Sending in a resume for an open position is only part of the battle in getting an interview. Resumes often receive just a few seconds of attention. Resumes at the bottom of the pile may be passed over by busy human resources departments.

In fact, many organizations use automated systems that scan resumes for keywords that match the job description. If they don’t meet these, they’re out.

You need to make sure your resume gets to the top of the pile. What are the best ways to do that? Read on.

  1. Obtain recommendations

If possible, have someone recommend you. Check your LinkedIn network and your private business and social network. Do you know anyone who works in the company? Ask them to recommend you, if so. Your LinkedIn profile URL should go at the top of your resume, so HR people can see it. You should also mention the recommendation in your cover letter.

Recommendations can be a vehicle for someone from HR or a hiring manager being on the lookout for your resume. It allows you to skip the risk of an automated system tossing your resume out.

  1. Craft a compelling cover letter

A cover letter should add to the story your resume tells. Your resume shows your skills and qualifications. A cover letter can tell why you are a specifically great fit for this job.

Be careful not to repeat material already on your resume. If you were responsible for cost savings of 12 percent, for example, that should go on your resume, as it’s a skill and qualification. But if you have a special connection to a company, such as a parent who worked there, mention it in the cover letter. If you’re moving back to your home town, which the company is in, put that in the cover letter.

  1. Include outstanding appraisals from a prior job

It’s important that HR and hiring managers see you are an excellent candidate. If you have had outstanding appraisals from a prior job, use them in your resume and cover letter! You can use any facts and figures in your resume. That’s where the “responsible for developing method that saved 12 percent in costs” comes in.

You can use exact quotes from previous supervisors in your cover letter.

  1. Use proper punctuation and grammar

Even if your job has nothing to do with correct punctuation and grammar, if your resume and cover letter show poor usage, it can sink your candidacy.

Why? Well, HR and hiring managers use your application materials as keys to how you will perform on the job. Proper punctuation and grammar show good attention to detail and knowledge of how to do something right. Those skills are valuable for every occupation.

If you’re not a grammar and punctuation whiz, have a friend proofread your materials or hire someone to do it.

  1. Be clear and concise

State your skills and qualifications clearly in your resume. Be concise. Resumes should not go over one page unless you have more than a decade of experience.

The cover letter should be no more than three paragraphs. Also feel free to use bullets as they are always a great way to break up information and make it more reader-friendly. Bullet quotes from previous outstanding appraisals are a great way to highlight your strengths.

Remember that the people seeing your application are busy and will spend no more than a few seconds scanning and reading it. Make every word count. And avoid repetition.

A Staffing Agency Can Help

If you’re looking for a job, we can help. At Graham Staffing Services, we offer both temporary and permanent placements. Contact us and explore out job postings today. And if you’re looking for work, apply with us today.