of your qualifications and experience. If it is that you feel like you don't have any experience at all, put your qualifications first," she advised.

She said that prospective employees should include, as much as possible, the activities they participated in over the previous three or four years.

Experience vs qualification

"In terms of which one comes first on the résumé, it depends on the position you are applying for and the qualification that you would have had aligned to that. Focus on what is most relevant to the job being applied for," she advised.

Share what makes you special

Lee Beckmann said new graduates with limited work experience should share what makes them special so as to promote their skill set. She said that these could include things they have created or innovated, such as blogs, vlogs, applications, gaming products and so on.

Prepare your résumé for an applicant tracking system

"The key to applying to a particular role is to ensure that you structure your résumé for that position that you are applying for, using keywords from the ad that you would have seen. Ensure that the structure of your résumé is formatted, that you use enough keywords, and you're indicating skills that are aligned to the position because recruiters are using systems to assist with going through résumés," she noted.

She continued that if people want their résumés to come out on top, they have to know how to structure it for the technology to identify it.

Be clear, concise and mind grammatical errors

"Read over your résumé several times before you submit. Ask one of your mentors, a colleague or a friend to read it over for you. The ideal length for a résumé is one to two pages. In terms of the length, one or two pages is ideal."

She explained that a recruiter may be going through at least 300 résumés per vacancy, and most times they do not go through everything on a three- or four-page résumé unless they have specifically asked for a curriculum vitae for certain high-level roles or technical positions.

One way to know how long to make the résumé, she says, is by looking at the years of experience requested. Ten years' experience, for example, she said would automatically require a longer résumé.

She also implored applicants to use appropriate email addresses and omit unnecessary information such as age, weight, height, marital or political views, unless these have been asked for, to avoid recruiter bias.

The JN Youth Series can be watched online on JN Bank's YouTube page.

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