How to get your resume noticed at Expel (or anywhere)
Foreword by Yanek Korff.
There are few things more pompous than having a blog post with a foreword. Except maybe including a buzzword-filled litany of superlatives that comprise an “objective statement” at the start of your resume. Or adding pages upon pages of details to your resume in an effort to say, “I worked hard on this!”
Friend, I say these things not just to gripe, but to wave a big caution flag before you submit a resume to us (and frankly, probably to a lot of companies).
This isn’t a post about what not to do. Instead, we want to help you get noticed. And we’d love to help you put your best foot forward so we can be part of your career journey.
Amy and Kareema from our Employee Experience team share suggestions from their experiences below. Considering they represent your first audience here at Expel — the hiring manager will be your second — it’s worth considering what they have to say. Some of the advice is high level and requires some quiet reflection on your part. Take the time to do just that. It’ll make the tactics they spell out a lot easier to execute and you’ll end up with a much better resume and overall application (cover letter, anyone?) than the average bear.
How to un-suck your resume
1. Know where you’ve been, where you’re at and have thoughts about your future
Think about the last time you sat down and made edits to your resume. You probably went right to the bulleted list of your accomplishments to confirm accuracy and then added some more. If this sounds like you, don’t worry … you’re in good company. Most people approach their resume as an artifact that documents work history in a very tactical and chronological way. At “that” company, my title was “this” and I did “that.” While “this” and “that” are important parts of your work history, so are the “what” and “why.”
Reflect on the career moves and decisions you’ve made. Why did you choose that specific job during college? What did you learn from your worst job? How did you know it was time to look for a new role? Taking time to reflect on questions like these will help you think through your past, understand more about the present and determine what you want out of a job in the future. And it’ll make your resume and cover letter (if you choose to include one) immensely better.
2. You do you
One of the things you’ll notice as you look over our website is we’re pretty anti-buzzword. Are you a self-starter? Do you thrive in a fast-paced environment and help drive innovation? Bleh. Instead, think about what these overused expressions mean and if there’s a better way to describe some of that in a more clear and authentic way.
Wondering where to start? Ask others to describe working with you. They’ll probably offer phrases that are real and true to you. For example, Amy once had to pick an animal that best described her (this was likely part of the intro in some training program). When she was having trouble coming up with a quick answer, she asked someone who worked with her for six years and the person replied immediately: “A dolphin because they’re intelligent, travel in groups, and communicate well.” Getting some quick feedback from someone else can give you insight into key strengths to highlight when you write about what you can bring to a job.
3. Content is (still) king, of course
Nobody wants to see a resume that looks like a collection of generic job descriptions. (There’s Google for that.) Instead, share specific things you’ve accomplished and make all those descriptions easily scannable. A couple pro tips for ya:
Keep it brief. If you can say what you need to in a page, great. If you need two, sigh, fine. But three? Don’t go there because no one reads that far.
Highlight what makes you awesome. What are you proud of? This could be things like industry certifications you’ve earned, years of experience directly related to the type of position you’re applying for at Expel, why you traveled the world or your ability to speak several languages. List these in a “Summary of Qualifications” at the top of your resume.
Use numbers whenever possible. Here’s a good formula to use: “Accomplished [feat] by [activity] proven by [metric].”
Put your LinkedIn profile on your resume. We like to check out your profile there too.
Strike your references from your resume. We don’t need them this early in the process.
Watch for spelling, grammatical and formatting errors. Review it not one, not two but three times. And ask a friend to review it. Keep in mind that many people are applying for the same job, and having a resume full of spelling errors is a sure way to get disqualified early in the process.
4. To cover letter or not to cover letter, that is the question
Cover letters aren’t necessary for us, but there may be a good reason to write one. For example, if you’ve worked a few jobs here and there with less than a one-year duration, use your cover letter to explain why. Erratic job history is often a red flag for an employer — and we’re cautious about this too. But we also get there may be some legit reasons for the choices you made and we’re open to understanding them.
If you write a cover letter, then write one that’s only for Expel. The standard cover letters that people use when applying to multiple jobs all sound generic. And we want to get to know you. Help us connect the dots between the experience and skills laid out in your resume, and explain to us why you’d be a perfect fit for this job.
5. Get to know us
Take time to learn about and connect with Expel. The more you know about us, the easier it’ll be to figure out whether this is the kind of place you want to work, and we’ll have greater confidence that you’re really interested.
Connect with us on LinkedIn or follow us on Twitter. Applied online already? Great! Take the extra step and reach out to the recruiter through LinkedIn — let her know you applied and why you’re interested. When you see something we’ve shared on Twitter that you find interesting, like, comment on it and share it. We’ll notice.
6. Apply for one job only
Nothing says “I don’t care, I just want any old job” like applying to multiple jobs at the same company. There are some exceptions to this rule, especially when two jobs are very similar. And if you don’t see a job opening that fits your skills and experience, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org explaining why we should connect now.
7. Go for it
Don’t feel like you meet every single qualification? Apply anyway. There’s specific research that shows women often hold back from applying to jobs when they feel like they don’t meet all the criteria. Sometimes this is about confidence, but other research suggests it’s about a misunderstanding of how the hiring process actually works. If for whatever reason you’re hesitating, just go for it.
Specific skills and knowledge are important but no more so than the ability to learn and grow. We love finding someone who’s worked in a different industry but can apply their skills to the work we do. This brings new perspectives and experiences to our company, and we value that.
Wanna work here? You know what to do.
Yes, this post had a foreword, but it’s long enough so we skipped the witty conclusion. (You’re welcome!)
Send us a note if we missed any resume “must haves” or come chat with us on Twitter. Want to apply for a job at Expel? You know what to do. ☝️
Are you seriously still reading? Wow, we dig your persistence and thirst for knowledge. If you’d like to keep learning about how to build an excellent resume and, perhaps more importantly, a “career management document,” maybe check out the “Your Resume Stinks!” podcast over on the manager-tools website. And if you’re still hungry after that, there’s a slew of updates to listen to after that one.
Good luck, and happy job hunting!