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Conducting a successful job search takes patience, diligence, and a whole lot of resilience. Despite what you may hear about LinkedIn, face-to-face networking, and personal branding, a well-written resume remains your best chance of securing an in-person interview. Of course, other applicants know this as well. With the proliferation of resume writing services and online templates, the job search is more competitive than ever. So how does an applicant create a stellar resume that stands out in the crowd and helps them land the job of their dreams? These five tips will help. 

1. Optimize Your Resume with Keywords

Many employers now use tools called applicant tracking systems (ATS) that automatically filter applicants based on the keywords they use in their resumes. While the software aims to eliminate a human’s unconscious bias, it can also overlook many qualified applicants. That’s why every job seeker should write their resume with keywords in mind.

The first step is to identify the exact keywords used to describe the required skills in the job description, and then match them to your skills. It’s also important to match the exact job title you’re applying for within your resume. Then, use synonyms for these keywords through your application material. When using an acronym to describe a certification or job title, applicants should also use the full description. For example, human resources (HR). Finally, don’t cluster all your keywords together. Instead, spread them out through your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile. The ATS will likely look at all your application materials.

2. Organize Your Experience in Reverse Chronological Order

Resumes tell a story about an individual’s work history, so it’s natural for some applicants to begin telling that story from the beginning. When you’re job-hunting, however, you want to display your most recent experience first. After all, it will likely be the most relevant to the job you’re pursuing and most attractive to a hiring manager. 

As you’re organizing your work experience, list your previous jobs in reverse chronological order. This will place your most current work experience at the forefront and allow the hiring manager to move backwards in your work history as they see fit. 

Don’t feel obligated to list every job you’ve ever held, either. Limit your resume to one or two pages by only listing relevant positions you’ve held over the past five or ten years. 

3. Use Active Language in Your Writing

When people write in a formal tone, they sometimes fall into the trap of using passive voice. This occurs when the subject of the sentence is acted on by the verb. For example, the sentence “The cat was chased by the dog” is written in the passive voice. By contrast, using active language in your writing is more concise and clearer to read. For example, “The dog chased the cat.” There are many different online writing tools job searchers can employ to improve the quality of their writing. In some cases, people who struggle with writing can hire a professional to write their resumes for them.  

4. Don’t Write, “References Available Upon Request.”

Too many job applicants end their resumes with the phrase “references available upon request.” So many applicants use this tired phrase that it’s lost all meaning. Most hiring managers won’t extend a job offer without checking an applicant’s references, so saying you’ll provide them is unnecessary. It also takes valuable space away from other more useful sections of your resume where you can make yourself stand out from the competition. 

Many hiring managers check an applicant’s LinkedIn profile as part of the hiring process. So, people who want to display their references should take advantage of the Endorsements section of the site. This is a creative way to add a bit of social proof to your job search process.

5. Have Someone Else Proofread Your Resume

If you’ve ever spent time writing and refining a document, you know that after a while, you lose the ability to self-edit. Unfortunately, nothing ruins a great resume faster than grammar or punctuation mistakes. With that in mind, it’s wise to find a couple of trusted friends or colleagues who can review your resume with a critical eye. They’ll probably find mistakes you’d never see and can offer broader feedback on how well your resume sells your experience. 

Contact a Recruiter for More Expert Help

Once you’ve assembled your optimized resume, it’s now time to begin your job hunt in earnest. Of course, sourcing leads, applying, and following-up is a process unto itself. However, industry-specific recruiting service can be a great help in managing this process. 

If you’re a physician assistant (PA) or nurse practitioner (NP) who’s searching for their next great job, Physician Assistant Solutions can help. We match great PAs and NPs with great employers, so both sides of the hiring equation are satisfied. If you’d like to learn how we can help you find your next great PA or NP job, contact us today to get started

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