Career coach offers resume writing tips for those suddenly out of work

Posted at 9:36 PM, May 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-14 23:36:24-04

BALTIMORE — For some people who suddenly find themselves out of work during the pandemic, it might be a while since you've had to write a resume.

It can be overwhelming just figuring out where to begin for those about to sit down and figure out how to layout their resume.

From resume writing to interviewing, job seekers have to make several good impressions before getting hired but the first gatekeeper on the path to human resources often isn't even human, it's a computer.

Professional resume writer and career coach Debbie Shalom, owner of Amazing Resumes and Coaching Services said "if your resume has the right keywords in it, it will go to the top of the pile, if it doesn't, no human being ever sees it, and that's a real tragedy."

Shalom explains there's an easy way to find the right words to use to get noticed by the applicant tracking software.

“Look at words that keep repeating themselves throughout job postings, that's a short simple way to identify them. Another way is think of industry buzzwords, which words keep coming up in your industry,” Shalom said.

Using the right keywords can help put your resume in the hands of the second gatekeeper, which is human resources.

Your resume should be written in a way to answer the needs of the hiring manager but in a way an HR manager can understand, so you'll want to avoid acronyms

“The HR person most probably does not know what those acronyms stand for, so I always tell people first of all, don't overload your resume with acronyms, and if they do, put in parentheses what do they stand for,” Shalom said.

The third gatekeeper your resume needs to impress is the person who could end up being your future boss.

“Make sure that when you write your resume that you recall, you remember, it's about the employers needs, so even though the resume is yours, and it's about you, but it's how you are going to satisfy what they need,” Shalom said.

As you layout what to put in your resume, Shalom recommends starting at the top with letting potential employers know what skills make you the right person for the job.

“You have a good blend of what we call soft skills and hard skills. Soft skills are attributes, they can be personality attributes, they can be things like can you problem solve, conflict resolution, customer service, that's a big one today so you want to make sure the top third piece of your resume which we call the profile or the qualifications summary,” Shalom said.

The next section gives you a chance to list your professional experience and write about the achievements throughout your career.

“You want to say how did you do it, and if possible what was the result. I always tell people, think of it as what is the problem, what actions did you take, and what are the quantifiable results. That’s what you need to put on a resume, because that's what tells the story,” Shalom said.

Jobseekers should make a bold statement about their skills throughout their resume.

“If you imagine that an HR manager or recruiter has only a few seconds, and they're scanning just think about it if your eyes scanning down, what's going to stop your eye, something that's bolded. So that's exactly what you want them to do. You want them to stop and read what it is,” Shalom said.

Now it's not that I bold any old thing. If you see in the resume sample that I've given you, I've bolded the big pieces, of what they did for the company. For instance, they negotiated competitive prices from vendors. That’s an item and achievement most employers would like to know,” Shalom added.

Applicants expecting a call back are advised to avoid putting contact information in the header section of the document.

“One time I had a client who used a header, which you also shouldn't use, the headers and the footers, and they put their contact information in the header. They never got a response, and they couldn't understand why. It came to me, the first thing I did was look at how it was formatted and I said it's because they don't know how to contact you. Your information is in the header,” Shalom said.

Shalom has another piece of advice to avoid getting lost in the shuffle

“A lot of people that I see use commercial templates, and unfortunately commercial templates a lot of times have text boxes, and columns built into them. They don't go through the applicant tracking software,” shalom said.

Before applying for a job and hitting send to submit a resume, Shalom also recommends applicants test out how the formatting of the resume appears on different operating systems, both Windows and IOS, or export it as a PDF to be safe.