Get on top of the résumé game

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Six seconds. In the same amount of time it takes to send a résumé, hiring managers decide whether that résumé will get a job candidate a second look.

The résumé can make or break a job seeker’s chance, making it essential students spend time working on it and having it reviewed. BYU students can have their résumés critiqued by professional career counselors in the BYU Career Services office.

“You can have the world’s best content, but if it doesn’t look professional, it’s probably not going to get a second glance,” said career counselor Heidi Vogeler.

Serious job seekers know that a generic résumé will fall to the bottom of the pile along with the job seeker’s hopes for landing their dream job. A professional, polished look can only get you so far, though. The content should included powerful wording, highlighting relevant experience.

“The most effective way to utilize your résumé is to tailor it to the actual position … to showcase your skills in relation to what you would be doing,” Vogeler said.

Crafting a unique résumé for each job application allows job-seekers to highlight skills the company is looking for.

Barbara Thompson, career counselor for BYU Career Services, says companies may be comparing apples to oranges when reviewing résumés.

“If you think your employer is looking for an apple and you paint yourself as this amazing, yummy, flawless apple, but they really need an orange, you’re going to get overlooked no matter how amazing of an apple you are,” Thompson said. “You’re probably an orange too, you’re just not showing them the orange part.”

The trap job-seekers fall into is listing job duties, giving the employer no way to discern between successful and unsatisfactory employees.

“They have no way to tell how well you did or what contributions you made,” Thompson said. “If we both worked the same job, and I was about ready to be fired, and you were employee of the month, they have no way to tell.”

Thompson encourages students to brainstorm accomplishments and skills achieved by doing those duties.

What may get you in the door with one company may not be true for another, so doing research is key. Applicants should check the company website and job posting for specific wording of what they are looking for.

Vogeler also suggested using Glassdoor.com, which is a self-reporting website for employees to add reviews, salary information and common interview questions.

A cover letter isn’t always necessary, but it can be an invaluable opportunity to highlight points on your résumé or qualities that may not be readily seen on the résumé.

“The nice thing about cover letters is that it lets you give your sales pitch,” Vogeler said. “It’s that call to action.”

Trained mentors in BYU’s Career Services office meet with students in consultations to perfect their résumé. Students who spend time reworking their résumés will find that it becomes the key to the next step in their careers.

“The résumé is so important,” said Mckenzie Lawyer Davies, career counselor for BYU Career Services. “It is the key that unlocks the gate.”

Julia Foster, a BYU accounting graduate, got a job at TW Telecom in Colorado after having counselors, teachers and classmates review her résumé.

“Having a well-organized and visually pleasing résumé can really make a difference,” Foster said. “Use the resources that BYU offers. I didn’t realize all of the opportunities BYU provided until after I graduated and talked to (students) from other universities; we have it good at BYU.”

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