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Research shows that your resume will be quickly scanned rather than read. 15 – 20 seconds is all the time you have to persuade a prospective employer to read further. The top half of the first page of your resume is the most crucial area to sell yourself. By the time someone has read the first few lines, you have either caught their interest or not…

So what can you do to get your resume shortlisted and receive a call for an interview?

Use keywords
After writing the resume, check it for keywords from the job description you are interested in applying for. Keywords are gifts to you from the employer. Use them to describe your accomplishments and roles but remember that not all keywords are the same for all jobs. Therefore, you should examine 5-10 similar job listings and highlight repeated words. Some common words include “leadership”, “management”, and so on. Then spread these words throughout your resume so they flow naturally. This will help your resume get past screening software and recruiters who are accustomed to searching quickly for these keywords.

Structure your resume
It is easiest for the recruiter if your key skills and background are summarized at the top. Make sure your current and most recent previous role is on the first page. Your education and qualifications are generally less important than your professional experience so put these later on.

Analyze the job description
The job description is one of the most underutilized tools out there. Remember that the person who put it together was essentially writing a wish list of everything they want to see in a candidate, so it has the potential to give you a ton of insight into what’s important to them and the company. Go through each of the responsibilities and think of things you’ve done that are related. Go through the skills section and find a way to pick up exposure to any skills you don’t yet have.

Put the most important information first
This advice is valid both to the overall order of your resume, as well as to the individual sections. Most of the time your previous work experience will be the most important part of the resume so put it at the top. Take the time to write down your major duties and strengths from your current role. When describing your experiences or skills, list the most important ones first. Bullets are preferred as they are easier to read. If you are applying to a specific position, ensure the first 3 bullet points in your job duties correlate to the important skills/experience that the job is requiring.

Like any piece of writing, a resume can always be improved. Continual evaluation and updates are essential. Have friends, family members, or someone in your network review it. If you have the budget you can pay a professional or use an online resume builder like Valuehire.